One of state's top boys bb coaches moving on

Clovis West's Walberg will become new head coach at Fresno City College, following path of current BYU men's head coach Steve Cleveland

There were rumors in the Fresno area at the end of the last basketball season that Fresno State's Jerry Tarkanian might not be the only local coach on the move.

That became reality last week when Clovis West High's Vance Walberg, arguably one of the state's three most successful boys coaches over the last decade, was introduced as the new head coach at Fresno City College.

Walberg, 46, replaces Mark Mendez, who resigned after just one season at FCC. He's following the same path as former FCC coach Steve Cleveland, who went from Clovis West to FCC and is now the head coach at BYU. In Cleveland's case, though, he was an assistant for one year while Walberg will be going directly to the top job.

"The positive is that I'm from the area and the players will like our style of play," Walberg said. "This has been one of my goals. I clearly like challenges and this is going to be a challenge."

In 13 seasons at Clovis West, Walberg directed his teams to a record of 343-68. He came to the school after shorter stints at Newark Memorial, James Logan, Los Altos and Mountain View in the S.F. Bay Area. Walberg was a standout himself at Monta Vista High of Cupertino in the early 1970s, where he learned the game under legendary coach Ray Snyder. But the style Walberg has developed in recent years at Clovis West -- three-point shooting, fast breaks, full court press defense -- bears no resemblence to the way Snyder coached.

Clovis West frequently ran into some of the top teams in the nation in the CIF Southern Regional Div. I playoffs, so even though the Golden Eagles won six section titles under Walberg they only made it to the state finals once. That was in 2000 when they faced De La Salle of Concord and lost in the closing seconds, 47-46.

That season became tarnished later when it was discovered that Charlie Rodriguez, a player from the Dominican Republic who was believed to be a junior at the time, should have been ineligible. A highly publicized investigation followed and the Golden Eagles had to forfeit all the games Rodriguez played in. Walberg has denied ever knowing Rodriguez was too old.

Following that mess, Walberg put in two of his best years of coaching, directing squads that lacked the talent of most other top-ranked teams in the state but still capable of beating anyone on any given night. Last year's team finished 28-4, won the section title and advanced to the regional semifinals where it lost to eventual state champion Westchester of Los Angeles.

Over the last 10 years, Walberg's accomplishments as a boys coach in California are not comparable to Crenshaw's Willie West or Mater Dei's Gary McKnight but they are to just about anyone else.

Another positive for the move by Walberg is that he won't have to move and none of his children still in high school -- 15-year-old Jaimie-Rose and 14-year-old Ian -- would have to leave any of their friends. Walberg and his wife, Rose, have two other children -- Jason, 19, and Heather, 18.

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