Bob Silva has always been a busy man.
He’s helped his wife Susan raise two sons, practiced medicine successfully for decades and yet found time to create and nurture one of the most successful club hoops programs in Northern California.
And along the way, Silva has spent the past 11 years as the Davis High junior varsity basketball coach.
After a run in which he helped change Blue Devil hard-court fortunes, Silva decided something had to give.
As such, the hard-working mentor has stepped down from his JV duties.
Looking rested, still hopeful for the future of local basketball and eager to spend some quality time with his wife Susan, Silva chatted with The Enterprise at El Macero Country Club.
“Things like this have gotten away from me,” Silva says, just minutes away from a Saturday-morning round of golf with his wife. “For 11 years I asked (Susan) to support me from early September to February. During that time, there’s maybe been three or four days off.
“I just felt it was time to dedicate time to her.”
Silva became immersed in local basketball when he created Davis Hoops in 2000. The local AAU club began modestly — three teams, a tournament here and there.
Mentoring his son Taylor, who once played for the Blue Devils, was part of Silva’s inspiration for the fledgling Hoops program.
When former Archbishop Mitty coach George Sousa became the Silvas’ next-door neighbor, the two basketball minds got together and Hoops began to grow to its current 20-team organization, which draws almost 300 boys and girls from this region and as far away as Los Angeles, Fresno and the Bay Area.
Now called NorCal Wildcats, the growth of Silva’s group wasn’t a surprise, at least to him and Sousa.
“It was always the original intent for it to grow,” Silva explained.
As a high school coach, Silva credits Sousa, former University of Redlands coach Gary Smith and even legends Mike Krzyzewski and John Wooden for direction and innovation.
“When George moved next door, he became a mentor to me and … we shared the vision of growing (the Wildcats),” Silva continues, adding that when his son Taylor attended Redlands, he had a chance to meet Smith, the father of breakneck-speed basketball.
When Smith retired a couple of years later, he moved to Davis to be near his extended family. It was a natural progression for the veteran coach to lend a hand at DHS — and the high-octane System was introduced to the Blue Devils.
The results? Winning Davis varsity teams, a playoff berth and one of the highest-scoring offenses in America.
Over the past three seasons, Silva’s JVs have averaged 20 wins (while playing 25- to 27-game schedules). It was entertaining basketball, if not yet championship-caliber. Crowds grew everywhere the Blue Devils played.
Longtime DHS head basketball coach Dan Gonzalez is sad to see Silva leave, but understands…
“He has been an extremely loyal coaching-staff member, friend, mentor and role model. He was always thinking about others — players, coaches, parents, community, staff members — and putting them first.
“He clearly understood that he was part of a program and that he would sacrifice personal interest for the good of the group. His dedication to improve the basketball program, on and off the court, is what I will miss the most with him gone.”
Silva attended a Michael Jordan camp in Las Vegas during which he got to talk with both Wooden and Krzyzewski. The Duke Hall of Famer told Silva that players and coaches needed “to not do anything to hurt themselves” and Wooden implored Silva to focus on the former UCLA guru’s Pyramid of Success as a sure building block to personal and team accomplishment.
Gonzalez said every season Silva would make sure that he discussed — block by block — Wooden’s pyramid with his team.
“It’s been a lot of fun at the high school,” Silva says, but adds this caveat: “I also saw the way the program was headed administratively.
“I had some frustrations in that decisions were being made throughout the athletic department … that (were) micromanagement. A varsity coach should be allowed to run his program as he sees fit.”
Silva believes “for an administration to micromanage puts everybody in jeopardy. Last year, as a coach, there were times I didn’t feel particularly supported … I felt under attack.
“To coach is a huge responsibility. Administrators — and I’ve been an administrator — should be supporting their coaches.”
Silva says administration should be a coach’s foundation: “The support that allows you to do your job.”
Regardless, Silva exits with a legacy that includes running Smith’s The System, getting three consecutive 20-win seasons (no small accomplishment at any level, but remarkable for a junior varsity team) and creating an environment of responsibility and support among the teams he coached.
Silva’s players annually signed contracts that pledged respect, integrity and work ethic. In his pre-season pacts, he wanted players to commit to supporting teammates, acquiring at least a 3.0 grade-point average and working to be model citizens.
“The way to be successful is to have a better program from youth up,” explains Sousa, a one-time assistant to Gonzalez.
“Bob created that. And it was never about Bob. With him it was always about the kids. He’s going to be missed.”
Notes: Silva introduced coaches Smith, Bruce Berry and Sousa to the DHS basketball program. … His eldest son Taylor (after a couple of years with the Sacramento Kings) works with the Oakland Raiders. Youngest son Jordan is a recording-arts major at Loyola Marymount University. Susan is a cosmetic dermatologist. … On Aug. 23, the Wildcats will host their inaugural fundraising golf tournament at El Macero Country Club. The bulk of the proceeds will go to providing scholarships for eligible ‘Cats members. Last year, more than 30 players played thanks to grants. More information about the Wildcats and the golf tournament can be found at www.davishoops.com. … DHS Athletic Director Dennis Foster — who, with former Devil assistant David Blackwell, has been running the school’s summer JV program — says Silva’s old position has not yet been opened for applicants.