2002-12-26 / Sports
Westlake boys off to fast start with new varsity hoops’ coach
By Wayne Harrison Acorn Staff Writer
The Westlake boys’ basketball team has a new head coach in Tom Donahue, who previously coached at Santa Paula for 12 years after having coached in Pennsylvania where Donahue has a junior college championship to his credit.
"I saw the opening here and I decided to apply for a new challenge, an interesting new opportunity," Donahue said.
The Warriors were already 5-0 on the young season when this interview took place. The team had played well over the summer, so the great early start wasn’t a total surprise to the new coach.
"The team played well, we had a nice summer," Donahue said. "Defensively, offensively, we’re doing a good job."
Five varsity players came out late for basketball because the football season went so long. Jimmy Miller, Michael Stuart, Martin Reynoso and Danny Tromello, all juniors, and senior Rob Daniels, all went to the Southern Section finals for Jim Benkert’s football team.
The new hoops coach likes seeing his players take part in other sports, though the trend is toward specializing these days.
"I encourage that," Donahue said of the multi-sport athletes. "I think they should play as many sports as possible and have a great high school experience."
The strengths of this season’s Warriors should be maturity, defense and shooting, he said. "We’re senior-dominated," Donahue said. "We play good defense and we have great shooters."
Expected to be key members of this year’s team and to provide leadership are Jonathan Wiley, a 6-foot-5 senior guard/forward; Ryan Burke, a 6-1 senior guard; Mike Verrillo, a 6-0 senior guard; Amir Mazarei, a 6-0 senior guard; P.J. Isaacson, a 6-3 senior guard/forward; and Matt Schneider, a 6-3 junior forward.
Donahue expects the Marmonte League to be tough this season after Thousand Oaks dominated the past two seasons. The new coach said with hard work and teamwork the Warriors should contend.
"League is traditionally very difficult and it should be again this season," he said. "Moorpark, Simi Valley, they’re all good. We’re playing hard, that’s been the key so far. That’s the most important thing I try to teach—play hard and be unselfish."
How does Donahue expect to do this year?
"I always expect to do well," he said. "Wherever I go—I’ve been to four or five different high schools—and I always expect to do well."