Basketball Notebook

New Coach Points Roosevelt Forward

By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 25, 2007

After leading M.M. Washington to its first DCIAA West Division title last year, Rob Nickens knew there would be big expectations when he took over Roosevelt's boys' program this season. Even though the Rough Riders are hovering around .500, Nickens just wants some patience. From himself, mostly.

"I've got to settle down, because I want it so fast since I won it already," he said.

Heading into Tuesday's game against Cardozo, the Rough Riders began the week 3-2 in the competitive DCIAA West, having lost to Dunbar and M.M. Washington. It's an impressive mark, considering he inherited no players with substantial experience.

Even though some transfers arrived, mostly juniors and sophomores, it has taken time for their talents to mesh.

"This is all a totally brand-new team," Nickens said. "You've got some kids coming in from programs not used to winning and here they are expected to win. It's not easy."

The easier part may come next season, when Nickens expects his top seven scorers, led by sophomore Darin Drakford and junior D'Angelo Johnson, to return. But maybe success could come a little earlier. Last season, Nickens's M.M. Washington team was upset in the first round of the DCIAA playoffs by a Spingarn team that had just come together.

Nickens said he hopes Roosevelt can play the role of Spingarn this season.

"I've just got to get these kids in a position to where we can get into the playoffs," he said. "After that, we've just got to let the chips fall."

McKinley Rights Itself

Twenty-four hours after scoring 13 points in a loss at H.D. Woodson, McKinley's girls' team bounced back with a 54-34 victory over Eastern. It might end up being a victory that propels McKinley to a strong second half of the season.

McKinley has players who can score. Junior Nyteena Thomas, its leading scorer for two seasons, scored 17 points, and she got some help from sophomore Saquita Simon, who added 10 points.

While Thomas has scored in double figures in seven of the past eight games coming into this week, Simon has been a bit of a wild card. She has had big games, like 28 points in a 63-55 victory over Coolidge, and 27 in a 76-66 loss to Ballou, McKinley's two highest-scoring performances this season. But Simon has also had games where she has scored two, four and five points.

"When she's on, she's a real good scorer," McKinley Coach McClinton Brown said. "She just needs a little more consistency."

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