The teams aren’t so familiar with one another, but the head coaches sure are.
When No. 13 seed Las Positas travels to No. 4 Santa Rosa on Friday in Round 2 of the Northern California Regionals of the CCCAA Men’s Basketball Championships, Hawks coach James Giacomazzi will see an old friend in Craig McMillan guiding the Bear Cubs. Before being hired three years ago at Las Positas, Giacomazzi had a successful 12-year run at Cosumnes River, where he won 209 games, earned two Big 8 Conference titles, and was named conference Coach of the Year twice. He often was pitted against McMillan’s Santa Rosa squads.
“I really know and respect Coach McMillan,” Giacomazzi said Monday afternoon. “We’re good buddies and we always had great competition against each other, and so looking forward to that matchup, but they’re a very good team. They went 16-0 in conference. They shoot the ball very well, but at the same time we haven’t crossed paths this year.”
The Hawks (18-10), led by first-team all-Coast-North Conference big men Anand Hundal and Peter Hewitt, have prepared well for this tough road test. After a rough three-week stretch in January, Las Positas found its mojo. The Hawks have won four of their last five, including revenge victories over playoff teams Foothill and Canada and a 75-71 loss to No. 1 seed CCSF. They also avenged a loss with a 90-75 victory over Skyline on Friday.
Improved consistency has been the key down the stretch for the Hawks.
“Any time we can limit our turnovers and play inside-out we’re going to be a lot more effective,” Giacomazzi said. “We’ve just been a lot more patient, our shot selection has improved. Our turnovers have been not as frequent, and so we’re playing at a better pace. We’re a little more under control and we kind of have a little better identity on both sides of the floor.”
Of course, having the 6-foot-10 duo of Hundal and Hewitt – aka ‘The H Factor’ -- patrolling the paint never hurts. A sophomore stalwart, Hundal had 25 points against Skyline after amassing 29 points, 12 boards and four blocks in a win over Chabot. “He’s been a double-double machine for the whole season and even increased his play and his numbers in conference play,” Giacomazzi said of Hundal. “Our conference is No. 1 in Northern California, so any time your numbers go up against better competition, that’s always a positive.”
Hewitt, a new addition this season, has been playing “better too of late,” the coach said. “It took him a while to kind of get going, but once he found his niche in playing with Anand and those kind of things, it’s been a lot smoother for him. He’s been very similar in also being at a double-double in conference play.”
Hawks guard John Ketchel also made honorable mention in the Coast-North.
Although Giacomazzi hadn’t seen the film of the Bear Cubs as of Monday afternoon, he knows what to expect from McMillan’s team. “Traditionally his teams shoot the ball extremely well from three, they move without the basketball extremely well,” Giacomazzi said. “They do not turn the ball over at all, so they’re very sound defensively. You put all those things together, they’re just a well-coached team that’s going to execute to the best of their ability and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The Las Positas-Santa Rosa winner will face either No. 5 Foothill or No. 12 Butte in Round 3 on March 3.
TV TIME: The Las Positas-SRJC game (7 p.m. tipoff) will be streamed on http://norcalsportstv.com