CHRIS DE LUCA
Ricardo Sandoval began the season as a manager for Sweetwater High School basketball team, picking up towels and keeping track of uniforms.
Two weeks ago, Sandoval came off the bench in the second period to lead Sweetwater with 22 points and 9 rebounds in a 70-61, overtime victory over Hilltop.
Sandoval, who led the junior-varsity team last season averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds a game as a junior, was cut from the varsity team at the beginning of the season. However, Sweetwater Coach David Ybarra kept him as a team manager.
As the season progressed, several players either quit the team or were removed for disciplinary reasons, opening a spot for Sandoval, Ybarra said. When Sweetwater traveled to Canada for a tournament earlier this season, Ybarra told Sandoval to be prepared to play.
"He's proven that he can play. . . . He proved me wrong in that I cut him," Ybarra said. "In the Hilltop game, he came off the bench and really got us back into the game."
Said Sandoval: "I got my chance to show what I can do. I picked up a lot of things (as manager), watching the other players and seeing their mistakes."
Sandoval is now a full-time player, leaving the managing duties to his former partner, Virgil Tinkle.
A Change of Scenery: Brian Daley returned to California with the intention of being the assistant basketball coach at USC, a college team looking for help.
Instead, he became the head coach of San Dieguito, an inexperienced, last-place high school team looking for help.
Guess which team has vastly improved?
San Dieguito, which was expected to finish at the bottom of the Palomar League, is tied for second place. USC is one of the Pacific 10's worst teams.
Last season, Daly, 30, was an assistant to George Raveling, Iowa's coach. When Raveling accepted the coaching job at USC, Daly planned to work as an assistant. But soon after Daly arrived in Southern California, he was offered the San Dieguito job.
"Everybody looks at the college level as the top of the ladder," Daly said. "But coming to San Dieguito, I think, is really a move up for my particular career interest because I like the interaction with the student athletes. I like the teaching (history) and coaching combination."
San Dieguito finished last in the Palomar League last season. After losing 11 seniors, including the starting five, this season didn't hold many promises.
But San Dieguito got off to a 4-0 start in league, including a 45-44 upset of first-place Torrey Pines two weeks ago.
San Dieguito's first league defeat came Friday night against Mount Carmel, 43-35. San Dieguito and Mount Carmel are tied for second in the league with 4-1 records.
"This is the finest group of young men I've been associated with," Daly said. "Sometimes, as human beings, we have a tendency to believe what we are told. These kids didn't do that. To their credit, they felt they were better than what they were predicted to be."
This is not the first time Daly has coached an inexperienced team. In 1982, he took over a young team at Loara High School at Anaheim. Loara, 12-12 that season, was one of the most improved teams in Orange County.
At the end of that season, Raveling, who coached Daly at Washington State in the late 1970s, asked Daly to be his assistant at Iowa.
"George Raveling was probably the only person who could have gotten me out of Loara," Daly said.
Daly's duties at Iowa including recruiting and scouting. He also worked as a defensive coordinator. He said some of the techniques he stressed at Iowa also work for San Dieguito.
"In a lot of ways, the fundamentals are much the same," said Daly, who also was a student assistant with Smokey Gaines, San Diego State coach. "I break down the fundamentals in every aspect of the game, and I think that is a strength of mine.
"In terms of what we are running compared to what Iowa is running (defensively), we're probably not as close. I think one of the number one things a coach must do is adapt the program to the type of personnel he has. We don't have the same type of personnel that Iowa does."