It is Day 2 of the 1st Annual Chris Huber Basketball Tournament, Monday December 29th. Please enjoy Part 2 of my interview with the tournament ambassador, Coach Chris Huber. If you missed Part 1 of my interview with Chris Huber, you can find it in the Booster e-mail from 12/28/2014. Here is more with Chris.
RM: What made you decide to go back to high school?
CH: The job opened full time at Contra Costa College but I didn’t get it. I applied for it but didn’t get it. There was another individual, a coach from the LA area with more experience than I had, he got the job. So, that was fine. So I talked to Randy Takahashi because he was a teacher at El Cerrito for a period of time and we were friends and he let me know that there was a job opening at Acalanes so I said I would apply for it. I applied for the job but I didn’t get the coaching job. It went to Russ Scheibley. So, I said fine. I was going to stay at El Cerrito. Then they called me back and said that there was a teaching position open here (Acalanes) if you would like it. I told them that I would come over if I could bring my daughter who was going to be a freshman in high school. My older went to Bishop O’Dowd and I was paying $10,000 a year for tuition. My older daughter was going to be a junior and she so didn’t want to leave O’Dowd but my freshman daughter came into Acalanes when I got the job.
CH: So that first year at Acalanes, I helped out Steve Coccimiglio over at DVC. I helped him out for two years. Then, my scheduled changed at Acalanes where I was teaching 7th period. So, I couldn’t get over to DVC early enough. So, I decided to help out with the girls (Acalanes basketball) for two years. I was an assistant my first one year and the Head Coach the next season.
RM: I see Coach Scheibley’s names on a couple of banners. Was he a teacher here?
CH: No. He had his own business focused on grading and paving. He was able to work his schedule out to get to both games and practices.
RM: Who was the Head Coach at that time (for Varsity Girls Basketball)?
CH: Christy….what was her last name? I cannot remember her last name. She was a former player at Santa Barbara. She was only here for one year. She was a math teacher. So I took the Head Coaching position for one year (for Varsity Girls Basketball) and then Russ (Scheibley) asked me if I wanted to be an assistant for him and I said sure.
RM: Did you have a good coaching experience with the girls?
CH: Yes. It was good. We had Paul Curtis’s daughters playing. Katie Curtis was a fantastic player, hard player. She could compete with the guys. Then I moved to the guys and coached JVs for two years. My son was a freshman and sophomore. That was a lot of fun.
RM: They (the administration) did not frown upon you coaching your son?
CH: No. I helped Russ out for a couple of years and then he got fired or quit, whatever it was and then they brought Darrell Hirashima in. I helped Darrell out by coaching JVs for two years, where I coached my son. Then he (my son) moved to varsity, so I helped out Darrell for two more years on varsity when my son was on the varsity team his junior and senior years. I helped Darrell for one more year and then he was gone and Bill (Powers) came in.
RM: So you got a chance to coach your son at the high school level?
CH: Yes. That was a lot of fun. It was great.
RM: If I asked him, would he say the same thing?
CH: I think he would say it now. At the time I don’t think he cared for it too much.
RM: Was he worried that his teammates might think he was getting favoritism? Or, were you like me… always tough on my kid (the coach’s kid) so it did not look like he was getting favored?
CH: I think I was tougher on him and I think I showed a little more favoritism towards the other players than him.
RM: You did not want him to think he was getting an easy ride?
CH: Yes. He was a good player. He had his best game, 34 points against Deer Valley, when Marcus Lee was playing for Deer Valley. He was seven for ten from the three point line. He shot the ball pretty well.
RM: Did he learn that from his old man? Did he learn that form and finish from you?
CH: He learned the shooting form early. Andrew (McKendell) shoots the ball well and he learned from you – good rotation; on the seams; elbow in. You teach those fundamentals to them when they are young and it helps them in later years.
RM: You can tell, as a coach, when you are looking at players, who has been taught properly. You can watch a kid and say that kid is a shooter. He’s got the form. He’s got the release. You know he is a shooter. You have some other kids that have weird form and shots but work hard to try and make it successful. But I think when you have a weird shot more things tend to go wrong when shooting the ball.
CH: If you have a weird shot, you really have not been taught the proper way to shoot the ball – on the seams, fingers out, a space here, break through the wrist, elbow in, all that stuff. I am really big on the fundamentals, foot work is so important.
RM: It is.
CH: Kids ask what I am mainly concerned with and it is footwork. Footwork is so important to development; for economy in your shot or making it more smooth and even in defense footwork is important.
RM: I agree. I talked with a several high school coaches when I was putting together my basketball program and I asked them what was the biggest deficiency that a lot of players have when they get to the varsity level and number of said the most glaring is footwork.
CH: There is a lot of teaching on footwork that needs to be done
RM: What has been the best part of your thirteen years at Acalanes?
CH: The kids are great. They have been great. They work hard. They are not disrespectful. It is such a pleasure to be around them and I think that is a tribute to the parents. The parents here are probably influential in their lives and they teach them respect at home and that carries over to school. It is just a pleasure. I love shaking a guy’s hand and enjoying the one-on-one conversation that we have. It’s great. They are mature. I love them. They are great kids.
RM: Let me ask you this. I am one of these guys. What advice do you have for aspiring coaches?
CH: Put in the time. Study the game. The results will come if you believe in what you are teaching. I think a lot of time things depend on wins and losses – if I am winning I must be doing something right; if I am losing I must be doing something wrong. I don’t think it is that way. You teach correctly and the winning will come as long as they do things correctly. That would be my advice.
RM: So continue teaching the fundamentals?
CH: The fundamentals and the things you believe in. Because you lose a game, don’t start questioning what you do. Believe in what you are doing, continue to teach it and teach it better. And study the game.
RM: What are a couple of your favorite or memorable moments from your years at Acalanes?
CH: A JV game when my son was playing. We were down to Alhambra by twenty at half. I think it was twenty-two at half and they were shooting the ball extremely well and we were shooting the ball very poorly and we came back and won the game by twenty.
RM: Wow. That was quite a swing. Someone got hot and some got cold I guess.
CH: We came out in the second half and stuck to what we believed in and were teaching, certain offensive skills and defensively we picked it up and we played so well.
CH: The other was the success we had with the 2006-2007 team. It was a fun year. Great athletes. I think a lot of time you don’t need great basketball players. But you do need pretty good athletes. That team, Brooks Baker was a football player, good athlete. Hunter Hewitt, football, basketball player. Jordan Fillmore who was strictly a basketball player but was a very good basketball player. Joey Anderson. The team was made up of a lot of good athletes. So they didn’t necessarily need to be great basketball players, just good athletes. This team here (2014-2015 team) we have, there are some good athletes on this team. We’re struggling but it’s amazing to see how guys will work and the competitive drive they have in them. There are some good kids on this team. We are getting closer to winning some games against some pretty good teams where we just have to continue to push and improve.
RM: Tell us one thing that the Acalanes community does not know about you.
CH: Probably that my mom and dad were both teachers at Fort Bragg. My mom was a teacher at the high school level. She taught Spanish and Italian and humanities. She is one of the brightest people I know. She has great memory, great recall. She had a tremendous influence on me as far as travel. She took me with her on all kinds of trips throughout the world. I’ve been to so many different places in the world and it is all because of her. My dad was a hard worker. He always had two or three jobs. He was a great influence on me as far as character.
RM: Now was he a teacher at…?
CH: Junior High.
RM: What Junior High?
CH: Fort Bragg. He was the Athletic Director there. He was Dean of Boys, taught English, taught history. He was an athlete, went to NYU. Both of my parents went to NYU. They were New York grown, and then moved out here, west. My dad was a DJ. Started his own radio station, started a business and was a teacher all at the same time. He was quite a guy.
RM: People have given us some Huber-isms, what are some that we have missed?
CH: Throw the ball to the outside hand with the outside hand; I like this one – you can’t change history, you can only create it. So after a good loss or good win, it’s over. You can’t change history, especially after a loss. You can only create it, so let’s get better tomorrow and create history tomorrow.
CH: Another one – play the game the referees will call. So if you can push and shove, you can push and shove.
CH: I am big on both left and right hands. If I am going left, I am throwing left. If I am going right, I am throwing right.
RM: So, thank you for teaching Andrew that. It makes a huge difference. He can make a bullet pass left-handed and a bullet pass right-handed.
CH: I think we (Andrew and I) went through over 300 left-handed passes one time (last year).
RM: What do you think about this tournament being held in your honor?
CH: Bill Powers put that together and I don’t like to create a lot of attention for myself. I think it is more about the team and school. It is nice that he did this. I appreciate it but it is not necessary.
RM: Is it true that the winning team is going to get a trophy in your likeness?
CH: I hope not.
CH: It has been fun here. One of the other things I like to say, I teach PE and I say this in jest – they pay me to play. I open the gym at lunch time and they (students) are playing basketball. In January, we will start playing table tennis and I will play with them. Play badminton in the spring. I get involved with my PE classes and I play with them and I think they enjoy that and I know I definitely enjoy it.
RM: There is no shortage of hugs that you are given by past players and students.
CH: I can’t tell you how many kids I have not enjoyed. I can’t tell you. There are very few. I have really enjoyed the kids here. It is a pleasure.
CH: You have not asked me when I am going to retire.
RM: Well I don’t want to put that idea in your head, coach. You look like you have another twenty years in you.
CH: Well I hope so. I would love to stay here twenty more years. It’s a great place. I love it.
RM: It does not sound like retirement is in your mind.
CH: No, it is not.
RM Good and you’re going to be coaching basketball the entire time?
CH: I hope so.
RM: As I have said before, you have been the one constant (in the boys basketball program). Whether it has been a coach for six years, or one year or three years or whatever, you have always been there for the players. I think that is why they love you the way they do.
CH: It has been fun. It really has. If you were in my position, you would love the years that I have had to. I know you would. Because you are a basketball junkie, you’re an athlete and you would love it.
RM: And with that coach, thank you very much. It has been my pleasure (as I give him a big hug). I am really looking forward to the 1st Annual Chris Huber Basketball Tournament. It should be a lot of fun.
CH: It should be.
I could have spent five more hours talking with Coach Huber about basketball and life. He is so easy to converse with and he is as kind a man as I have been around. It is so easy to see why his players – past and present, his students – past and present and the Acalanes community love him. If you do not know him, you should go and introduce yourself to him. That is what I did at an Acalanes Varsity baseball game two years ago. He will appreciate it and you will find out first-hand what a gentleman Chris Huber is.
Please come and watch Coach Huber in action as the Acalanes Dons Basketball Team takes on the Broncos of Clovis North in 3rd/4th Place game of the 1st Annual Chris Huber Basketball Tournament this afternoon at 4:00pm at Acalanes.
Seniors / Child /Students: $3.00
Acalanes Students: FREE
There will also be a full concession center for fans to enjoy.
As Always…Go Dons!!!
Robert McKendell / Boosters President