Monday, November 1, 2010

The 2010-2011 Ohlone College Renegades

Guess who won the Coast Conference North Division last season?

City College San Francisco? To mix sports metaphors, that's a fastball on the corner for strike one. Foothill? A curve that catches the inside part of the plate, and strike two. Chabot? A change-of-pace and a whiff so grab some pine, yer out!

It was Ohlone College based on an 11-1 league record, 24-5 overall. The Renegades won league, then went on to beat Shasta and Yuba early in the playoffs before falling to eventual champion Saddleback in the state tournament. To measure the level of the  Bay Area competition Ohlone faced in 2009-2010, the Renegades and both aforementioned CCSF and Foothill all earned spots in the Elite Eight.

All this took place after Ohlone mustered a 10-2 and 25-9 marks in 2008-2009, finishing in a first place tie with CCSF and climaxing in a Sweet Sixteen finish.

Plus, it was 9-2, 20-11 for the Renegades in the season before that and yet another Sweet Sixteen finish.

2006-2007 brought a 28-4 final record and the first Elite Eight inclusion.

 There simply is something called the John Peterson effect at work in Fremont.

How so?

Try this: during Coach Peterson's tenure, the overall Renegade record in 10 years is 225-86, including a total of five conference championships, nine playoff appearances, five Sweet 16’s and a pair of Elite 8's. He is a five-time conference coach of the year and the 2010 co-State Coach of the Year. Ohlone had never won a league championship between 1967 and 2002, and only won one league game the year before Peterson took over.

So what's going on over in Fremont? Has Peterson filtered something into the water? The college on the hill not only looks over the surrounding community but is on quite the roll peering down at its regional basketball opponents.

First, some background. Peterson's a local, having grown up in Fairfield. He subsequently earned his B.A. at UC Santa Barbara and then a Master's degree from USF. He assisted Jim Brovelli for three years and Phil Mathews for two seasons on The Hilltop and followed that with three ultra successful seasons (a national championships season in 2000 and a loss in the title game in 1999) at Metro State in Denver. It was at the latter that Peterson worked with Mike Dunlap, who later moved on to the Denver Nuggets, Arizona, then Oregon and is now working with Steve Lavin at St. John's.

Dunlap is considered a coaching guru of sorts and Peterson views him as a mentor.

With Peterson heading Ohlone, it's often been the squad's sum being greater than the parts -- which is the ultimate sign of a team.

Care for an example? Look at who departed Ohlone after the season and their new collegiate homes:

* Jamaal Blalock to Virginia Union University
* Scott Clark to Humboldt State

* Quaran Johnson to Metro State College

* Reggie Jones to CSU, Stanislaus

* Isaiah Moore to California Maritime Academy

* Ronnie Sawyer to Post University (CT)

* Simba Gwanyanya to Holy Names

* Demetris Love to St. Thomas (Florida)

Remember, this was a group that earned 11-1, 24-5  records and a February 21 spot as the top team in the state.

But Peterson doesn't credit any magic nor any mystical alchemy for the success since he took over. "Last season, we allowed only 58 points per game, tops in the state," he offered. "We have a focus on defensive ball pressure while utilizing a matchup zone. We will run -- call it being opportunistic offensively -- but when it works for us."

Another number that Peterson is extremely proud of is "we have 20 guys currently on four-year rosters including. Tim Bowman and Allen Hester at Oklahoma Baptist, Leon Hart at Dominican, James Hancock at Point Loma Nazarene, Frank Monge at Stanislaus State, AJ Flournoy at Metro State, Kevan West at Concordia (OR.), Brandon Lott at Wiley College (TX), Amarildo Matos at Cheney U. (PA), Matt Wittbrodt at Northwood U (MI), Carlos Johnson at West Coast Baptist and Alpha N’Diaye at Sacramento State. Also, Mychal Green and Willis Gardner [both former all-state guys and league MVPs] are playing professionally in Germany.

As for the talent at his disposal in the fast approaching season, Peterson mentioned:

* Lavon Gray: at 6-foot-5, "an all-conference player who is a great rebounder and passer and a good all-around player"

* Ring Ayuel: out of Sudan, "he's 7-foot-3 with a 7-foot-9 wingspan -- he moves pretty well north and south, not so great east and west but he certainly is a worker"

Peterson also offered former Pittsburgh High backcourter Charles Barnes, 6-foot-7 Caleb Burton out of Philadelphia and Bobby McCall, formerly of Newark Memorial and Cal State East Bay as players who will contribute heavily this season.

There also a veritable secret weapon of sorts bolstering the Renegade basketball program. Physical skills trainer Anthony Eggleton, known throughout the Bay Area for his results, works with the Ohlone basketballers.

Here's the 2010-2011 Ohlone roster, smallest height to largest. It's a veritable United Nations, appropriate considering the diverse demographics of Fremont:

Travis DeShazior 5'11" 175 So. Guilford Tech Comm./Fayetteville, NC
Bobby McCall 6'1" 180 Fr. Newark Memorial H.S./Hayward, CA
Charles Barnes 6'2" 195 So. Pittsburg H.S./Pittsburg, CA
Geoff Hartman 6'3" 200 Fr. Monte Vista H.S./San Diego, CA
Sharod Gandy 6'4" 210 Fr. Dwight Morrow H.S./Englewood, NJ
Scott Kenny 6'4" 180 So. Blinn College/Queensland, Australia
Or Steiner 6'4" 200 So. Israel/ Even Yehuda, Israel
Jason Bi 6'5" 180 Fr. Shanghai Jiaotong H.S./Shanghai, China
Lavon Gray 6'5" 200 So. Bellarmine College. Prep/Milpitas, CA
Shondell Lee 6'7" 235 Fr. Hudsonville H.S./Grand Rapids, MI
Cyleb Burton 6'7" 200 So. Friends Central H.S./Philadelphia, PA
Ring Ayuel 7'3" 215 Fr. Our Savior New American H.S./Sudan, Africa

Mikheal McKinney 6-0 G Washington High, Fremont and Michael McKinney 6-0 G Fairfield High are both redshirting.

Plus, in a world where community college athletics receive short-shrift, Ohlone basketball has one of the most impressive sites in the nation -- check it out here.

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