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Published: January 21, 2010 11:41 pm  

BOYS BASKETBALL: Ross realizes his role for GI

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Gazette

GRAND ISLAND — Being a coach’s son isn’t easy. Especially when he’s your coach.

“There’s tons of extra pressure,” Grand Island senior guard Bobby Ross said with a chuckle this past week. “He expects so much more.”

Ross’ father, Greg, is in his third season at the helm of the Vikings’ program after spending 20 years coaching at North Tonawanda. The Island resident took the job in an effort to not only help the program, but also get an opportunity to watch his three sons grow up.

“I never envisioned myself coaching here, I just wanted to see my sons play sports,” the elder Ross said. “It’s been a great opportunity. I know with Bobby especially we’ve had our battles, but for the most part that’s just part of growing up.”

Now in his final season wearing the blue and white, Bobby Ross realizes what his father is saying.

“Last year I couldn’t stand it and I didn’t want to deal with that again this year, so my mom and I had a talk about a month ago and we came to the conclusion that dad knows basketball, he knows what he’s doing and he’s good at it,” the younger Ross said. “Really, I love him as a dad and a coach.”

Lately, Greg Ross has to love what he’s been getting out of his son. Bobby Ross is the team’s second leading scorer and rebounder and leads the squad in steals.

“We asked him to do a little more, some more stuff on his plate and so far he’s been up to the challenge,” the coach said.

Perhaps more important than stats, Bobby Ross has provided and energy and leadership in the absence of some key players, most notably Alex Neutz, from last year’s Class A-1 sectional semifinalist squad.

“Last year Neutz had that heart and intensity we needed and I’ve kind of taken that role,” he said. “You have to get up every night. It starts with defense, getting steals, running the floor, diving on the floor — always going for the ball.”

The approach seems to be working as the Vikings have won four of their last five and shown some marked improvement from the beginning of the season. Both player and coach agree that the best if yet to come for GI.

“We need to keep our focus, develop some consistency and then I think we can start to talk about doing some things in sectionals,” Greg Ross said.

Bobby Ross added, “I believe we have the right mix to do better than last year. We’re faster, a little smarter and we play with a lot of intensity.”

The younger Ross plans to play soccer in college next fall. He’s currently looking at Brockport, Canisius and Cortland.