Modesto Christian boys basketball coach is longtime friend of Bishop O’Dowd coach; teams will meet tonight in NorCal tourney game

jcortez@modbee.comMarch 17, 2014 

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ED CRISOSTOMO/ Modesto Christian High's coach Richard Midgley pushes the action against Bishop O'Dowd High during the Open Division play-off match at Chabot College's gym on Friday evening (03-08-13) in Hayward CA.

ED CRISOSTOMO — The Modesto Bee

High school basketball coaches tend to guard their game film as if it’s a matter of national security. If game film is scarce, the theory goes, a team can’t have its tendencies studied by the opposition.

So, as Modesto Christian’s boys basketball team prepares for its Northern California Open Division semifinal against Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) at Laney College – one of three NorCal semis featuring Stanislaus District teams tonight – how did the Crusaders manage to get film of the Dragons?

Simple. From O’Dowd coach Lou Richie.

“He had given me a film earlier this year and I had to promise him that I’d give him a film of us, if he ever needed it,” said Richie, a former All-ACC honorable mention at Clemson now in his second season as Bishop O’Dowd’s head coach.

Hey, a promise is a promise.

“My team didn’t exactly see it like that,” Richie quipped.

In reality, the fifth-seeded Crusaders (24-8) should’ve been able to use their own film to scout the top-seeded Dragons, who beat MC 70-52 on Feb. 8 in Oakland. But Crusaders co-coach Richard Midgley didn’t bother filming that game.

“I knew we’d be able to get a copy later,” said Midgley, whose team meets O’Dowd twice in a season for the second consecutive year. In 2013, the Crusaders fell to the Dragons in the regular season, but beat them in the NorCal tourney. “His assistant coaches weren’t too happy about it, but I’ve given him film in the past. We help each other out.”

The coaches are close friends who met when Midgley, the 2002 Modesto Christian grad, played at Cal.

Richie, a Bishop O’Dowd graduate who hit what appeared to be the game-winning shot at the buzzer of the ’88 state title game against Manual Arts (LA), only to have it waved off when a teammate interfered with the ball in the cylinder, got into coaching after his broadband wireless company folded – “I was about 14 years ahead of my time,” said Richie, who explained that there wasn’t the demand for broadband wireless at the turn of the century that there is today.

He was running summer camps in Berkeley, with the aid of some Cal players, and asked Midgley if he’d like to join in the workouts.

Midgley did, and a friendship was forged.

“He was real generous with his time and I could tell he just wanted to help people,” said Midgley. “I worked out with him every day for a whole summer and he never charged me a thing. He just wanted to help kids. How I looked up to him is how I want kids to look at me.

“I think he’s the best coach in Northern California.”

Maybe he is, but it’s sure a lot easier to coach when you have somebody like Ivan Rabb on your roster.

Rabb, a 6-10, 210-pound center, is considered by many recruiting outlets as one of the best prep players in the nation.

“He’s special in that, defensively, he impacts the game so much,” Midgley said of the junior, who had 19 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks against MC five weeks ago. “And he has excellent footwork and post moves; you have to really factor your whole defense around him to try to slow him down.”

Midgley isn’t the only basketball coach on campus who has a special relationship with his counterpart. Girls coach Robb Spencer is close friends with Vanden’s husband-and-wife coaching tandem of Allison and Jake Johnson.

“They’re like family to me,” said Spencer. “They’re great people and I respect them like crazy. They try to do the same things that I try to do.

“It’s going to be a great game.”

Sixth-seeded Vanden (25-6) defeated No. 2 Modesto Christian (24-8) in last year’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 semifinal game, and this is the team that MC players were hoping to face.

“Yeah, definitely,” said the Crusaders’ Lexi Tubbs after Saturday’s 62-42 win over Soquel.

Tonight’s third semifinal features No. 1 Central Catholic (26-6) playing host to No. 4 Branson (26-6) of Ross.

“The most secure feeling is that we’re home,” said Central Catholic coach Mike Wilson, whose team avenged last year’s NorCal loss to University (SF) with a 74-56 win over the Red Devils on Saturday. “And that’s the only part that we’re secure about. They’re a very disciplined team, very fundamental, and they’ll make you pay for mistakes.”

Tipoff for all three games is 7 p.m.

Bee staff writer Joe Cortez can be reached at or (209) 578-2380. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeePreps.

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