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SoCalHoops High School News

High School Team Preview:
Bellarmine Prep (San Jose)--(Nov. 10, 1999)

"We're not too tall, but we're fast." --Patrick Schneider, Head Coach Bellarmine Prep

Bellarmine is a Catholic college preparatory school, all men, which is located in San Jose, California.  So what does this have to do with "SoCal" you ask?  Well, not much, except that Bellarmine Prep will be playing against some of the best teams from SoCal and around the west in the Artesia-hosted "Best in the West Invitational Tournament" which is scheduled for December 27-30 at Cal State Long Beach at the "Goldmine" (the old West Gym) and the even older East Gym (not at the Pyramid, which will however be used this year for the Nike Dream Classic over the MLK Holiday weekend and for the Mater Dei-sponsored Nike Extravaganza.   Bellarmine Prep will play Serra, and this should be an interesting matchup, one in which Bellarmine will be really challenged to find people to effectively guard Aerick Sanders (6'-9" Sr. F/C) and Doyle Cole (6'-5" Sr. SG/SF)---the tallest player on the Bellarmine roster is only 6'-3".  But then Patrick Schneider's squad didn't have anyone really much bigger last year when they knocked off the NorCal surprise team of the year, San Francisco St. Ignatius which featured Luke Whitehead (6'-6" Sr. SF/SG) who is now at Oak Hill in Mouth of Wilson, VA.

Bellarmine is an academically enriched school with a rigorous curriculum, and the school says about it that "The academic program is for the college-bound student, fortified by both Honors Courses and the Advanced Placement Program (AP), which offers college credit."  Of the 315 graduating students last year, 100% went on to colleges or universities.  100%.  That is a staggering number in these days of student athletes who can sometimes barely write their own names and who have difficulty staying eligible for competition.  91.4% of the graduating seniors from last year attended four year universities; there were 27 National Merit Scholars in the class, and aside from the University of Santa Clara, which received the most graduates, Bellarmine Prep is known in educational circles as a breeding ground for scholar-athletes and a feeder for schools like Cal Berkeley and Stanford, which accepted more students from Bellarmine than any other single school. 

Patrick Schneider is the head coach, and he's in his 9th year there.  He got started in coaching through his father. "My dad was a coach at Tamalpais HS in Marin, and I just hung out in gyms all my life.  My mother wanted me out of the house, and it was a good thing, because it got me into the gym," Schneider told us. He attended and played high school ball at San Francisco St. Ignatius, where he played for Bob Drucker. "I started for two years and was the captain of the team," he recalled.  "And then I went to LMU, where I played for Ed Goorjian, who was then in his first season at LMU having come over from Crescenta Valley HS.  I walked on and that lasted one year," Schneider said.  After college he decided to give teaching a try, and in 1987 he started teaching at St. Monica's in Santa Monica, where he was also an assistant coach on the boys' varsity for four years (he was also the freshman boys' coach for the last three).  In 1991, he started looking for a more permanent head coaching job, and while he was applying for the job at St. Anthony's in Long Beach, he happened to call an old friend at Bellarmine for a recommendation.  "The guy refused to give me one.  I won't tell you what he said, but he did tell me that the only job he'd recommend me for was at Bellarmine," Schneider recalled.  "So I interviewed, they offered the job, and I took it.   I'm pretty happy I did," Schneider said.

Schneider is currently an administrator, the Dean of Students, although he has taught in the classroom, but he prefers coaching to math.   He's married with two kids, a boy who is a little less than a year old, and a daughter, age 2.  His wife runs a summer school program at Santa Clara University. Clearly, even though he attended school in SoCal, coached down here and played, he's a NorCal native at heart.

Bellarmine Prep competes in the West Catholic Athletic League in the Central Coast CIF Section.  If you've read our preview of Archbishop Mitty, then you know that the WCAL league has been in the same configuration for the last 35 years or so, and as a result, there are longstanding rivalries which have developed over the years. Teams that are part of the West Catholic Athletic League, along with Bellarmine are San Francisco Archbishop Riordan, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Mountain View St. Francis, San Francisco St. Ignatius, and Junipero Serra.  

And because the league is so geographically diverse, stretching from one end of the Bay Area to the other, it occupies the attention of a large and diverse population as well. "This is a really fun league," Schneider said. "We've got the same seven teams that we've always had, and right now, I'd say that St. Francis (Mountain View) should be a favorite, because they return all five of their starters, and they've also got this really tall player from Wilcox who transferred in. SI and Mitty also have a shot at the league title, and from there, I'd say it's a toss up.   It's going to be really fun to see three of our teams (Mitty, Bellarmine Prep, and St. Ignatius) all playing Southern California teams at the Best in the West. 

Bellarmine has only five returning players, and as we mentioned, not a lot of height.  Last year they finished second in the league to SI, but then ended up beating SI for the Central Coast Section title in something of a shocker. The section title was a reversal of prior year, in which Bellarmine won the league but lost the championship to St. Ignatius. Prior to Schneider taking over as head coach, Bellarmine had never won a league title much less a Section championship.  In the last 8 years, they've got 2 league titles and 4 section titles.

"We're kind of on the short side this year.  We'll have to do a lot of running, pressing, that sort of thing.  We'll probably have a lot of movement, since we're really a team of 11 guards and one forward.  Our offense will not really be a flex offense; it'll be a bit more spontaneous than that, but since we'll have mostly guards, I'd like to see us shoot the ball a lot and press on defense," Schneider said.  If we don't we're in trouble."  Here's the roster for 1999-2000:

Bryon Sykes 5'-11" Sr. PG
Jason Norman 6'-2" Jr. G
Ciki Ivy 5'-10" Sr. G
Chris Keene 6'-3" Sr. F
J.B. Long 6'-2" Jr. F/G
Brian McAllister 6'-2" Jr. F/G
Christino Rivera 5'-8" Jr. G
Marcus Martinez 5'-8" So. G
Aaron Williams 6'-2" Jr. G
Chris Klem 6'-3" Jr. F
Damien Hall 6'-2" Jr. F
Craig Macaraeg 5'-7" Sr. G

Ok, so roster is really just Schneider's idea of just fooling around; when they show up in Long Beach, that 5'-7" guy will really turn out to be 6'-7", right?  Wrong.  Despite being  vertically challenged, Bellarmine Prep always fields very tough, athletic teams, and this one will really not be much different in that respect. "Most of our guys can compete as college players, and that's what we prepare them for; maybe not to be D-I prospects, but a lot of our graduates go on to play at some of the best D-II and D-III schools.  Our players are always academically qualified, so those schools love us. One of our best players in a long time, Jeb Ivie, went to Sonoma State, and he's a good example of the kind of student-athlete we have," Schneider told us. 

If Jeb Ivie was last year's best basketball athlete,   this year it's probably Bryon Sykes, who is probably the most athletic skilled basketball player on the team. He's a solid ball-handler with excellent court skills, a quick-footed athlete who can run the floor, finish the break, drive and finish. "He's really a very cerebral player though," says Schneider. "He's very court saavy, think the game through, and is really an excellent player, the kind of guy you want playing point guard and leading the offense. He could be a D-I player, but right now a lot of schools don't know too much about him. That may change this season," Schneider told us. Christino Rivera, who is an excellent shooter and a good passer will most likely see time either at the two or more often at the one backing up Sykes, along with Marcus Martinez, who Schneider described at a "Strong player, a guy who doesn't make many mistakes with the ball, and that allows him and the team to take advantage of scoring opportunities."  Craig Macaraeg, a little speedster who can help on the trapping and pressing, probably won't join the team until sometime in December when football is over ("Although that might not be too late in the year considering how we're doing in football," Schneider joked).

Beyond the point, it's really hard to define what the "backcourt" will look like once you get past Sykes and his likely backups, because just about everyone else is also a guard of one kind or another, and everyone will really be expected to play several roles, whether that's rebounding, posting up, setting picks and screens, or diving on the floor for loose balls. And shooting.  This team will need outside shooting, because against taller teams like the Gardena Serra squad they'll face at the Best in the West, these guys aren't going to get many opportunities inside against guys like Doyle Cole or Aerick Sanders.   One of those backcourt players who might sneak inside though is Jason Norman, who is really more of a true slasher than a shooter.  He's a tremendous leaper, with great hops and according to Schneider, he could be one of the quickest players he's ever coached. Ciki Ivy is a solid defensive player, who can also get streaky with his shooting. "We had a workout the other day, and he was just shooting the ball unbelievably well.  Hopefully that will continue because we'll need it," Schneider said.  Aaron Williams is another slashing type of guard wing player, and his game was described as "similar to Jason Norman, a good slasher."

Schneider does have a few more shooters even if they are more inside players.  Chris Klem, is an excellent shooter, and he and Damien Hall are both physical, tough players who can find a way to get to the hole, or take it outside pretty effectively and hit the jumper out to about 17'.  At the wings we'd also look for Chris Keene and JB Long.  Keene is a very energetic player, really a terrific athlete with a strong, lean body who runs very well, and he could likely also be a college prospect, perhaps at the D-III or D-II level.  Long is a crafty, tough guy, who likes to do a lot of the inside dirty work that makes a team successful.  He'll get some help inside from Brian McAllister, another tough, physical guy who gets inside and bangs with the bigger opponents. 

"As you can see, we will have to live off of team defense and wearing people out, running, and pressing and trapping," Schneider said. "We'll just have to take it a game at a time to see what happens. But we're looking forward to coming down and playing some of the bigger teams."

Bellarmine Prep will open it's exhibition season on November 18 with the WCAL Jamboree, which is sort of like a scrimmage, but Schneider didn't know who they would play when we spoke a couple of days ago. There will be a bunch of individual games, including an alumni game on November 24, and then they'll play at the Mel Good Classic, the same holiday tournament in which Upland will participate, and it should be interesting to see if Bellarmine gets matched up against a team like Upland. "The tournament is all Division I teams, and because of the way Yuba City's Sac-Joaquin CIF Section works with it's "power rankings" to determine seedings at the playoffs, Yuba City designs this tournament so that they get three really solid D-I games each year," Schneider told us. And if he seems to have the inside line on this tournament, that's not a surprise since Bellarmine won it last year.  Depending on who else is participating, Upland could end up walking away with the championship.

After Yuba City, Bellarmine plays a home game against Woodside, and then travels to the Best in the West. Beyond that they'll play 12 league games, and they'll also appear in the NorCal version of the MLK Classic at St. Mary's College on Monday, January 17.

Here's the full schedule for the 1999-2000 season for Bellarmine Prep: 

Date Opponent Place Time
Nov. 18 WCAL Jamboree TBA TBA
Nov. 20 San Ramon Bellarmine 1:00pm
Nov. 24 Alumni Bellarmine 7:30pm
Dec. 9 Skyline Bellarmine 7:30pm
Dec. 11 Lincoln (SF) Bellarmine 7:30pm
Dec. 16-18 Mel Goode Classic Yuba City TBA
Dec. 21 Woodside Bellarmine 7:30pm
Dec. 27-30 Best in the West Long Beach TBA
Jan. 5 Sacred Heart* Sacred Heart 7:30pm
Jan. 7 St. Francis* Bellarmine 7:30pm
Jan. 14 Mitty* Mitty 7:30pm
Jan. 15 St. Ignatius* Bellarmine 7:30pm
Jan. 17 MLK Classic St. Mary's Col. TBA
Jan. 19 Serra* Serra 7:30pm
Jan. 21 Riordan* Bellarmine 7:30pm
Jan. 26 St. Francis* St. Francis 7:30pm
Jan. 28 Sacred Heart* Bellarmine 7:30pm
Feb. 2 Mitty* Bellarmine 7:30pm
Feb. 5 St. Ignatius* St. Ignatius 7:30pm
Feb. 8 Riordan* Riordan 7:30pm
Feb. 11 Serra* Bellarmine 7:30pm
Feb. 16-19 WCAL Playoffs St. Ignatius TBA
Feb. 21 CCS Playoffs

We can't really make any predictions on how well this Bellarmine Prep team will fare this year against the competition in the WCAL. But if past years are any indication, they're usually around when it counts and they usually do quite well. But only time will tell if they'll still be around for the Central Coast Section Finals again and a trip to the NorCal State Regionals of the State Championship Tournament.

 The Swish Award
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