Cousino girls hoops looks to build on one of the strongest years in program history

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Warren Weekly | Published November 19, 2012

 The Warren Cousino girls basketball team is coming off a season in which it won its first division title in 30 years. Pictured is senior Bethany McCord, left, and senior Nicole Propst.

The Warren Cousino girls basketball team is coming off a season in which it won its first division title in 30 years. Pictured is senior Bethany McCord, left, and senior Nicole Propst.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

WARREN — Fourth-year Warren Cousino girls basketball coach Mike Lee said the 2012-13 season will be a telling one for his program.

He said this year takes on a different feel than years past, as the Patriots won the school’s first division title in 30 years by going 11-1 in the Macomb Area Conference White Division last season. Cousino followed that up with a Class A district title and finished the 2011-12 campaign with a 19-4 record.

“Our coin has two sides,” Lee said. “There is a desire and fire, and some pressure to have another successful year to show consistency as a program. As a coach, I can’t really use the underdog card, as I have in the past, because of the success we’ve had the past few years.”

Lee, 50-18 as coach of the Patriots, said he feels he need to show that Cousino is a program that can sustain the success, especially after losing four-year standout Elena Popkey, who now plays at Oakland University.

Lee is optimistic about the upcoming campaign, though, in part because the Patriots bring back nine players from last year’s decorated group, including seniors Bethany McCord and Moriah Grys — two, three-year varsity standouts. Lee will have 14 on his roster and, along with McCord and Grys, he expects senior Nicole Propst to be a standout.

“We have people ready to be the hardest-working girls on the floor. However, we are learning how to be vocal leaders, but (McCord) and (Grys) are ready to take on the role of leader,” Lee said. “(Propst) is our hardest-working girl, and I would like her to get more vocal.”

Lee said McCord and Propst need to be the two best players on the court each night for Cousino to duplicate last year’s success. The Patriots’ coach said guard play will be key because of the ball handlers Cousino lost to graduation, adding that he expects teams to pressure the ball more when the Patriots are on offense.

This year’s Cousino team doesn’t have a lot of size, according to Lee, but it is filled with athletic players. That athleticism allows the Patriots to use multiple looks on defense that stress pressuring the ball, he said.

“We play many talented teams this year, so talent and athleticism alone will not win ball games,” Lee said. “Attention to details and having an ‘all in’ mentality will, hopefully, put us in a position to win ball games.

“As a coach, I adapt to my personnel, but my philosophy of hard work stays the same. We are looking to accent our players’ strengths and have them do what they do and do it well.”

That will need to be the case throughout the season, Lee said. Cousino has a schedule that includes strong competition, including matchups with Warren Regina, Birmingham Marian, Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day, two Detroit Public School League opponents, Grosse Pointe North and Grosse Pointe South, on top of what Lee said will be a tough MAC White slate.

“Doors opened this year and teams asked us to play because of our success last season,” Lee said. “I wouldn’t be doing the girls any favors and would be hampering their growth if I said ‘no’ and scheduled other opponents because we lost Popkey and our other seniors.

“I still feel we have a very athletic team with experience that can continue to grow on what we have built. We can’t build bridges until we tear down walls.”

The Patriots take on Utica Stevenson at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at Cousino.