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Oakdale Hoop Program Sweating Through Summer
Mustang standout Jake Martinez will need to provide instant contributions if Oakdale High plans on making lengthy strides during the 2009-2010 Valley Oak League season. - photo by DALE BUTLER/THE LEADER
When you think of the basketball season thoughts often drift to holiday tournaments and early spring postseason action, but the real growth and maturity comes when teams take to the hardwood during the ridiculously hot summer months.
The Oakdale High basketball program is trying to take steps in the right direction as the squad embarks on a grueling 30-plus game summer schedule, complete with top-notch competition from all over the northern California scene.
“We’ve played games at Fresno City (College) against all the Fresno schools,” Oakdale head varsity coach Jeremy Fields said. “We’ve played in Sacramento against some of the D-I Sacramento schools, so we’ve had a lot of tough competition already early on this summer.”
Fields’ squad has grown tremendously since he took over the program just a few seasons ago. This summer marks his second tour of duty during the summer months, forming an itinerary that will lead the Mustangs into the thick of the Valley Oak League competition.
Oakdale met up with a VOL foe during the Modesto Junior College Summer League action, beating the Central Valley Hawks 56-40 in recent action. The summertime experience should help the squad once VOL play comes around in the beginning of the new year.
“In the summer we are just looking to get some valuable game experience,” Fields said. “I know how much it will help us, so I’m just looking for improvements every day on a lot of different levels.”
The Mustangs have gotten a solid response to the voluntary summer workouts, giving Oakdale an opportunity to improve on the last two seasons of VOL basketball at the varsity level.
“In terms of the turnout,” Fields said, “this incoming junior class I have had about seven guys who have consistently shown up to every open gym and game that we have had. Most of my seniors are three sport guys like (Nate) Madsen and (Tanner) Combs and Robert Stout has shown up a lot.
“I’m pretty happy with our turnout. It could be better, but I’m happy.”
The Mustangs closed out the 2009 regular season winning two of their final four games, adding a championship junior varsity club to the mix will automatically elevate the team’s VOL expectations, but the transition is not something the team will be able to wish into effect.
“I go by the mantra that players are made during the summer, teams are made during the season,” Fields said. “While we use the summer to play a lot of games, players are developing individually. New players are getting acclimated to the varsity level, while returnees are working on new aspects of their games.
“It’s about developing as an individual in a team system.”
With the work the Mustangs are putting out now, coupled with a boost in talent, making an improvement in the 2009-2010 VOL campaign seemingly will not be too tough a task for Fields and his squad.