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Hueneme Has Righted Itself in Channel League

McCollum Seems to Have Vikings on Course in His Second Season as Coach

January 16, 1998|JOHN ORTEGA

Hueneme High, 5-9 overall and 1-4 in the Channel League, might seem to be headed for another long boys' basketball season.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Vikings are on the rise in their second season under former Cal State Northridge assistant coach Tom McCollum, 49.

Hueneme was blown out in most of its 13 league losses last season but hasn't been beaten by more than 12 points in league play this season and lost to league-leading Dos Pueblos, 64-63, last Friday.

They followed that with a 67-61 victory Monday over Ventura before a 63-61 loss Wednesday at Santa Barbara.

"Our intensity on the floor is the biggest difference," senior guard Matt Ramirez said. "We have so much more of it."

Junior forward Robert Luna concurred.

"The ability to play hard as a team is the difference," he said. "Last year, we sort of knew that it was going to be a long season, but this year we feel like we've got a chance to win some games."

Not bad for a team that has only two players taller than 6 feet 2 and was 1-27 in Channel League play over the previous two seasons.

"I knew it was going to be a ground-level beginning," said McCollum, Pete Cassidy's top assistant at Northridge from 1990-96. "But that's not such a bad place to start. I was the fifth coach in five years so there were no ghosts nor any hurdles that I had to encounter."

McCollum's first goal was to establish an identity for his team. That involved laying down some stringent guidelines for players to follow in the classroom and on the court.

His second goal was to get the team to play hard together so they could be competitive and put themselves in a position to win games in the fourth quarter.

The victories have yet to come on a regular basis but McCollum is as enthusiastic as ever in his 31st season of coaching.

The program's expansion continues as McCollum and several volunteers built a varsity basketball team room and made plans to add a training room and a coaches' office.

On top of that, approximately 80 players tried out for the four Hueneme basketball teams this season, so McCollum created a fifth team that plays in a local youth league.

"I didn't have any three-, four- or five-year plan when I came in here," McCollum said. "I plan on my program growing incessantly. . . .

"When people asked, I told them that I was going to go as hard as I could and get as much done as I could in the first year. I'm doing the same thing this year and I plan to do the same thing every year."

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