It has been a nightmarish season for Victor Valley College basketball coach Tom Dudgeon.
The veteran coach thought he had the nucleus of a decent team. Unfortunately things went South long before the Rams played their first game. He had to run off a few undesirables. Give him credit for that rather than let them stay and have to possibly end up with worse issues.
But one by one other players left mysteriously. He got to the root of the problem but by the time he did it was only days before the first game and he didn’t have enough players to fill out a roster.
Well a dozen or so football players came to the rescue and said they would play so the school could field a team. A couple of games had to be rescheduled but a season was saved. Football players ended their season on Saturday, came to practice on Monday for a couple hours and were playing their first game on Tuesday. Many had not played before.
It would be one thing if Dudgeon had the players starting in October but that wasn’t the case. So the Rams have been managing on the fly. The results have been predictable. The Rams are 0-16, 0-7 in the Foothill Conference.
But Dudgeon praises his players, their work ethic, their attitudes and their demeanor. One can only imagine how miserable the situation would be if he had knuckleheads.
I took in Saturday’s game at Chaffey, just because I wanted to see how the players handled themselves. If you’re an athlete, you’re competitive, you want to win. It’s frustrating when you’re getting blown out every game.
It was 51-19 at the half. Yet there was no complaining, no players griping with each other. Dudgeon and assistants Warren Ellis and Brandon Henderson, coached their players up until the last second ticked off the clock.
The Panthers could have scored more but didn’t run it up. Class move on their part.
Final score – Chaffey 97, Victor Valley 59.
The Rams actually did some good things. But these are good athletes from another sport trying to tackle a new one. They were running an offense and looked like they had an idea what to do. It wasn’t a playground free-for-all.
To put it in perspective, I covered a game the previous night – Cal Poly Pomona at CS Dominguez Hills. Dominguez only had 13 in the first half and went 14 minutes without a field goal in one stretch. So it happens to even the best of teams.
Dudgeon says he wants to stay and coach at the school. Let’s hope the powers that be give him that chance. This team’s problems were not his doing and sometimes you learn more about a coach and his players in situations like this than when they’re actually winning.