Let the playoffs begin for Yuba men
The proper name for the postseason isn't catchy enough for the Yuba College men's basketball team, so they made one up. Starting tonight, is the "First to Five."
It's a saying the players started using after 49ers coach Doug Cornelius wrote out a pep talk in black Magic Marker. Next to a complete bracket is this message:
"One win gets you to the Sweet 16, two the Elite 8, three the Final Four, four the state runner-up and five gets you the state title," Cornelius recalls writing on the team's big dry erase board.
The path to reaching step No. 1 starts at 7 p.m. when seventh-seeded Yuba takes on Las Positas in the opening round of the California Community College Athletic Association Northern California Playoffs.
On Thursday, the Yuba players' outlook pleased Cornelius and the coaching staff. In film sessions they were attentive and aware, far more than they were at times during similar lessons during their perfect Bay Valley Conference run.
"They took it a lot more seriously and paid attention and asked good questions," the coach said. "This team that we're playing is no joke."
The 10th seeded Eagles of Livermore (16-12) have a record that doesn't reflect their strength. The school plays in the highly competitive Coast Conference, which is represented nine times on the 18-team bracket. They have a Division-I 6-foot-10 big man and a trio of shifty guards.
The especially worrisome spot for Yuba is how they'll handle the play of Tim Thomas, the 6-10 future Tiger at University of the Pacific. Yuba's Julian Scott has the strength to contend but is 3 inches shorter and Shola Diop's knee has been bothering him, Cornelius said.
Still, the Yuba roster is in a comfortable position.
"They're loose," Cornelius said. "They're excited and I think they understand the repercussions."