Run. Shoot. Score.
Those are the tenets of The System, a strategy 16th-year head coach Dan Gonzalez has been running for the past three years.
Last year, it worked to the tune of a new record for points in a single game (118) and a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth — an 80-78 first-round loss at Lincoln (Stockton). The Blue Devils finished 16-11 last season.
After some offseason drama — Gonzalez decided to step down from his position in September before returning to his post five days later — the 2013-14 team is shaping up nicely:
“We’re coming along, but we’re still trying to figure out the exact positions and roles for every player,” Gonzalez told The Enterprise. “It’s a big part of The System. We’re not behind in any way, it’s just when you define their roles, it makes everything a lot easier.”
The first order of business for DHS will be filling the roles of the two biggest scorers from last season: Hayden Russell (19 points per game) and Kevin Sorensen (15 points and eight rebounds a night).
“There’s never been a year where I haven’t lost key players,” Gonzalez said. “The younger guys always know that, so I’m always confident that they’re going to step up their game.”
“To replace Kevin, and his strength, and even his speed, is going to require us to be even more of a team, as far as rebounding,” Gonzalez added. “It’s gonna be crucial that four guys always are crashing the offensive glass.”
This year’s Devils will be guard-heavy, but there is no shortage of talent.
Seniors Brett Bloomfield, Ben Crook and Brandon Strong all return to the backcourt, and each had proven himself as an effective shooter by the end of last season. Austin Lampley also will be in Davis’ guard rotation.
Senior big men Matt Michaels and Logan Davis also return with an eye on providing the locals with an inside presence.
“All returning players,” Gonzalez said when asked about the leaders on the team. “I haven’t named captains just yet, but I expect most of the returning seniors to be the leaders of the team.”
Those seniors have shown the leadership that their coach wants by working tirelessly to get better in the offseason:
“Brett Bloomfield has been working on his ball handling, Brandon has been shooting like crazy, Logan Davis has been working on his inside game, Matt Michaels with the threes and driving; they are all working on the things that they knew they needed to work on,” Gonzalez said.
The Blue Devils also have three sophomores on the roster: Glen Welch, Ryan Kreidler and Ben Prussel. After strong campaigns as freshmen in the program, Gonzalez expects that all three will all be able to contribute in their initial varsity seasons.
“Ben Prussel has been showing that he has the ability to be a very good shooter so far, but he will have to adjust to the speed of the game because he’s coming from the freshman team,” Gonzalez explained. “Glen and Ryan are from the JV team, so they’re a little more adjusted.”
Welch played on the varsity squad for most of the summer, while Kreidler was called up to the varsity team during the playoffs last season.
The other two playoff call-ups, Nate Curtis and Drew Gnos, are now juniors and should be in the rotation as well.
As for The System, which was brought to DHS by former Redlands coach Gary Smith when he assisted Gonzalez on the bench two seasons ago, don’t look for many changes.
“I think it’s going to be pretty much the same,” Gonzalez said. “I think we’ll be able to go faster this year… if you think that’s possible.”
Notes: Strong, now in his third varsity season, was named All-Delta Valley Conference honorable mention last year. … The Devils led California in scoring last winter and were third in the U.S. at 87 ppg. … The school scoring record came in a 118-51 win over Burton at the Scattini Tournament in Salinas last December. It was the third time Davis set a new benchmark last season. … The Blue Devils host Vacaville on Monday (8 p.m.) in a CIF Foundation Game before heading to the Bronco Invitational Dec. 5-7. The official home opener is against Natomas on Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m.
— Reach Thomas Oide at email@example.com