The Davis High coaching carousel continued spinning as boys basketball coach Dan Gonzalez, whose Blue Devils made the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs last season, stepped down on Wednesday.
DHS athletic director Dennis Foster announced the move in a news release Wednesday night.
Gonzalez, who led the Devils for 14 years, is now the second high-profile coach to leave his post this season — former football coach Steve Smyte decided in June not to guide the Devils this fall. Last year, just before the boys soccer season began, longtime soccer mentor Ashley Yudin quit.
As with each of the other coaches, Gonzalez’s departure was abrupt and the timing unusual. The Devil hoopsters had been in the midst of fall workouts. Official practice for the 2013-14 season is set to begin in five weeks.
“It wasn’t something that I saw coming; it wasn’t anything that anyone saw coming,” Foster told The Enterprise. “It was really a surprise.
“It’s a very difficult time for the program … we are five or so weeks from the start of practice. But it does leave us enough time to find an interim coach for this season. There’s never a good time to lose a coach that you want to be here.”
Gonzalez, a popular math instructor at DHS, said he knows the timing is tough and he is disappointed for his players. He added that one of the main reasons for his decision was not “being able to put together the coaching staff I would like.”
Junior varsity coach Bob Silva, a longtime confidant who Gonzalez said helped him build the program to where it is today, resigned last spring after 11 seasons. Silva had voiced dissatisfaction with DHS administrative decisions and influence.
In addition, Gonzalez lost varsity assistant George Sousa before last season and Gary Smith also has left the Blue Devil bench.
Smith, the longtime University of Redlands coach, is the inventor of The System, a fly-at-the-basket, no-defense approach to scoring. Two seasons ago, Gonzalez and Co. embraced The System and excelled at it, finishing in the top three in national scoring offense (averaging more than 83 ppg) in each of the past two winters.
“For my first nine years (as head coach) it was a really huge learning curve for me,” said Gonzalez, who coached the DHS JV team in 1991-93 then again in 1997-99 before taking over as varsity head coach. “We had several different administrators that came through and a bunch of different (assistant) coaches coming and going. We couldn’t really find the best fit for our athletes.
“And I’m comparing that to these past four years, when it’s really been exciting, especially leading the state in scoring last season.
“Bob Silva has always been my guy. I’ve sat down with him for hours every year, trying to figure out ways to make the program better, and he introduced me to great coaches like George Sousa, Gary Smith and Bruce Berry (a one-time JV assistant).”
The program has yet to hire a JV coach to replace Silva. Foster said DHS will begin the search for a varsity coach immediately and then find a JV mentor next. The only coach currently in the boys program is Dino Clark, who led the Blue Devil freshmen each of the past two seasons.
Gonzalez told The Enterprise that he “was hoping someone like Bruce Berry would be able to be my assistant, but the district didn’t feel like he was a strong enough candidate. I also wanted him to be my freshman coach a few years ago.”
Notes: Over the past 10 seasons, Gonzalez-coached teams have gone 101-147. In his career, Gonzalez posted four winning seasons and made postseason appearances in 2006, 2010 and last year. Each time they made the playoffs, the Blue Devils lost in the first round — including last year’s 80-78 nail biter at Lincoln (Stockton).
— Reach Chris Saur at email@example.com or 530-747-8049.