Currie – no, not that one – comes up big and the Falcons put together a good enough effort against Glendale.
By Brandon HENSLEY
Last June as the Crescenta Valley High School basketball team prepared to take the floor in a summer league game, Coach Shawn Zargarian walked by with an announcement.
“I have a new rule for the media,” he said. “No more questions about Nick Springer.”
It had been a surprising off-season at that point for Zargarian’s team. Springer, the lanky sharp-shooter with enough size to excel in the post, would undoubtedly be the main guy for a CV team expected to compete for a Pacific League title for the 2013-14 season.
But Springer announced he would transfer to the Pasadena private school Maranatha for his senior season to join forces with Coach Tim Tucker, who was leaving his post at Pasadena High.
So although Zargarian had moved on by the time summer rolled around, he’d clearly had enough of talking about the development, or least thinking about it. What he had to do was find a way to get his suddenly small, suddenly not as talented team ready for a new kind of journey this year.
Led by co-captains Berj Krikorian and Eric Bae and center Eric Patten, the Falcons are currently doing about as well as one might expect. The team beat Glendale High School 69-58 on Tuesday night in the league opener, a game in which CV struggled to do anything right to start, but eventually found its way.
“Our first three possessions, the person who was supposed to inbound the ball doesn’t inbound the ball,” Zargarian said, recounting the mistakes. “Then we were supposed to cover a ball screen, and we screwed up. Then we were defending the [offensive] action they run and we screwed up.”
The Falcons (8-6) trailed 23-16 after one quarter.
“I don’t care who you’re playing,” he said of Glendale, which fell to 3-7, “23 points is … you’re on pace to give up a hundred points,” Zargarian said.
The Falcons’ pregame goal was to have one quarter where they held Glendale to under 10 points. They managed that in the fourth, when the Dynamiters scored just four points.
Still, things could have been better. The Falcons had trouble defending Glendale center Arthur Terzyan, listed at 6’8” and 285 pounds. Zargarian said the goal was to have Patten play in front of him, but his defense pressure was lacking, as well from whoever was guarding the player with the ball on the wing. That led to a combination of easy baskets from both the outside and inside early on.
“We’re still trying to figure it out,” said Krikorian. “We want to be a tough defensive team, but at times today we definitely didn’t show that.”
How to fix those problems?
“We need to talk,” he said. “When we get tired we stop talking. Sometimes we only like to give one effort [per defensive possession]. On every possession we have to give multiple efforts to secure the rebound.”
Patten scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Krikorian found his stroke and contributed 17 points, but it was junior guard Kyle Currie who had the standout offensive game. Currie, the younger brother of former Falcon star Cole, led the way with 28, including seven 3-pointers. In fact, his only field goals came from beyond the arc; the other seven points were free throws.
“He has a shooter’s mentality,” Krikorian said. “He’s a great shooter, that’s what he does, and we need that out of him.”
“If Kyle doesn’t shoot like that, we’re probably down double digits going into halftime,” Zargarian said (CV led by three points at the break).
Currie is part of a group that includes Bae and Arin Pezeshkian that is expected to provide consistent long-range shooting from now until the end of the season in mid-February. That style of play has been seen regularly around CV in recent years, from Dylan Kilgour to Kris Jabourian to … Nick Springer.
But, right, he’s not here anymore, and in part because of that, Zargarian said his team will have to change styles from game to game. Tuesday they trapped and applied pressure to Glendale, but “when you see us play Muir on Friday we’ll probably be sprinting back to the paint trying to protect it, trying to rebound the ball.”
The Mustangs, who will be at Crescenta Valley Friday at 7 p.m., are 4-5, but beat Arcadia 59-41 in their league opener. Their roster includes Dejon Williams, who played quarterback this past season for Muir and was named offense player of the year in the Pacific League.
The Boys Were Back in Town
Sitting next to Zargarian and his regular assistant DoVall Boykins Tuesday night were Eric Strangis and Michael Crownover, which may not seem odd considering they were both on the bench every game last season. But this year it’s been a different story, with both men working day jobs that take them away from coaching.
Zargarian, though, said Strangis and Crownover were always welcome back to take their seats on games they are able to attend. Strangis is a Falcon graduate and played some of his college ball at USC. Crownover went to Oaks Christian High School.
“You take for granted how important assistant coaches are, in so many ways,” Zargarian said. “I’m not the type of guy to have an ego, so when Eric’s here, he’s the defensive coach. I hand it off to him. When (former assistant Matt Reid) was here, he ran our offense and called sets. When you’re head coach you have to watch so many things and you might forget one thing. I say you’re not a great head coach unless you surround yourself with other great coaches.”
National Champion in the House
Attending Tuesday night’s game and sitting in the middle area of the bleachers on Falcons’ fans side was Jim Harrick who, after the game, quietly strolled out of the lobby and into the night, past several people whispering and pointing at him.
Basketball fans will know Harrick, who was head coach at UCLA when the Bruins won the National Championship in 1995. Harrick, 75, also spent time coaching at Pepperdine University and the University of Georgia. He lives in the La Cañada area.