David Greenwood's plan for returning Verbum Dei to glory appears to be ahead of schedule.
Greenwood, a Southern Section player of the year at Verbum Dei in 1975 who starred at UCLA and played in the NBA, guided the Eagles to the state Division IV basketball championship last weekend at Arco Arena in Sacramento.
Not bad for a first-year coach.
"The discipline Coach Greenwood brought us really helped," junior point guard Marlon Parmer said. "Last year, a lot of people weren't very disciplined. They missed practices and it affected the way we played. This year, every time we were lagging in practice, he'd talk about the past. He'd say, 'When we were playing. . . .' That helps. We know the tradition and we want to be the best."
Felicia Simon also won a state title in her first year as coach--and did it in the final trimester of her pregnancy--guiding St. Bernard to the Division IV girls' championship.
In all, Southern region teams won eight of 10 championship games, including all five boys' titles.
Westchester (Division I), Santa Margarita (II), San Diego University (III), Verbum Dei (IV) and Pacific Hills (V) won boys' championships and Narbonne (I), Brea Olinda (II) and St. Bernard (IV) won girls' titles.
Westchester's victory gave Southern region teams 15 victories in 18 Division I boys' championship games. Narbonne's victory gave the Southern region 13 victories in 18 Division I girls' championship games. Like the Narbonne girls, who will have all but one player back next season, Verbum Dei's boys are a favorite to return to the state finals. Parmer and 6-9 center Dalron Johnson are two of the main reasons, Greenwood another.
He proved he was more than a just a big name in the championship game against Pacific Grove. The Eagles were leading, 53-50, with 23 seconds left when Greenwood switched his team from man-to-man to zone defense for one possession. The subtle move surprised Pacific Grove and point guard Eddie Banaszek shot an airball as a result.
"In the last few years, a lot of kids that would have come to Verbum Dei in the past have gone to other schools out of the area. It's kind of pleasing that since I've been back, we've been getting calls from parents. "I say, 'Your son is 6-foot-what? Yes, he can come here.' "