Men's basketball season preview

Simpson University Sports News


REDDING, Calif. - The men’s basketball program has been a bit of a revolving door in the past five years. In that time the Red Hawks men’s team has had four different coaches. Simpson’s Athletic Director Joe Griffin was looking for something different in the next person who was to man the helm of the Red Hawks’ basketball team. Instead of a person with a litany of credentials in college basketball, he was looking for someone who knew how to win, regardless of the level. He was looking for a man that had strength of character, instead of a history of top level recruiting. He was looking for stability and strength instead of a glowing collegiate resume. Griffin was looking for Jon King.

 King, who begins his first head collegiate coaching post, is the former head coach of Redding Christian High School. At Redding Christian, King was a two-time section champion and won Northern Section Coach of the Year in 2006.

“He is going to bring stability to the program,” said Griffin. “He is a guy who knows the ministry that basketball will provide for his athletes and he is focused on keeping Christ at the center of that basketball team.”

Griffin was also able to hire Mark Vilas as the men’s assistant coach. Vilas’ wife Christy is Simpson’s women’s volleyball coach.

“Mark Vilas has been a real asset,” Griffin emphasized. “He is probably the best assistant coach Simpson has had in the basketball program.”

King and Vilas head up a Red Hawks team who won six games last year. Both coaches though have high hopes for this season.  

“I am really pleased with the character of this team,” King said of the 2009-2010 Red Hawks. “They play with an intensity that will hopefully make up for the fact that we aren’t very tall.”

King’s philosophy is that defense will lead to offense. Constant pressure on the ball is key for Simpson in the upcoming season.  

“If we can pressure other teams’ guards into making turnovers, we believe that we can use our team speed to score in transition,” said King. “We have a lot of quick athletes who can pressure the ball really well. That should compensate for the height factor.”

Returners Andrew Schritter, Dwight Bond, Josh Sidener, and Justin Sparks will be key this year for the Red Hawks.

Schritter and Bond make up a duo of hard-working posts. Bond is best recognized for his hard-nosed defense underneath the basket. He is known around the California Pacific Conference as one of the best post defenders despite his 6’2” frame. Schritter, an athletic 6’5” center, has the ability to combine his aptitude at attacking the rim with a soft three-point touch. This will come in handy in stretching the defense to open up driving lanes for the guards.

Sidener and Sparks will be manning the wings for Coach King. Sidener, a 5’11” guard from Orland, Calif., is the best shooter on the roster for Simpson. He combines this with quickness off the dribble and an ability to finish inventive and acrobatic shots around the basket. Sparks constitutes the other wing in the offense. Spark’s should contribute a decent percentage of the scoring for the Red Hawks.

“Justin is a very athletic scorer who can really play almost any position on the court,” said King.

New faces on the Red Hawks include Pat Magno, Jason Stubbs, Daniel Bartow, and Justin Chapel. Magno is a 5’7” defensive specialist. His blazing speed and efficiency running the offense makes him a welcome addition to the Red Hawks’ line-up. Stubbs is 6’2” swingman whose ability to get to the rim and finish could make him a preseason favorite to make the Cal Pac all-conference team. Bartow is a freshman local standout whose quickness and shooting ability make him an all-around threat on offense. Chapel is a 6’3” forward who can dribble, shoot, and pass. Chapel’s strength both offensively and defensively will provide solid contributions off the bench for King.

Contact: Derrick Pringle, Jr.
(530) 226-4731