With a tumultuous coaching predicament during the offseason, Las Positas College Athletics Director Dyan Miller had a lot to think over. After several interviews and an hour long business lunch, she made her decision. The decision in which Miller made seems to have steered the Lady Hawks basketball program in the right direction.
After a 0-10 conference record last season, the Lady Hawks basketball team was looking for a change, presumably any change. In new head coach Clarence Morgan, they may have found the best kind possible. Morgan has spent a 30 year career around basketball from building youth basketball camps and clinics, to helping send a multitude of young athletes to division-I schools.
“I nitpick,” Morgan said. “I’m picky, but just to make them better. You can score 25 points in a game and if a coach is scouting you and your fundamentals are off, they’ll walk on out. But if you’re fundamentally sound, you can miss every shot and they’ll walk out thinking it was just an off night.”
Fundamentals seem to be a cornerstone of Morgan’s teachings, with an emphasis on footwork and basic ball handling skills.
“At the next level, they don’t have time to teach fundamentals,” he said.
Morgan’s demeanor while speaking of the game screams experience and knowledge, and with former Oregon State University center Tiffany Ducker rendering a helping hand as his assistant, the pair look forward to the possibility of multiple winning seasons.
The team is heavy with freshman guards, something that Morgan sees as a potential challenge during the early parts of the season, but one that can be overcome with experience. A big part of the game-plan for the Lady Hawks this season will be controlling the clock and making sure the ball gets to the right players at the right times.
“Are we playing to our strengths or to our weaknesses,” he said referring to his style of play. “You can get a real athletic player that looks really good on highlight reels, but makes tons of mistakes or you can get a player that never makes a highlight film but doesn’t make a mistake, that doesn’t turn the ball over.”
In practice, the teachings of the new coach shine through in comparison to last season and players seem to feed off of his resume and knowledge, especially with assistant coach Ducker. While playing for Oregon State, Ducker was fifth in conference during her junior season for shooting percentage and ended her career there in the school’s top 10 all time for rebounds.
What Morgan brings to Las Positas beyond the court is that he has aided several athletes to move onto bigger four year schools to continue their education.
“I want to make sure we can get them in here, and move them out so they can be self-sufficient, continue their education and not have to depend on anybody,” he said. “That’s the goal. Where they go, it doesn’t matter, the same books are everywhere. Just as long as they can further their education and go on and get a decent job. That’s my goal with the program.”
From the books to the court, the one word that remains in the rhetoric with Morgan is ‘smart.’ He wants smart players, he wants to play smart and he doesn’t care if there is no LeBron James-type finesse to his team as long as they can do that. The only other thing he requires of his players is that they want to work hard in order to play the game better.
“You gotta want to be here to make it work for you,” said Morgan. “As a player you never have to tell me to come to practice, I want to be there. Being on a good basketball team really makes your college experience that much better.”