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SoCal Prep & High School Preview

Crespi Carmelite High School--(November 14, 1997)

"I'm a disciple of Michael Cooper; I believe in the five "D's"--Dedication, Desire, Determination, Decisionmaking, and Discipline."--Dick Dornan

Dick Dornan is in his first year as Varsity Coach at Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino. Dornan is assisted by Dave Lorenz, Tom Cassidy and Jason Perez this year. Crespi plays in the Mission league of the Southern Section CIF along with Alemany, Chaminade, Harvard -Westlake, Loyola, Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks), and St. Francis. The team competes in Division 4, and last year Harvard-Westlake won the State Championship in the Division. This year figures to be a completely different in league, and the big challengers will be Loyola, Chaminade, Notre Dame and Crespi (probably in that order), although H-W is probably being vastly underrated by a lot of folks--although they're without the Collins twins, Rico Cabrerra and Ryan Smiley, they still have a lot of talent, and personally we at SoCalHoops think that the entire league is up for grabs. Crespi may not be the favorite to win the title this year, but they're probably going to surprise a lot of people with just how good they really are.

Dornan is another of the new young breed of coaches coming up through the high school ranks. He played high school ball at Crespi, graduating in 1986. He attended the University of Notre Dame, graduating in 1990. He credits former Laker Michael Cooper with inspiring him to go into coaching; from 1990 through 1995, Dornan worked for the Lakers in public relations and had plenty of opportunity to observe Cooper and the Laker staff up close; of course these were the turbulent years, post Magic, post Riley, even post Pfund, and Dornan saw the best and the worst of coaching. He says he's really a disciple of Cooper's philosophy, the five "D's" and he has tried to instill that in his teams each year.

While still working for the Lakers, he worked for a year as the Freshman coach at Newbury Park High during the 93-94 season. It was during that year that former Crespi coach and AD Paul Muff died and Coach Yerina was moved up from the JV to the Varsity, creating an opening on the Crespi staff. Dornan saw an opportunity to fill the void, and stepped in, coaching the JV squad to it's best record since the 1983 season, the best 3 year consecutive record since the 1983-85 seasons (coincidentally when Dornan attended as a student), and winning the first League Championship since 1985.

Dornan (who's not married, but who will be scouting the stands heavily both at home and away games for a prospective bride), believes that his team this year shows tremendous promise, speed, quickness and intelligence. It's basically last year's JV squad moving up, and there are only 4 returning players, and only one starter from last year's varsity in the bunch. But the team has played together for a few years, first as frosh, then as JV, and as such, Dornan believes there's a great chemistry.

The roster:

#3- Pat Dornan (6'-0" Jr. PG 170 lbs.)
#4- Ryan Moore (6'-0" Sr. SG 160 lbs.)
#10- Andy Owings (5'-10" Sr. PG 165 lbs.)
#20- Brandon Riedl (6'-6" Jr. C 185 lbs.)
#21- Howard Johnson (5'-9" Sr. PG 155 lbs.)
#22- Jordan Johnson (6'-2" Soph. F 175 lbs.)
#23- Mirtis Ducksworth (6'-0" Sr. SG 180 lbs.)
#24- Tim McDonough (6'-1" Jr. SG 155 lbs.)
#30- Pat Casella (5'-10" Soph. SG 165 lbs.)
#32- Blake Tibbetts (6'-1" Jr. G 175 lbs.)
#33- Marcin Jagoda (6'-3" Jr. F 170 lbs.)
#34- John Bird (6'-5" Jr. F 195 lbs.)
#42- Robert Muller (6'-3" Jr. F 170 lbs.)
#44 James Spratt (6'-7" Sr. C 230 lbs.)

Dornan believes the starting five will look like: Howard Johnson and Mirtis Ducksworth in the backcourt, Marcin Jagoda and Robert Muller at the forward spots, and Spratt at center. Not huge, but certainly not small either with a front line averaging 6'-4".

Among this group, HJ at the point, and the team captain this year, is the only returning starter from last year's varsity, (and on the whole team, only HJohnson, Moore, Bird and Ducksworth were lettermen). At the 1 spot, HJ is a saavy floor leader, who can penetrate and shoot, and has very good speed; he's probably not as much of a pure 1 as Dornan's little brother Pat is (who'll probably be the starter next season), but he's also quicker than Dornan. HJ is also a tailback on the Varsity football team, and knows how to use his speed and handle in a crowd. Dornan will see significant time subbing for HJ as will Andy Owings. Dornan is a very smart, smooth player, not real flashy, but a very steady player, a true point who will look for the open man first, and then try to create off the dribble. Dornan's also a pretty good shot, has a nice handle and has very solid fundamentals. In short he knows the game. At the other backup point spot is Owings, who did not play last year, but who probably has the most raw potential of any of the guards; he has the most creative ability to take a player off the dribble, and is the best ballhandler on the floor. He did well in summer league play and Dornan is looking for him to get some valuable minutes, although Pat D will probably see more action in preparation for next year.

At the 2 spot, Moore is really the senior leader on the team, he's the three point threat and has a great first step off the dribble--he's probably the best one-on-one man offensively that Crespi's got this year, and can also play great defense; he's very sound fundamentally and has good footwork, and presents both an inside and outside threat; he needs to learn to develop his defense though if he's truly going to become effective as an overall player. Backing up at the 2 spot will be Duckworth, McDonough, Casella and Tibbetts. Duckworth is the most reliable shooter on the team, plays good solid defense, and is the most consistent player overall, who will provide excellent senior leadership. McDonough is one of the best three-point shooters on the team, very court smart, and has one of the best attitudes on and off the court we've seen. He'll see some time at both the 2 and 3 spots, and is the best "pure shooter" on this team. Casella will also see major playing time, and is probably the most explosive guy on the squad. He's very quick off the dribble and can break down a defense with his nice crossover, and he's got a pretty good j out to about 17'. Also look for Tibbetts to get some major time at the 2-3 spot--he's the hustler on the team; he rebounds, shoots, plays very aggressive d, and has a nose for the ball; look for him to be in during pressure situations when the trap or press is on. He plays tremendously for his size, and if he were a bit bigger (c'mon Blake, keep growing) he could be a D-I prospect.

On the frontline, Jagoda, Muller and Spratt will probably start for now. Jagoda is a top defender, very athletic with great footwork and probably the most improved player from last year. He's got a nice shot and good range, and he's also a volleyball player which has helped his leaping ability and improved his hands. Muller is an excellent rebounder, who is the team's fastbreak finisher. He's also going to lead the team in steals if last year is any indication, and he's a very quick defender with great hands and is good at causing deflections, tips and turnovers. Spratt, at center, is playing his first year at the varsity level, and is clearly going to be the "big man" at 6'-7". He's an excellent shot blocker, has good agility under the rim and inside away from the basket, and certainly doesn't need to do any bulking up at 230 lbs. He's also an All-League Volleyball player and has nice hands and footwork for a guy his size.

Backing up in the middle will be Brandon Reidl, who is a dominant shot blocker, even if he's a bit thin for inside play; he's up from the JV and has been improving daily. And believe it or not, at 6'-6" and only 185 he's actually put on a good deal of weight from last season when he was a sort of "Shawn Bradley" type. He's been pumping the iron pretty good lately and is getting some good muscle definition. His biggest obstacle will be getting his head into every game, but when he does there are few who can match him in shot blocking ability.

Also backing up the forwards will be John Bird and Jordan Johnson. Bird is another of the returning letterman from last year's varsity, who will see a lot of time this year. He's got some great post moves, and is the strongest player on the team. Unfortunately he won't be cleared to play for at least the next 3-4 weeks, as he suffered a hip injury; but he's healing up nicely and should be ready to play by the time of the tournaments in December. Jordan is a steady, very athletic player, who also could really be playing guard--he's got a good handle, can penetrate nicely to the hole, has nice entry passing ability and can create off the dribble.

Dick Dornan (and yes, he's a nephew of that other, more famous Dornan, Bob) says that he's going to play an up-tempo fast-break type of offense, and other teams will see whole groups of fresh 5's coming into the game in waves of substitutions. Given the relative small size of this team, compared to some of the other teams in the league and the Southern Section, Dornan wants to keep this group running constantly. And since he's coached most of these players at the JV level, compiling a 44-24 record in three years, 25-11 last season, this is probably a pretty good strategy with this group.

Crespi will have plenty of chances this season to impress a lot of people very early on. They will start playon December 2, 1997 when they play Canyon; on December 4 they will be featured in the John Wooden Classic 1st Annual High School Invitational, where they will matchup against traditional powerhouse Mater Dei, which itself is in a rebuilding year. Then they'll travel to San Luis Obispo on the 5th and 6th of December for the SLO Tip Off Classic, where they'll face off against Mater Dei again. We'll be getting the tournament details, including times, locations and brackets for the SLO tournament and for the Ventura Tournament as well which Crespi will play in during December. The Wooden Classic is already featured on our Tournaments page, and tickets are still available.

This is a fine team, which will do very well if it adheres to the 5D principle (quick, someone tell Reinaldo Henry of the 4D All Stars that he's missing a "D"). Dornan thinks that with a lot of hard work, not to mention Dedication, Desire, Determination, Decisionmaking, and Discipline, that all good things are possible. He's probably right. The rest is up to his team.

The Swish Award

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