For the third time in the last four years, the Golden Valley boys basketball team has a new coach.
Chris Printz built the program, stepping away after 2010 with his second consecutive Foothill League championship. Myron Watkins then took over the program, going two seasons without a win in league, 5-21 overall last year.
Now it’s Alan VanHook as the Grizzlies head coach, a man who was previously an assistant at West Ranch and before that at Saugus. The three words best summing up what VanHook is doing: Starting from scratch.
“I believe we’re an up-and-coming team,” VanHook said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do and a lot of things to go over. We’ve got a sophomore and a freshman (on varsity), we’ve got some juniors. I think they’ll get some valuable experience, going against the West Ranches of the world, the Valencias, the Tom Kellys (Hart head coach). We’re going to have our work cut out for us, but at the end of the day I believe we’re going to compete and give our best.”
So far, the Grizzlies are 2-9 on the young season, getting wins against Simi Valley and San Marino. The nine losses, however, have been by an average margin of 19 points.
“Right now our number one thing is discipline, stability and teamwork,” VanHook said. “I believe discipline has been missing through the years, even through the winning years, in my personal opinion. This is going to be an important year for us, as far as installing what it’s going to be like for the future years to come. Developing our freshman, developing our sophomores, and like I said, hopefully next year we’ll be competing for a new title.”
Van Hook mentions three players who will have an impact on the Grizzlies’ success, including one who left the program to go to Hart only to return for this his senior season.
“Right now, I believe James Chevious can help us big time,” VanHook said. “Our freshman, C.J. Jacobs, I think is going to play huge minutes this year, and that should be a good help. And obviously, I think our sophomore guard Dominic Gully (will play a key role). Inexperienced, loads of talent, extremely hard worker, by far without question the hardest worker in the program. If these guys develop and turn into team players, we’re definitely going to be competitive, that’s for sure.”
“We have a lot to work on,” Gully said. “But what I think makes our team good is we’re really fast when we get up and down the floor, and I think we can work together.”
“We’ll be competitive,” VanHook added. “We’ll give it our best shot. But when those three guys come around, I feel very confident we can compete with anyone, including West Ranch. Now, will we beat them? That remains to be seen. But, we have to deal with our goal first.”
Van Hook clearly has realistic goals for his team this year. As a first year head coach, he wants to build a program that wins, and he’s using his past to lay the foundation.
“I was with Coach LeGaux (former head coach at West Ranch), and as far as discipline, he did a good job establishing how it’s going to be in the program, and he didn’t care who you were,” Van Hook said. “I learned a lot and I carry a lot of those values from coach LeGaux. When I was (with) Coach Ballard (current head coach at Saugus), I learned some things as far as organization, X’s and O’s. I thought Coach Ballard was one of the best X and O guys around. I thought LeGaux was the best coach hands down, by far in the Foothill League. Obviously I carry those experiences, I carry those values and try to instill that to this team. It’s giving it my best and saying, ‘Hey, this is the way it’s going to be.’ And what I found out with these programs is later on down the road in life, it definitely pays off.”