SoCal Prep & High School Preview

Venice High: Speed, Talent,
and Some Hard Work-(October 31, 1997)

"A coach needs to be there for his kids, every day, every practice, every game."--Dave Goosen, Venice High Varsity Coach

Venice High Varsity Coach Dave Goosen comes from a family who's name is pretty well known in the sporting world. His uncles founded "TenGoose" boxing, the family is known for producing fine athletes, who are strong, tough competitors; there have been football players, and a few pro baseball players from among the clan. A hallmark of the family is a desire to work hard, not waste time, and to accomplish. Dave is no less athletically minded, and similarly driven. He was certainly one of the most enthusiastic coaches I've talked to this year.

Dave grew up in Los Angeles, and played his high school basketball at University High under coach Nakabara. He says his inspiration for coaching is derived from two people primarily: his father, and former UCLA basketball great John Galbraith. Of his father, Dave says he has never missed a single game in which Goosen has either played in or coached, still comes to practices and scrimmages, and continually helps out with fund raising for the team. Of Galbraith, he says that he first encountered him while at Uni High where Galbraith was an English teacher. Apparently while in high school, Dave lived, ate, slept and dreamed of nothing but basketball, and Galbraith once made an offhand comment to Goosen that with his interest in basketball, he might make a pretty good coach someday. Dave says that he guesses that stuck in his mind, because he's worked hard to learn coaching, first as a player at Uni, and then at Cal State Dominguez Hills, where he majored in Physical Education.

Of the team this year, Goosen was quick to acknowledge that Venice will be without David Bluthenthal (6-7 Sr. PF), who transferred to Westchester over the summer. "Sure, we'll miss the scoring that Dave gave us, but I think that overall, we'll be a better team this year," he said. He pointed out that last year, Bluthenthal would average about 30 ppg, but the team would still more often than not, lose. He clearly thinks that Bluthenthal is in a better environment this year for him, and that while they will be without his talents, it will force the players who are at Venice to work that much harder to play as a team. And Goosen likes what he's seen so far this year.

The roster:

Justin Steele (6'-4" Sr. C)
Kevin Johnson (6'-3" Jr. F)
Kevin McQueen (6'-0" Sr. G)
Erik Matsubayshi (5'-7" Sr. PG)
Darryl Howard (5'-9" Sr. G)
Glen McGowan (6'-6" Jr. F/C)
Kyle Williams (5'-11" Sr. G)
Derek Davis (6'-4" Sr. F)
Kevin Ito (5'-10" Sr. PG)
Kyle Morrison (5'-11" Soph G)
Trevor Oelrich (6'-1" Soph SG/F)
Stuart Wong (6'-1" Sr. PF)
J.P. Losman (6'-3" Jr. F/PF)
Craig Mikasa (5'-6" Sr. G)

Justin Steele, at 6'-4" and 200 lbs. is probably the biggest and strongest player on the team this year. He's developed some pretty decent footwork, and likes to get inside. And that's why he's especially valuable to this team: He wants to play Center. Most guys who are 6'-4" who have any ideas of playing beyond high school, typically want to play guard, because there aren't too many centers in college who are only 6'-4" anymore. Steele is a sort of "zen master" though of basketball. . .he's "here" for "now", not for "later". He simply likes to get inside and bang it around with seemingly bigger, stronger guys, and has that sort of "boxing" mentality (maybe that's why somebody named Goosen likes him so much). Steele is a fine defensive player, and is effective scoring from the post; he might not matchup so well with some of the bigger players in the league from schools like Westchester or Fairfax, but he'll bang around with the best of them and cause a lot of trouble for guys more his size.

Kevin Johnson, at 6'-3" is probably the "most improved" player on the team, up from JV, where he was really not much of an impact player. But Goosen is expecting big things from him, and he'll be a sort of secret weapon (well, I guess not too much of a secret anymore, huh?). He's probably not one of the "best" at anything in particular, but he can do everything very well, and certainly has the potential to develop this year into one of the best and could become a top prospect next year. He's got good speed, a good shot, and can do a "bunch of stuff" well, according to Goosen. He works hard every day, and Goosen thinks that next year he'll likely be an all league, and possibly all City player.

Kevin McQueen, is a senior transfer from Palisades, and is probably the best overall shooter on the team, he's one of the smartest, and is one of two captains this year. He's probably also the best defensive player on the team, with great footwork and nice lateral quickness. He's becoming a small D-I prospect, and Weber State, Idaho and Gonzaga have all expressed interest. Look for him to wait until the spring to commit in order to attract some additional attention from some of the other west coast schools in need of a good 6'-0" guard (who will likely be 6'-1" or 6'-2" by the time he graduates). McQueen can put it up from beyond the NBA 23ft three point line, and is a consistently good shooter; he does need to improve his speed some, and Goosen is working on this.

Erik Matsubayshi, another senior, at 5'-7" is the point guard and leader of this team. Goosen was quick to point out that he doesn't just lead by telling folks what to do, but he leads by example. At practice he's all business, and sometimes has to get the rest of the guys to toe the line. At game time, he's a very intense player, with great focus, and is a good passer. He's also tough, sometimes too tough for his own good. Goosen remembered a game against Pali last year where David Bluthenthal got elbowed pretty hard by Phil Czerian (now playing at Hawaii); while Bluthenthal probably could have taken care of the foul himself, Erik became the enforcer. "He just got in Phil's face, and it was amazing to watch, because there was about a foot difference between them in height." Erik has continued to develop his good shooting over the summer, has improved his defensive skills and is very quick. A nice package for a point.

Darryl Howard is "so fast that he can turn off a light switch and be in bed before the light goes out," according to Goosen. He's fast. And this isn't just Goosen's assessment. Coach Nakabara at Uni thinks that Howard may actually be the fastest player in the entire conference (and possibly the city this year). Goosen said that he just recently watched a tape of Howard and was truly amazed at how fast he was. "Howard was down at about our free throw line, having gotten downcourt on defense. The other team's player was down in his own backcourt, at about the other free throw line. Howard broke out into a full sprint, downcourt, and headed down around the lane, and came up around the back of the other player, who was still near his own free throw line, and stole the ball from behind," Goosen related. "If I hadn't seen it on the tape, I wouldn't have believed it. The other team never saw him coming." Yes he's fast.

Oh yeah, Howard is only 5'-9" and he DUNKS. Full on above the rim, dunking. He's got hops.

Glen McGowan, a 6'6" junior is probably the most talented of the big guys from a raw talent point of view. He could certainly become a D-I prospect, but he'll need to develop his work ethic a bit and toughen up inside. He's a great shooter, has a very nice jump, can pass, rebound, and in short has all the potential to be a great player, but he'll need to work this year to impress enough people that he's really D-I material. He's steadily improved over the summer, did well at the Pump Shootout, and comes from a basketball family (his brother Brian was a standout at Uni).

Kyle Williams is a transfer this year from Westchester (see it doesn't only go in one direction). Next to Darryl, he's probably the second fastest on the team, and can "jump out of the gym". He'll need to develop a lot of playing time this year since his experience level is really an unknown, but Goosen expects great things from him.

Derek Davis is a tall kid, but he's pretty skinny. He can dunk it, but you probably won't see him going inside on anyone; he'll put on a pretty good show on the break, but he'll need to bulk up to be able to go over some of the inside guys. He's a lefty with a pretty good touch from out to about 12-15 ft., but he'll need to develop his inside game. He does manage to get up on the glass though, and has proven to be an effective rebounder if he can get inside; the trick for him is getting through some of the widebodies he'll be facing.

Kevin Ito, another senior, will backup Erik at the point. He's a "solid" player, smart, has a nice shot, a good handle, and is just a real steady guy. He's probably the second best shooter on the team, with the potential to develop into the best from outside at 3-point range. He plays nice aggressive defense, diving for loose balls, and in short, does just about everything that's asked of him and more. Look for him to get significant pt this year.

The team this year has two Sophomores, who like to hang together, and known on the team as Venice's version of "Beavis & Butthead". Beavis would be Kyle Morrison: he's a scrappy, tough kid, who loves to take charges, also dives for loose balls, and plays quick and fast. Butthead would be Trevor Oelrich, who has the potential to develop into a very nice 2 or 3 spot player, with a nice shot and good defense. Goosen looks to them to be the future nucleus of the team in coming years, and while he's not certain about the extent of the contribution they'll make this year, he's certain that they will one day be starters on the varsity.

Stuart Wong, another 6'-1" senior is probably one of the most underrated players on the team. He's another guy who likes to play inside in the post, a real "banger". He can lift more weight than anyone on the team, and he's probably also the smartest, with a 4.2 GPA. Look for him to make a contribution in defensive situations inside.

J.P. Losman is a four sport varsity player, who starts in three of those sports: Football, where he's the QB, Baseball, where he's the starting shortstop, and track, where he stars. Basketball is really not his top priority, but when he plays, and he will play as soon as the football season ends, he always makes a contribution. He's got a nice shot from close in, loves to bang around on the boards and under the basket, and at 6'3" has some pretty good size to do it.

The most inspirational player on this year's squad is Crag Mikasa. Goosen says that with Erik and Kevin Ito, he's the "third amigo". He simply showed up one day at the gym with them, and started to practice. He kept coming back, and he's never left. He's sort of like the ML Carr of the Venice varsity; he never misses a practice, never misses a team meeting, is always there for the other players, and even if he doesn't see a lot of playing time, is always the guy waving the towel and cheering the team. He's been known to put up a few threes, plays very aggressive defense, and Goosen described him as one of the best kids he's ever coached.

Goosen's getting help coaching this year from his best friend, and most devoted fan, Olin Bjork, who he says saved his life at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Seems Olin was an English major and could type; Goosen didn't have a computer, and Olin did. Olin must be devoted, or at least Goosen must have some pictures of him that he's using for blackmail: Goosen says that Olin typed and edited all of his college papers, and gladly did it for free. Either this guy's a great friend or he needed practice typing; I bet it's the latter. Olin also played basketball at Uni with Goosen, and he's got a solid knowledge of the game. He's great with the kids, and is really helping this year. Also assisting will be Don Barnes, also a fine basketball strategist.

Venice High will also compete in a few pre-season tournaments this year. They'll be at the Beverly Hills Tournament, the Van Nuys Tournament, and the Eagle Rock Tournament. More details, including dates and times for these soon.

Goosen thinks that this is the single best group of kids he's ever coached. Not necessarily in terms of individual talent. But in terms of being a "group". He admitted again that there's probably no one on the team with the pure talent of someone like David Bluthenthal. But then sometimes the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, (or something like that); at least in this case, this group will be a more cohesive unit than last year, and will certainly win a few more games than last year's squad. Look for Venice to be playoff bound, and to be the big surprise of the Coastal Conference in LA City Boys' Varsity Basketball. All it takes is a bit of talent, and lots of hard work. Goosen's a hard worker, a fighter who comes by it honestly, and he's the kind of guy who can bring out the best in his athletes.

The Swish Award

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