Friday, February 8, 2013

Catch the West Valley College Vikings

Has anyone caught West Valley College basketball this season?

Now this is based on a single viewing but the Vikings are the epitome of the sum or whole being better than its parts and absolutely no offense is intended with that description.

It's a joy to witness such team synchronicity, especially for those 99.9% of fans of basketball who never possessed any physical gifts and/or multi-dimensional skills and who adamantly appreciate watching coaches design a system commensurate with the available talent and the players both accepting and fulfilling their roles.

But the most important element is not necessarily the display on the floor -- the crux is how West Valley got that way.

That requires some information from Coach Scott Eitelgeorge

"Every coach has a style or a system," he explained. "You find your way into what works best for your team. "We're not super offensively but we don't give up a lot of points."

He then passed along the Viking version of a mantra: "We say, let's just keep it together while everybody else falls apart."

But junior college ball is a strange bird.

"On this level, it's so fluid," Eitelgeorge offered. "You get guys two to three years max and you're asking them to trust some guy. For guys who don't understand or see that, you don't want them around. We've been able to get them to trust so we have a good program and we're able to compete in conference.

Watching five truly play as one and succeed because of that is as close to a miracle most of us will ever get and more so on the community college level where no scholarships are involved.

He added that the largest hurdle is "most of the guys at this level have no concept of their abilities."

But Eitergeorge understands coaching isn't a one-behavior-suits-all enterprise.

"Each guy you have to approach differently. Some you have to put your arms around, others you have to yell a bit."

Asked what advice he would offer to high school kids entering the recruiting stage, the talk got around to a few important subjects.

"It's hard because kids are hearing from so many voices. But I would ask them how many times have you talked with the head coach? If it's zero, then you're a name on a list."

Regarding highlight reels (of which he receives a number from prospects), Eitelgeorge noted he too often sees the sender of the tape dribbling past someone but it's an opponent who can't defend, while nobody on the court is in a defensive stance and the other defenders aren't rotating over.

His counsel is "show what you can really do against good competition."

He proposed this as the ultimate self-litmus test: "are you dominating on your high school team? If not, you're probably not good enough."

West Valley is ranked #12 in the latest state poll of northern California teams, this with the tallest Viking measuring 6-foot-5. At that height, D'vaughn Mann leads in scoring at with 17.0 points per game, followed by 5-foot-10 Chris Murry, who missed six games earlier in the season due to injury, at 16.5. Mann is also tops in rebounding while Murry is shooting 45% on three-point attempts alongside a 57/18 assist-to-turnover ratio. Both are out of John F. Kennedy High in Fremont. The Vikings are currently 14-8 with a win over Santa Rosa Junior College and two versus Cabrillo College.

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