Nate Berger took over the Millikan boys’ basketball program in August and the early results have been extremely positive. The Rams started the season with three wins in four games without much varsity experience to speak of on the roster.
“Building trust and setting the tone with expectations of how we expect them to work, and all of the small stuff that is inherently in every program, took up the first month,” Berger said. “Putting in plays has been the last few weeks, and kind of secondary for us.”
Berger added that his best players were not on varsity last year, and his most talented athlete, Keyon “Tank” Mack, wasn’t even with the program. A problem with the former coaching staff chased the 6’4” 170-pound Mack from the team, and he’s please to be back with a new attitude.
“He can play everything from point guard to the four,” Berger said. “He can handle the ball, but with his size and ability to rebound, he can guard some post players in league.”
The starting lineup will fluctuate this season because Berger believes he has nine players who can all contribute. Senior Justin Miralles, junior Myles Carmon and junior Tyler Thornton will play major roles for the Rams, but freshman Robert Diaz (pictured) might be the most important player in the whole program. Berger said he hopes to work with the sharp point guard for the next four years.
“He can shoot and his basketball IQ is really high,” Berger said. “We want to have a culture that values the basketball, and he does a good job of implementing that for us.”
Diaz said that high-intensity practices has helped him adjust to varsity basketball, and that he isn’t surprised the Rams have had early success under Berger.
“The coaching and chemistry has been really good,” Diaz said. “(Berger) is keeping it simple and tells us how to play together.”
Despite coming from seven years at Los Alamitos High, Berger said his team won’t look like a typical Orange County team.
“We’ll be well-coached, but we’re going to get up and down and shoot because we have the personnel that gets up and down and shoots well,” Berger said. “Our team has the talent to compete. This year is about competing every time we step on the floor.”