With the hard-hitting loss of nine valuable senior players and a retiring award-winning coach, the Palo Alto High School varsity boys’ basketball team is bound for a tough season next year.
New head coach Rodney Tention looks to fill the void left by Peter Diepenbrock, who led the Vikings this year to become the first public school to win an Open Division CCS game.
“Replacing coach Diepenbrock and what he did over the last three years is going to be hard just because he had some very, very experienced players,” Tention said.
Before coming to Paly, Tention spent time as head coach at Loyola Marymount University and assistant coach at University of Arizona and University of San Diego. According to University of Arizona’s athletics page, under Tention’s guidance, the team won 159 out of 199 games, a near 80% win rate. At UA, Tention specialized in working with perimeter players helped with scouting opponents. According to Tention, some of his most memorable moments include coaching the national championship game for University of Arizona, as well as being the head coach of Loyola Marymount.
“Getting the opportunity to coach these guys — it’s going to be a really good moment for me,” Tention said. “I think just getting a chance to lead young people and having some kind of impact on their lives on and off the court, that’s something that’s really important.”
Tention is confident in the abilities of the players remaining at Paly. He believes that the team is highly skilled, and with time, will become a competitive threat in the league.
“They’re just lacking varsity level experience,” Tention said. “They’re going to get it, so one of my biggest goals is to make sure they understand they’re good enough.”
Tention also said that he hopes to build on the momentum created over the last few years and see the team play for the conference championship and the league championship.
“I want us to be fundamentally sound, I want them to work hard every time they get on the court, and then, most importantly, I want them to have some fun,” Tention said.
Some of Tention’s most influential mentors were Pat Fuscaldo, coach at Sonoma State, Lute Olson, coach at University of Arizona, and Bob Burton, coach at West Valley Community College.
“I’ve had some really good people that I’ve learned a lot of the game from,” Tention said. “I hope it translates in a positive way.”
According to Tention, he came to Paly because “I enjoy working with young people,” Tention said. “I think it’s a good place, and I think they want to win. And I’m looking forward to that.”
Additional reporting by Soumya Jhaveri.