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High School Team Preview:
AB Miller High School--(Nov. 3, 1998)

"This will be a new experience for me and for the team.  I'd like to get our guys back on a winning track this year and make the playoffs." --John Romagnoli

John Romagnoli (pronounced "Roman-oli"--the "g" is silent) is the first year varsity coach at AB Miller High School.   AB Miller is in the Fontana-San Bernardino-Redlands area, and plays in the Citrus Belt League, with teams like Eisenhower, Fontana, Redlands, Rialto, and a new school, Redlands East Valley (Colton has moved out of the league this year).  The team didn't fare very well last year, only compiling a 2-8 record in league play, and going 8-14 overall. But that was last year and this is now.  Gone are several players from last year, including Brandon Taylor who is at the College of Notre Dame in NorCal, and Chris Smith, who is at a JC in Texas. Also gone is Eric Robinson who isn't playing this season and who will attend Fresno State, but also not as a player. "We are really starting over this year," John told us today. "Coach West was having some issues which made it not very much fun for him to be here and it really showed in the way we played last year. He's moved to a small town in Minnesota, and is doing great, and I talk with him just about every week. I learned a lot of what I know from him, but this will really be a much different kind of team this season." 

Romagnoli has that kind of enthusiasm and confidence that you only find in a first year varsity coach, a sort of buoyant optimism, but a bit guarded because of the unknown.  "We're  not a very tall team, so we'll have to depend on our quickness and outside shooting to get the job done," John said. "The teams in our league will be really tough. Fontana and Eisenhower are always strong, and Redlands East Valley has a really great point guard, so no one really knows what to expect."   Romagnoli is not entirely without experience: He was the assistant varsity coach for the last two seasons under Gary West.  He's also a local, having played at Fontana with Sean Rooks. He graduated in 1984 and then attended Cal State San Bernardino where he graduated in 1991 with a degree in English and Communications.  He obtained his teaching credential from  UC Riverside, and currently also teaches English.  Following his graduation in 1991, he traveled around Europe for a few years and then got married and started to settle down.  He and his wife have got no children yet, but they "working on it."  Hopefully John's   enthusiasm will carry over to the team.

Here's the roster:

Bobby Estrada (6'-0" Sr. SG/SF)
Gregory Nelson (5'-10" Sr. SG)
John Dunn (6'-1" Sr. SF)
Enoch Jorrin (5'-10"  Sr. SG)
John Ward (6'-0" Jr. SG/SF)
Lyndale Knight (6'-1" Sr. SF/PF)
Dennis Kingsland (6'-3" So. SF/PF)
Erik Scott (6'-3" So PF)
Shaheed Richardson (6'-4" Sr. C)
Sean Lanzorrotto (6'-2" Jr. F)
Chris Vernon (5'-8" So. PG)
Francisco Vazquez (5'-10" Sr. G)

As you can see, this is not a team blessed with height, but they may be able to make up for that with good guard rotation, using a motion or flex and "a few other things" which Romagnoli intends to put into the offense during the next month.  The starters will probably wind up being  Chris Vernon at the point, Gregory Nelson at the two, Bobby Estrada at the wing/small forward spot,   Erik Scott at the 4, and probably Shaheed at the five, but a lot depends upon the football season, as both Shaheed and Vernon are footballers.

At the point, we'd look for Chris once the football season is over. He's quick, and just now learning to lead the team. He's young, and John is a bit worried about whether he can carry the load, but he's a very talented player, who can drive, penetrate and dish and he's got a good, developing shot and can capably defend older and bigger players with good quickness and good hands. He's got good instincts and court vision, and this summer managed to lead the varsity for most of their games.  Gregory Nelson may also see some time at the point, but we'd expect to see him at the two mostly. He's an outstanding shooter, who will have the green light anytime he's got the ball past the mid-court. He's not especially quick, but he's got great range and can either spot up or create off the dribble.  He'll be backed up some by Enoch Jorrin, a good defender and tenacious rebounder who might also see some time backing up at the point as well with his good handle and quick feet.  Francisco is another player who will see some time at both the one and the two, and he's a sort of spark-plug kind of guy, who can just energize the team when he comes in.

At the wings, we'd look for Bobby Estrada, probably the best defensive player on the team, and one of the team leaders, who has probably the most experience at varsity. He's  very strong, and can bench press about 250 lbs right now. He's got a decent shot, and can also post up some.  He'll be joined John Dunn, a great shooter with good slashing moves to the basket and decent rebounding skills.  We'd also look for Sean once football season is through, and he's a real banger and rebounder, a very hardworking player. Someone else we'd expect to see at the wing-forward spot would be John Ward, a thin, high-jumping player with a great first step who can slash to the hole and finish, and he's one of the better swingmen on this team.  At the power forward spot, we'd look for Lyndale Knight, Erik Scott, and Dennis Kingsland.  Lyndale is about 180 lbs, strong and can jump and rebound very well, and when he's playing guys about his size (which may not be that often against teams like Fontana), he'll post up well, but he's really more of a slasher and shooter off the dribble than a pure "4".  Scott is one of the best athletes on the team, and is really a very special player. "We're just waiting for him to grow some more, and then he'll be really impressive," said John. "He can already bench press about 260 lbs, and he played Frosh ball last year, but he's so good, we moved him directly to the varsity."  Kingsland is a real wide-body type of player, with good post moves and a nice mid-range j, and he'll do well on defense clogging up the lanes and grabbing the boards. He'll also see some time at the center position, but we'd really expect Shaheed to be there once football is over. He's a very strong player, bench pressing about 350 lbs (man, they sure are into the weights at Miller this year!). He's a real banger, very physical and a good rebounder.

Miller will see some pretty good action this December. First they'll play some non-league exhibitions, including a game against Upland in early December.  From December 7-12, they'll be at the Ocean View Tournament of Champions.  Then from December 19-23, they'll be at the Trabuco Hills Holiday Classic, and then in the last week of December, they're trying to decide on whether to appear in some local tournaments or whether to travel to San Diego, and John expects to have the schedule finalized in the next week or so.

This is going to be a trying season for A.B. Miller, one where they will probably wish they had another Travis Reed type of player again. But they'll more than make do with what they've got, and we're betting that we'll see them at least in the first round of the Southern Section playoffs. Just wait and see.


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