Fryer: Plenty to cheer from basketball season


The following is a semi-encompassing review of the 2014-15 boys basketball season.

Subtitled “The State of Orange County Basketball” …

• The quality of play in the county is OK. It would be better if players would stop passing up open 12-foot jump shots so they can drive to the basket where three defenders are waiting. I fear one night I will drop the pen and notepad, run onto the court and try to talk some sense into a kid who does that.

• The quality of coaching in the county is superb. Those teams you see winning league championships and getting deep in the playoffs most years are outstanding. There are too many to mention.

• Some coaches who are great but don’t work at the higher-visibility schools include Ken Frank of Garden Grove, Al Robertson of Santiago, Bret Fleming of Laguna Beach, Dean Yoshimura of Valencia, Joe Aihara of Western and John Wooldridge of Sunny Hills. There are so many others out there getting the most out of their rosters year after year – again, too many to mention, but basketball parents all over Orange County should know that they are entrusting their sons to outstanding coaches.

• All that being said, county coaches long ago created an Orange County style of basketball: half-court sets, rock-solid defenses. That sometimes beats teams with better athletes, sure. But on occasion coaches have stunted the artistic freedom of the game so much that their teams can’t go up and down the court with teams that they otherwise would be able to.

• People who say Mater Dei’s Gary McKnight can’t coach or doesn’t coach are idiots whose pictures should be posted at gym doors with the words “Do Not Allow Access To This Person.”

• One reason I like going to Foothill games is because I like visiting with Foothill superfan Robbie Ross. Happy 50th birthday, Robbie!

• Ocean View will have its best team in a few years in the 2015-16 season.

• What was carrying over the basketball in 1975 is a legal dribble in 2015. It’s easier to dribble-drive past a defender when you’re practically holding the ball between dribbles.

• Godinez’s Brandon Smith is going to be an outstanding college basketball player at UC Irvine, and soon, too. Smith played for one of the all-time great coaches at Godinez, Greg Coombs.

• Top candidates for Orange County player of the year: MJ Cage and Rex Pflueger of Mater Dei, Jarret Brodbeck of Esperanza, Josh Rodriguez of Sonora and Nicholas Anderson of Canyon.

• Cage sometimes looks like the best player in the county. But he’s got that “soft” tag because at times he lacks that aggressive edge that would help him score more often off of offensive rebounds or have him post up with more authority and catch every pass into the post. Mostly, though, when he gets fired up and is blocking shots and grabbing rebounds at both ends, Cage is showing the kind of dominating player he can be and will be.

• It’s going to be sad to no longer have an Anderson at Canyon to watch play and to interview after a game. Nicholas Anderson, a senior at Canyon, and his older brothers Chris and Jerime were all great players with the Comanches, and among the most mature and gentlemanly athletes in the county these past 10 years.

• The county all-star game, organized and managed so well for years by the Costa Mesa Kiwanis Club, in recent times got passed about from organizer to organizer. The Open Gym Premier group did a nice job running the game this year. One request for Open Gym is to remove the 8th-grade game from the event.

• This is repulsive: 8th-graders announcing they have committed to this high school or that high school.

• Some of the county’s smaller private schools are building great basketball programs. Capistrano Valley Christian, Orangewood Academy and Saddleback Valley Christian are leading that trend.

• The Open Division bracket added to CIF-Southern Section and CIF State basketball playoffs in recent seasons is not perfect. It is, for the most part, grouping elite private-school teams together. Community-based public school teams should not be involuntarily playing such private-school teams in the playoffs.

• Private schools won a disproportionate number of the boys and girls CIF State championships – nine of 12, or 75 percent of them. Private schools comprise 27 percent of the CIF State’s member schools.

• It’s been fun to see the growth of student cheering sections all over the county. We ranked Canyon’s “Tribe” as the best of a great group of sections. Whoever was No. 1 this season, or is No. 1 next season, all must pay homage to the section that is what the Rose Bowl is to college football bowl games and what the Masters is to golf – Servite.

• Basketball transfers will be plentiful this summer. Whether you’re an adult or a teenager, you have the right to change your mind. Some players do transfer for legitimate reasons.

• However, in most transfer situations, dad has raised his basketball-playing son so that the kid thinks he is the center of the universe and dad is certain he is going to be among the 0.00001 percent that will play in the NBA. Well, dad, of course you’re going to seek a transfer, so farewell and good luck and don’t let the gym door hit the backside of your khaki Dockers on the way out.

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