Crespi Learns Gamesmanship

Dick Dornan, the Crespi High boys’ basketball coach, is attacking the summer with a simple plan to get his team in top form for next season: Play, play and play some more.

“There’s not much practicing,” Dornan said. “Just weights and games.”

In addition to the handful of tournaments Crespi has entered this summer, the Celts are playing in leagues on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Before the end of the Southern Section-imposed dead period in August, Dornan expects his team to play 45 games.


"[The schedule] is not made to burn them out,” Dornan said. “It’s to find out what they’re made of. I’m trying to play the best teams around and see how we match up.”

So far, not bad.

Nearly half way into its summer schedule, Crespi has impressive victories over Southern Section Division III-A champion Chaminade, Division IV-AA champion Santa Maria St. Joseph, Division I-A finalist Pacific and City 3-A champion Sylmar.

Although it’s only summer basketball, it’s quite an improvement for a team that finished 12-14 and was fourth in the Mission League last season.


“We spent last year getting our feet wet with them finding out what I expect of them,” said Dornan, who was 44-24 as a junior varsity coach before taking over the varsity last year.

“Now it’s taking what I’ve taught them and finding out how we measure up in the Southland.”

With six returning players--including starters Blake Tibbetts, Pat Casella, Tim McDonough and Marcin Jagoda--the Celts could be a contender for the first time since winning the Mission title in 1991-92.

Although Crespi lost tournament games this week to Clovis West, 47-36, and Canoga Park, 57-55, Dornan has been encouraged by his team’s chemistry and commitment this summer.


He feels the Celts are building toward something special.

“We expect to win every game,” he said. “We expect to win league next year, no question.”


As a seventh-grader, Dornan would bottle-feed his baby brother while cradling him in his arms.


Seventeen years later, Dornan is consciously treating his brother like just another guy.

Pat Dornan, 17, a 6-foot senior reserve point guard, is entering his third season playing for his big brother at Crespi.

“It’s a joy,” said Dick Dornan, 29. "[But] on the court, you wouldn’t even know he’s my brother because I treat him the same.

“The main reason I enjoy coaching him is because of my parents. I see my parents at every game, happy, enjoying life and seeing their two sons together in this special [time].”



All the recent media coverage devoted to Gilbert Arenas’ possible transfer to Sylmar High hasn’t dampened the sense of humor of Sylmar basketball Coach Bort Escoto.

Escoto has remained amused, aloof and sarcastic through it all.

“We’ve got a lot of returners,” Escoto said. “The league minimum [salary] only . . . that’s all we can offer [Arenas].”


“People say I’m controversial--I’m not. I’m entertaining.”