For 15 seconds after a Richmond Oilers basketball win, there’s no happier place in the world than in the boys’ locker room. That’s when head coach Rob Collins shows his players the Saturday Night Fever dance moves.
And on Wednesday night it happened again. After thumping the De Anza Dons by 28 points, Coach Collins did his best John Travolta impersonation. Players went nuts and jockeyed for position to see their head coach lose himself in disco bliss.
Before the game Dons’ head coach Mark DeLuca jokingly said he wasn’t sure if Richmond was any good, but that he’d once beaten Collins in an Usher lookalike dance contest. “So I think [tonight] we have the advantage just because of that,” he said with a big smile.
DeLuca shares a home with Collins. And according to Collins when the two coaches are under the same roof, they just kick it and have good chats. “I’ve never had a brother or sister, so he’s probably the greatest person I’ve ever met in my life,” Collins said of DeLuca. “He’s never ever left my back. He’s a great person, a great father, a great educator, and a good man. And I love him dearly.”
Friendship, and/or dance moves aside, Richmond took control of this game from the get-go. With a little more than two minutes left in the first quarter, the Oilers built a 17-3 lead.
“Way to play hard!” Collins shouted at his players as they executed stingy man-to-man defense right in front of his eyes. The Dons only scored one bucket in the first quarter, and only two more in the second quarter. De Anza kept the game respectable by going 11 for 23 at the free throw line.
With a comfortable 33-17 halftime lead, Collins stressed to his players the importance of not having a mental letdown. “Whoever comes out the hardest [in the second half] is going to win this game,” he told his players as they reflected on the first half. “I’m banking on us. I’m not banking on them.”
The senior-laden Oilers team came out of the locker room and didn’t disappoint. They took it to the Dons and pounded the glass for second-chance points. Devonte Anderson led all scorers with 21 points.
De Anza point guard Isiah Thomas did his best to keep the game close by using his speed to get to the free-throw line. He shot 7-10 from the charity stripe, and finished the game with 13 points.
The win was Richmond’s third in a row, and with five games remaining in the regular season, moves them two back from league-leader Hercules.
After the game Oilers coach Collins said it was wasn’t easy beating his De Anza friend on the sideline. “I hate beating him like he hates beating me,” he said as the fever-pitched locker room celebration quieted down. “It’s tough when it’s like that. But it’s fun!”
Richmond’s next game is Friday at John Swett High School. Tip off is at 7 p.m.