Urban School basketball team on the rise, with varsity winning 10 of 14 preseason games


Junior varsity boy’s basketball team, photo curtesy of Urban athletic department

David Immerman, Staff writer

It used to be that the Blues were, well, blue. Years of losing seasons dampened the spirits of Urban’s basketball players. But this year is different.

While the boys’ varsity and junior varsity basketball teams had rough starts in their first series of Bay Counties League – West games, expectations are still high thanks to a successful preseason.

Junior varsity boy's basketball team, photo curtesy of Urban athletic department
Junior varsity boy's basketball team, photo curtesy of Urban athletic department

The varsity team won 10 out of its 14 preseason games. The JV team succeeded as well, winning eight out of 11 games. In addition, the JV team won a consolation round over Lick-Wilmerding High School in the “Best of the Bay” tournament, hosted by Berean Christian School in Walnut Creek.

Despite preseason success, both boys’ teams lost their first two games to Stuart Hall High School and Marin Academy, but managed to triumph over the Drew School. According to Maxpreps.com, an online, high-school sports-news website, the varsity’s league record as of Feb. 6 was 2-6, compared with a 1-7 record in 2009-2010. The JV league record as of Feb. 6 was 2-6 as well, compared with a INSERT record in 2009-2010.

On Jan. 25, the JV and varsity teams took on their rivals , University’s Red Devils. The JV team lost by a narrow margin of four points, and varsity fell to the Reds after a hard-fought battle. The final score was 32-70.

Joe Skiffer, varsity head coach and assistant athletic director, says that University was “by far the best team we played,” and that “not only are they a talented team, but they play hard.”

The question that many raise, though, is why the regular season unfolded so differently from the preseason?

Skiffer believes that in the preseason, “we were more talented than a lot of the teams we played,” and “we fought” and “played hard and smart.”

Nate Cohen (’13), a starting guard on varsity, says that during the preseason “everything was just clicking, we were playing good defense, and we were hustling.”

However, in the regular season, “we are playing better competition,” Skiffer said, which has caused the boys to “lose some confidence.” In order for the team to turn the season around, Skiffer says, that the boys “need to have a belief that they are more than capable and just as deserving to win a game as any other team in our league.”

Cohen says that even though “we don’t necessarily have that many skilled players, or anyone who really excels in something, we really have to focus on defense.”

Skiffer says a positive approach is critical: “It’s my goal, and it’s probably my job, to get people to think a different way.”

Losses aside, a different vibe is radiating from St. Agnes gymnasium this year. Greg Angilly, director of athletics, credits the change to the fact that “(frosh-soph) Coach Frank Davis and Coach Skiffer have brought a lot of positive energy. They are pushing for us to get bigger, faster, and stronger every day.”

Angilly also thinks that the JV and varsity boys “are practicing harder than they practiced last year; maybe that’s because they’ve had a few more wins.”

For Angilly, the biggest question is “if the boys expect to win every time they take the court.”