I am writing this on Monday, December 29, 2014 at 2 p.m. but I am projecting ahead, prognostication even, to Tuesday night at 7:45, the Saint Francis Lancers versus the San Ramon Valley Wolves, in the finals of the 38th tournament.
I am psyched for something almost as hoopalicious (and, am I the first to use that term, for the St. Francis tourney? Well, Glory Be!) today, a doubleheader of first San Ramon then St. Francis devouring or skewering their prey (not pray).
Hans Delannoy, my old coach, and I took in a game in a half at the kick off on Saturday: his San Ramon crushed the grapes of the visiting Davis Squad, 99-62. (They kinda chocked not to go Century, frankly). We also perused the names of the SF Francis Hall of Fame: we probably knew 10 percent of such: Bill Delaney, Erik Byrnes, Tomas Silvas, Mike Norman. Hans had played against three of the 1970 Class. I recall Mike Norman coming once or twice to work out at Gunn, but could hardly say I competed against him. (And in fact, during the short but sweet Gunn hoops if not a dynasty than at least a program rather than a team, Gunn went 22-5 but lost to Saint Francis, and then 25-3 and likewise lost to them, but beat SI and Riordan, before losing to SI by 2 in front of 7,000 at Maples)
MaxPreps has St. Francis at 18 in the state and has San Ramon Valley at 30, but I have a hard time believing there is a better team than what I saw Saturday afternoon. Six-ten center Gregg Polosky looked like a D-1 prospect at center, while his backup Kyle Spackman at 6’7″ looked pretty similar. Keith Smith was super quick on guard and fearless at taking it to the whole; although my Moto is not a real camera, I like this image of Smith pestering the Davis press, sliding past him, jumping up and returning to pressure. Footballers like JJ Koski added a physicality to the game. The Wolves suited 16 players of which at least 8 or 9 were ballers.
Two of the key players came up and coached “Del” (who I call “Hans” or “Coach”. Hans retired this spring after about 35 years in teaching and coaching. He was Division I coach of the year for his work with San Ramon ladies in 2006, knocking off Berkeley in an amazing comeback, at Oakland Arena.
After a swanky pizza dinner on Emerson, Terry invited Coach and I back for a night cap and I could not resist ringing her Downtown North neighbor Nick Peterson, who I knew played against Hans in at least one and maybe several Cubberley versus Woodside clashes, in SPAL. I got a kick out of re-introducing the two warriors after 44 years, and the three sometimes four of us yacked it up for a couple more hours about the good old days, and the changes over time in athletics and society. Nick has a theory about ladies not willing to pass to spot as readily as the boys. (His daughter Katarina played four varsity seasons for the Vikes and was a CCS champion — and is now a homecoming queen for the Colorado Buffs).
Hans says Nick was a better player than Rich Kelley at the time although Nick, who later pitched for Stanford, said Rich was MVP even as a sophomore. When I first met Nick, over the fence, in 2009 we traded notes on sports and I recall ringing Hans, sensing an overlap, and Hans asked “Is he left-handed?” But it took me five more years to put us all in the same room.
Not sure if I will see Coach Hans or Neighbor Nick at either tonights or Tuesday’s games, and yes I realize advocating for St. Francis v. San Ramon in a high school hoops classic means taping the Stanford v. Maryland Terrapins football bowl game, the Foisted Fur Shur or whatnot — I put in a media request for Plastic Alto to have a place in the press room but was told by Doug Kelley the former Davis sports pr guy that the deadline was passed, which saved him from telling me that claiming John Paye is considering not running for office does not make me Red Smith.
Here is WCAL preview by John Reid, which has Serra above St. Francis in a tight race.
Here is recent Daily News Peninsula rankings, but it is a bit off topic and notable for having Gunn and Paly 3 and 4, with Serra leading St. Francis. I caught a bit of Pinewood, obviously stronger than Mountain View despite best efforts of Jim Forthoffer, a Cubberley contemporary of Delannoy, who greeted each other. “Are they working, hard?” Hans shouted towards Jim as his team marched by, to dress. “Their working,” he says, and shrugs. Meanwhile the current San Ramon coach said he was surprised at how impatient Davis was in their shot selection, and seemed cheated out of a chance to play defense therefore. His team was 6’10” or 6’7″, 6’4″, 6’3″ to Davis’ 6’5″, 6’4″ 6’3″ at best: well, they were out-muscled, out-sped and smaller, beyond the shot selection or skittishness. Davis brought out a few moms and dads at least.
1. Serra (4-1)
2. St. Francis (3-1)
3. Gunn (5-1)
4. Palo Alto (4-2)
5. Pinewood (4-1)
6. Menlo School (4-1)
7. Los Altos (3-4)
8. Menlo-Atherton (3-5)
Ok, but MaxPreps has St. Francis tonight at #14 in state versus Leigh of San Jose, #892 in state despite a 5-2 start. San Ramon is 9-1, #68 in State versus Pinewood at #348. But I kinda like the Wolves. I will have a better comparison if I go tonight.