In terms of wins and losses, Brian de la Porte is off to a rocky start with the Delhi High School boys basketball program.
The Hawks were 2-10 through 12 games, putting the middling Southern League school at risk of missing the Sac-Joaquin Section postseason for the eighth time in 12 years.
However, de la Porte has learned to measure success differently on a campus of 729 students. By his count, he has at least three victories of note since taking over for Eugene Drummond.
Patterson is in the past. Delhi is my present and future.
Brian de la Porte, first-year Delhi boys basketball coach
Aside from wins over Turlock Christian and Le Grand, de la Porte counts a seventh-grade victory in October, a triumph he said illustrates the bright future. De la Porte is building success from the ground up, implementing the same terminology and fundamentals he demands of his high school players at the middle-school level.
“We won’t see it for a few years, but hopefully before their freshman year they will have been in our system for two years,” de la Porte said. “That can only be beneficial to our progam. We’re trying to build. It’s going to take time and hard work, and hopefully we’ll get there.”
Part of the maturation process has been providing his players with new experiences. De la Porte wants to expose them to stiffer competition, including the Stanislaus District’s Goliaths.
Delhi will get a taste of that Saturday against Modesto in the Modesto Christian MLK Showcase, a slate of eight games, boys and girls.
The Modesto Christian girls will headline the event with a 3 p.m. tip against Venture Academy, but the de la Porte factor will be hard to ignore. He has ties to two schools on the schedule, including the Patterson boys, who take on Enterprise at 4:30 p.m.
De la Porte coached Patterson to back-to-back Division III playoff berths before leaving the Westside for Delhi. He was 41-25 in those two seasons and 17-7 in the Western Athletic Conference. He insists there will be no emotions Saturday. With nearly eight hours between tipoffs, de la Porte may not even be present for the Tigers’ game.
41-25 Brian de la Porte’s overall record in two seasons at Patterson High
“We’re trying to develop our own culture,” de la Porte said. “There are some good kids over there. It was a good two years coaching those kids. There’s talent there; there’s always been talent over there.”
“Patterson is in the past,” he added. “Delhi is my present and future.”
While the future is packed with potential, the Hawks’ present is uncertain. Delhi began Southern League play with a 48-46 victory at Le Grand.
The Hawks have been to the postseason two of the last three years but haven’t won a playoff game (0-4) since MaxPreps began tracking such things in 2004.
“Honestly, we’re right where we want to be – 1-0 in league,” de la Porte said Tuesday afternoon ahead of a road game at Waterford that night. “I knew it would take some time, but we’re playing our best basketball of the year.
“Every coach puts their fingerprints on their program, and I think we’re definitely doing things different than how we’ve done in the past. As far as our expectation and mentality, we’re trying to instill in them the hard-work part of it. Nothing comes easy; no one gives you everything. Our kids have worked hard all year, and now it’s starting to show.”
Saturday’s MLK Showcase will be another litmus test. Modesto is a school of nearly 2,400 students. The Panthers are 5-10 overall and 0-3 in Modesto Metro Conference play under coach Pete Peterson.
Delhi is 0-7 against larger schools: Pitman (2,141 students), Atwater (1,776), Ceres (1,693), Central Valley (1,684), Calaveras (1,063), Venture Academy (942) and Mountain House (829).
The Delhi boys basketball program has missed the playoffs seven of the last 11 years and hasn’t won a postseason game during that stretch of futility.
“It’s good for us to go against bigger schools and challenge ourselves,” de la Porte said. “When you go to these events, you see different teams and play against schools bigger than you. It will be a good competition.”
De la Porte jumped at the chance to return to the MLK Showcase with his new program. With a field of perennial playoff teams and section contenders, this is the company he hopes to keep with the still-learning-to-fly Hawks.
“Last year, I took Patterson and it was a good experience,” de la Porte said. “This is our chance to build upon our team; to get those six, seven and eight guys a lot of playing time. It’s a good experience for that.”
Modesto Christian MLK Showcase
Saturday at Modesto Christian High School
Delhi vs. Modesto, 9 a.m.
Patterson vs. Enterprise, 4:30 p.m.
Johansen vs. Venture Academy, 6 p.m.
Tracy vs. Mt. Eden, 10:30 a.m.
Golden Valley vs. Heritage, noon
Weston Ranch vs. Elk Grove, 1:30 p.m.
Modesto Christian vs. Venture Academy, 3 p.m.
Merced vs. Bradshaw Christian, 7:30 p.m.