Johnson earns coaching award

Men’s basketball coach recognized for BVC title


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Men’s basketball coach Miguel Johnson received Coach of the Year honors in the Bay Valley Conference after successfully leading the Comets to a conference title.

By Xavier Johnson, Assistant Sports Editor

The successful men’s basketball season culminated in a Bay Valley Conference championship and coach Miguel Johnson earning Coach of the Year honors.

Johnson led the Comets to an overall record of 25-8 and 11-1 in conference play. Included was a 12- game winning streak from Jan. 7 to Feb. 16. In conference play the team averaged 84.3 points per game and 38.8 rebounds per game. The Comets ranked third overall in the state in assists and second overall in steals.

“This is by far my best season here at Contra Costa. We had other seasons where we were good,” Johnson said.

Athletic Director John Wade said, “This is the first BVC title in Johnson’s nine years as coach.”

Johnson said a big part of the success of this season was the talented team he had. The Comets had two players, guard Bobby Syvanthong and forward Larry Wickett, earn All-State honors. Three players, Wickett, Syvanthong, and guard Anthony Sullen, achieved All-BVC honors. Center Deonte Smith and forward Jeremiah Alston earned honorable mention.

“You can be a great coach, but you really need to have talented players who can execute the game plan. We were fortunate to have good depth on this team,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he is a demanding coach who seeks to create a culture of toughness on his teams. Wickett said the team respects and trusts Johnson. He said they know he wants what’s best for them, and he’s great at getting players to play up to their best abilities.

Johnson said, “I think my record shows that I have the ability to get the most out of my players, regardless of talent level.”

As a community college coach, his teams often change from season to season so Johnson depends on sophomores to lead the team and foster a positive culture.

Johnson said he likes to create an environment that’s hard working, but fun.

“As a coach you have a vision and are steering the ship, but you don’t want to kill players’ creativity,” Johnson said. “You need to give structure and discipline. It’s something that needs to be balanced.”

The Comets landed in the postseason, making it to the Elite Eight in the state and Final Four in Northern California.

In the playoffs the Comets beat Cosumnes River College 86-77 and Feather River College 106-84. They fell to Fresno City College 100-89 to end their postseason run.

Johnson said the Fresno loss showed the guys how difficult it is to rise to the level of becoming state champions.

“The guys understood that to be great it starts from the first day of practice, and a strict work ethic needs to be maintained until the end,” Johnson said.

A turning point for the team came when players came to understanding the level of play needed to win a BVC title. That was during the Chabot College tournament near the end of the preseason in December.

The Comets defeated Sierra College, Chabot College, and Cosumnes River College to win the three-day tournament.

“Being able to go in there and win three games in a row was a moment we came together,” Johnson said, “(Chabot) beat us earlier in the preseason, so it was nice to beat them on their home court.”

Wickett said Johnson helped the team rise to a new level of skill, and the returning sophomores and incoming freshman will be able to continue the success found within this season.

“He’s the best coach I’ve had,” Wickett said.