Thursday, 18 July 2019 16:01

Pioneers Get Back to Business

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KANSAS CITY, MO (AP) -- It's been a quiet two months around Pioneers HQ since the team's disappointing second round playoff loss to the eventual American Conference champion Kentucky Stallions. A very successful 66-14 season came to an unsatisfying early conclusion. The Pioneers actually outscored Kentucky in the series, by an average of 101.4 to 98.6, but the Stallions took the series by making all the right plays in the clutch. Kentucky won four games by a combined total of 14 points, and as result went on to defeat the defending champion St. Louis Sun Kings in the Conference Finals before losing to Colby Allan and the London Knights in the OBWL Finals.

"This one was tough. I'm going to be second-guessing and fretting over this one for a while" said 10-year veteran forward Marshall Gaudett a couple of weeks after the loss. "We felt like we were the better team. All credit to the Stallions, they played great, they played together. They made the plays down the stretch. They took those wins, we didn't give 'em to them."

"What it comes down to is, it's the first team to win four games. Not three. We didn't get it done" said Gaudett.

The Pioneers were without All Star center Richard Hardee for the last 21 games of the regular season and playoffs. Asked if Hardee being injured impacted the outcome of the series, Gaudett said: "Would having Richard have made a difference? Absolutely. Was that even an option with his injury? Heck no. We had a chance with the team that was out there on the court. In the end we didn't make the plays we needed to, we didn't execute like we're capable of. The Stallions did and earned a trip to the Finals. Period. That 'if only" or 'should have' stuff is for the fans. The players, the coaches on this team... we take responsibility for losing. No excuses."

Making a run in the postseason means a short offseason, and in the Pioneers' case, this season it was a hidden blessing in that the team did not have long to wallow in their disappointment.

RUN IT BACK

The Pioneers quickly got back down to the business of offseason basketball, announcing that the entire coaching staff was being brought back for another 5 years. Financial terms were not disclosed publicly but it is believed the staff took slightly less money than their previous contracts in return for the long term security of five year deals.

"I am happy to announce that Coach Schwalje and our veteran staff will back and under contract for another five seasons" said General Manager and President of Basketball Operations Ben Johnson.

"As I've said many times in the past, this organization values continuity and the coaching staff has been a huge part of that. Coach Cosmo will be entering his 12th season as head coach of the Pioneers and the majority of his staff has been here for the better part of a decade. Cosmo has guided our players through many ups and downs over the years and his determination and optimism have been an essential and steadying influence on all of us. I can't imagine anyone else leading this team into the next decade other than Coach Schwalje" said Johnson.

Sources close to the team say that at 60 years old Coach Schwalje effectively has tenure in the eyes of Johnson and is welcome to remain head coach until he chooses to retire. Johnson moved quickly to lock up the coaching staff again this season as Schwalje enters 2025 just 9 wins shy of a milestone 700 for his career. Standing at a career record of 691 - 189 (.785), Schwalje is already the winningest coach in OBWL history.

"As far as Ben is concerned, it's Cosmo's job until he hangs it up or he's pushing daisies, whichever comes first" said the unnamed source.

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