GALT — Brian Chavez had one word itched on the back of his Liberty Ranch High boys basketball T-shirt he wore on Wednesday.
That is something Chavez plans on continuing to do in a program that belonged to a former coach who worked for Chavez.
According to Liberty Ranch High Athletic Director Anthony Linebaugh in an email earlier this month, Chavez has been named the new school’s new boys basketball head coach. Chavez takes over for Josh Williams, who led Liberty Ranch to its fourth consecutive Sierra Valley Conference title last winter. Williams also led the Hawks to many Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berths during his tenure.
“We had a very solid pool of applicants,” Linebaugh said. “Brian’s passion for the program, prior experience, and vision for an already established program to reach new heights really stood out. We look forward to the upcoming season.”
For the last eight seasons, Chavez was the Christian Brothers High boys basketball head coach. He led Christian Brothers, out of Sacramento, to five of eight winning seasons. He has a combined record of 112 wins and 85 losses.
“I got a lot of respect for him,” said Liberty Ranch guard Jalen Patterson, who will be a four-year starter this winter. “He’s been doing this for 20 years, so he knows what he’s doing. Our relationship is growing. I’ve known him for a couple (of) years, but we didn’t start getting close until he got hired.”
Chavez will be an off-campus coach. He works for the Cosumnes Community Services District in Elk Grove as a recreation coordinator for sports.
Williams, according to Chavez, had already told him he was going to resign from the coaching post.
“We’ve known each other for years,” Chavez said. “He let me know that he had stepped down and I said to him ‘I’d be interested in the job.’”
Williams added, “Great guy. Great coach. Couldn’t be more happy with him taking over and continuing the basketball success at Liberty Ranch.”
Chavez and Williams, plus Liberty Ranch Principal Joe Saramago, have history among the trio. Chavez was the Galt High boys basketball head coach at the start of this decade for three seasons, and Williams was the freshmen head coach for one season.
Then Williams took over the Liberty Ranch boys basketball program after Mike Turpin stepped down after the 2011-12 season. Saramago was the assistant principal at Galt High earlier this decade before being transferred to Liberty Ranch to serve in the same role. He became principal in 2016.
“All of those things combined led me to go for the job,” Chavez said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Patterson and returning players from last winter’s team, plus some junior varsity players, spent time inside The Hawks Nest learning Chavez’s offensive and defensive schemes. According to Chavez, most of the system is similar to Williams’ style of play that led to building the dynasty.
“Our personnel is going to be a little bit different from the seniors that graduated,” Chavez said. “We want to play an uptempo offense, run the floor, look for opportunities to score in transition. I’m a strict believer in ball movement. Spacing and reading the defender both on the ball and off the ball. I like to do zone press and man press; defense creates turnovers. I’m primarily a man-to-man guy, but will go zone when the situation is right.”
Chavez will have two key pieces returning in Patterson and another guard in Isaac Padilla. Patterson who was named the SVC’s MVP for a second consecutive year last winter, averaged 23.1 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game. Padilla, also a senior, 15.4 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per game.
“A talented guard in Jaylen,” said Chavez of Patterson. “We have these guys (including Padilla) use to playing a certain way, and together for awhile. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, just what’s easier for the kids.”
The Hawks have been taking part in summer league games at Florin High of Sacramento, plus weekend tournaments. This weekend, Liberty Ranch will take part in the Sheldon-Franklin Summer Jam at Sheldon of Sacramento and Franklin of Elk Grove.
“We’ve played good competition,” Chavez said.
The Hawks plan to continue their workouts until July 29. That is when, according to the Sac-Joaquin Section’s website — cifsjs.org — has its winter sports teams go into the dead period until Sept. 8. Then basketball teams, boys and girls, can have off-season workouts through Oct. 13 when the dead period starts again. Teams can still take part in weight training and conditioning during the dead periods.
“We’ve been together for a month now,” Chavez said. “That’s not a lot of time, but for me, the off-season is about player development.”
Liberty Ranch will play a tougher pre-season schedule this winter. The Hawks will begin with the Nor-Cal Tip Off Tournament at Rocklin High, followed with the Mark Gallo Invitational at Central Catholic High of Modesto and the Modesto Christian Holiday Classic. Each tournament run four days, and have 16 teams.
“It is different,” Chavez said. “Three major tournaments.”
One of Liberty Ranch’s non-league games will include a trip to The Inferno, when it will play Lodi.
Chavez has only one other coach in the program; assistant coach Jay Long, who coached in the boys basketball program at Mesa Verde High of Citrus Heights. Chavez plans to hire a new JV and freshmen head coaches in upcoming months.
Now the new head coach wants to continue what Williams established, and then some.
“We want to honor everything that Josh has done,” Chavez said. “I’m also big on character and the little things. We’re working on with our players, doing the little things and working harder.”
Contact Mike Bush at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.