Brian Jones has never been afraid of hard work.
Jones, 30, has spent the last two years splitting his time as an assistant basketball coach at UC Merced and El Capitan High School.
“He’s been bouncing around from practice to practice,” said El Capitan boys coach Adrian Hurtado. “He’d leave the UC at around 5 or 6 and then come over to our place and spend a couple hours in the gym. It shows he’s willing to go the extra mile and his relationships with the kids.”
Jones is taking on an even bigger challenge this season.
Jones is taking over as the Stone Ridge Christian boys basketball head coach. He’s taking over a program that hasn’t won a game since Dec. 30, 2014. After going 0-20 this past season, the Knights extended their losing streak to a state record 96 consecutive games. According to CalHiSports’ Mark Tennis, the previous record was 81 straight losses by Fort Jones in the Northern Section from 1973-75.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge,” Jones said.
Jones has spent two years working as an assistant for UC Merced men’s basketball coach Kevin Pham. He’s also been a coach in the Gauchos program the past five years.
“I think he’s determined, he knows basketball and he’s very dedicated,” Hurtado said. “Those three aspects will help him at Stone Ridge Christian.”
Jones will still divide his time this upcoming season with UC Merced and Stone Ridge Christian. Jones says there’s not much conflict between the two schedules with most of his coaching duties at SRC taking place at night.
“I value the time at El Cap,” Jones said. “It was tough to step down from that family atmosphere.”
Jones wants to create that same type of atmosphere. He says he’s been welcomed with open arms by some of the families and players he’s met.
“We’re bringing in the right guy,” said Stone Ridge Christian athletic director Joe Darretta. “We think Brian is the right guy to get us to the next level. We’re going to rely on his basketball knowledge, expertise and his vision.”
Jones says he wants to bring some the of the defensive schemes from UC Merced that made the Bobcats one of the top defensive teams in the country. He also wants to blend in some of the offensive concepts from El Capitan.
“We’ll start small and build a culture,” Jones said. “Hopefully we’ll win a few games that first year. If we can win seven or eight games, I think we can erase some of the stigma of the past four or five years. at Stone Ridge Christian.”
Stone Ridge Christian is a small school that has won Sac-Joaquin Section championships in football, volleyball and softball. The boys volleyball team has qualified for the playoffs.
Darretta hopes this hire will build excitement for basketball at the school.
“We have good athletes, it just hasn’t translated to basketball wins,” Darretta said. “The kids are excited because the basketball program has been a frustration for them.”