All smiles and jokes in the tape review room, you would have never known that two months ago there was dissension in the Las Positas College men’s basketball ranks.
Their season started in turmoil. After Coach Tony Costello’s passing, the team was without a coach. Assistant coach Marshall Collins took over for a few days until Clarence Morgan, LPC Women’s basketball head coach, took over with Collins resuming his assistant coach status.
After a series of interview, Lon Rork, emerged as the new men’s basketball head coach. Players on the team didn’t really know how to take it. The first practice was filled with apprehension. Rork would be their fourth coach this year.
“We’ve gotta see what he does,” said redshirt Kellen Sweetwyne on Rork’s first day of practice Sept. 9. “As long as he cares about us, it’s going to be exactly what we need.”
For Rork, stepping into a new environment was easy. He sat down and had a meeting with his players on his first day before they even practiced.
“I tried to lay the groundwork early and make sure they understood what I was about as a coach,” said Rork. “There (had) to be this trust that’s gained between us. I (had) to learn to trust them and they (had) to learn to trust me.”
For Rork, a coach is more than just the man in the tie on the sideline. The game stays on the court. Outside the lines, he is there for his players to help them succeed.
“I’m going to be demanding on the court, but as soon as we step off the court we’re working on the individual dynamic,” Rork said.
Two months after his hire, the team is fully buying into Rork’s system. With his main focus on the defense, Rork tries to use his offensive system to open up the lanes for his shooters.
“Everything is based on our defense. With only 2 months to work on it, it’s (been) hard to get everything in place,” said Rork. “We’re going to be a solid man defensive team.”
If the Hawks can play the way they did in their first two games, the other teams in the Coast Conference should watch out. They may not be the biggest team, but they make up for it with their precision perimeter shooting.
Returning Sophomores Jake Contreras and Steve Cazares are feeling comfortable in the new system. While it is their third system in two years, the change is welcome.
“Coach Rork has his system, but he saw our team was guard heavy with outside shooters, so he’s adjusted to get shooters their shots,” said Cazares.
Nothing about this team resembles last year’s. The massive roster has been slimmed down to 10 players. Each one knows his place on the team and can play when called upon. After the turmoil early on, for the players, it’s a nice change of pace.
“We can all contribute,” said Contreras “We’re all going to play and fight until the end.”