Yes, Archibishop Mitty High of San Jose will miss senior Jahnay Anderson. The diminuitive guard made 36 percent of her 3-pointers and contributed leadership and 6.1 points a game to a team that spent most of last season in the MaxPreps’ Xcellent 25.
But Anderson is the only one missing from last year’s girls team, which went 23-3 before being upset in the first round of the NorCal Regionals. So with four seniors to lead the way this year, Sue Phillips’ steady hand at the wheel (not to mention the natty Joe Guerra as lead assistant), and a budding superstar in rising sophomore Haley Jones, look for Mitty to be the team to beat in Northern California this year “” and maybe the state as a whole. Though there are plenty of excellent teams down south, only Long Beach Poly appears to be at the national level this year (though watch out for La Jolla Country Day), and Mitty could easily be cutting down the nets at the Golden 1 Center next March. Of course, health is crucial, but Mitty is deep as well as talented, and looks to be ahead of usual suspect St. Mary’s-Stockton for the preseason top spot in Northern California.
POSTSEASON SHIFTS: Speaking of postseason, here’s a little land mine for coaches, players and fans hoping to play deep into the NorCal Regionals: CIF now has the option of shifting a Central Section team from the Southern California Regionals to the NorCal bracket at the very last minute.
The decision would be made, according to CIF, on the basis of geography, and there’s a precedent from last year’s football playoffs.
It’s the Sunday after section playoffs have ended, and teams with visions of state titles have been preparing for and scouting the teams they might face in the first round “”Â± and then CIF decides, you know, Chowchilla really belongs in the D5 NorCal bracket, so we’re going to put them in. Or Clovis West is suddenly dropped into the Open.
One reason for the move, however, does have some logic behind it. The SoCal folks have made a commitment to filling every regional bracket, something that didn’t happen in the North last year. There were, after all, five empty spots in the 16-team NorCal Division V bracket, and four each in the Division II and Division IV brackets, so it would make a modicum of sense to shift some schools around to fill the bracket. Then again, a second-round game between Coalinga and Arcata would call for a pretty serious bus ride.
TOUGH ROAD: Michelle Sasaki has a big job “” well, “big” is a huge understatement “” ahead of her, but she’s got credentials few high school coaches can match.
Sasaki’s resume includes six seasons as head coach at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, plus 11 years as a Division I assistant, so she obviously will bring a lot to the table when she starts practice with the Las Lomas-Walnut Creek girls program in November. But Sasaki (who used her married name of Jacoby at SMC) has a Mt. Everest-like mountain to climb in Walnut Creek, as a quick look at the program’s last nine years will show.
First, Las Lomas has not had a winning season in that time. Second, the overall record is 63-166. Third, the Diablo Foothill Athletic league mark for those nine years is a symmetrical, though not attractive, 9-99. (Yes, that’s one win a year.)
In addition, the newly realigned Diablo Athletic League has split into two conferences for basketball, so Las Lomas gets to play Acalanes (NorCals last year), Campolindo (NorCals), Northgate (North Coast Section playoffs), College Park and, oh, that team from Orinda that was No. 12 in the nation last year. Twice.
In addition, no returning player is taller than 5-8, so whatever Division I magic Sasaki can conjure up will be welcome indeed on South Main Street. She may, however, need to bring in Penn and Teller in order to qualify for the NCS playoffs.
“” Clay Kallam