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JJ SAYS

Another new basketball coach at Petaluma

Published: Monday, November 12, 2012 at 9:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 12, 2012 at 9:01 a.m.

Here we go again. Petaluma High has a new head basketball coach. By my count, and admittedly math has never been my strong suit, that is four in the last five years.

I was pretty excited when I interviewed Scott Davis back in August. Based on my first impression, I thought he was the right man for the job. I did report that he was sanctioned by the NCAA for alleged recruiting violations that occurred in the girls basketball program at Cal Poly Pomona while he was head coach. That part had to be told as did his record of success in working with young players and the respect he had earned for coaching kids from youth to college.

I haven't been able to reach him to find out why he chose to leave just a few weeks from the start of the season. I'm not about to dignify rumors and innuendoes. Frankly, I don't care why he chose to leave the Petaluma job. I'm more interested in what happens now.

What happens now is that John Behrs has moved up from the junior varsity to take on the challenge of the Petaluma program. From what I can initially tell, Petaluma got lucky.

To find a qualified coach on such short notice is like finding the last dime you need for a vending machine soda on the sidewalk when you're desperate for a drink.

I didn't see a lot of the Petaluma junior varsity team last season, but from what I did see, mostly second halves, they looked to be a well-disciplined group that competed hard.

I did have a chance to have a cup of coffee with the coach last weekend just before his first practice on Monday. Actually, and here is the only scoop you get today, he preferred tea to coffee.

Behrs has several things going for him. He is a Petaluma guy. He grew up in Petaluma, attended Petaluma High, coached local CYO teams, coached at Kenilworth and coached at the freshmen and junior varsity levels at Petaluma. He will fit right in as a member of the Petaluma family.

He knows the players. He has coached most of what will be his varsity team since they were freshmen. The players will know what to expect from him and he will know what to expect from them.

It is really a two-for-one proposition for the high school. With Behrs comes a ready-made assistant coach in his son, Scott, who will help with player development and do much of the scouting.

Behrs brings with him an enthusiasm that is badly needed in the Petaluma gym. He also has a philosophy I like.

“I need for the kids to come in and want to go to practice,” he says. “I need them to have the mindset that they will do whatever it takes to get better. I want them to improve from the first practice to the last practice.”

A big plus for Behrs as an off-campus coach is that, as a general contractor who is own boss, he has the time to devote to his coaching duties.

I have no qualms about Behrs' coaching abilities. I think he and his players will get along fine and I believe they will display the attributes of a well-coached team regardless of the won-loss record.

The concern is that he can't coach and the players can't play in a vacuum. They will be on display every game and subject to the same outside pressures that have taken their toll on previous Petaluma coaches.

If Petaluma wins 20 games, all will be right with the world. If the scoreboard too often tells a different story, the new coach will need a lot of support.

Let's hope that, regardless of the scores, he gets the support he needs to turn the Petaluma High School basketball program around.

(Contact John Jackson at johnie.jackson@arguscourier.com)

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