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Patsies no more

November 25, 1999

Barry Faulkner

COSTA MESA - Entrenched, in recent years, in the unflattering

locale of cupcake city, the Costa Mesa High boys basketball team, under

first-year coach and former Newport Harbor head man Bob Serven, has

submitted a change of address.

"In the past, when people looked at the schedule, they'd see Costa Mesa

and think 'That's a win,' " Serven said. "That's not the case anymore."

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Serven, who was twice Sea View League Coach of the Year in four seasons

at Harbor (1989-93), spent the last six as a valued assistant and

defensive architect at Santa Margarita. He won one league title at

Newport and had a hand in three CIF Southern Section crowns, as well as

one state title, at Santa Margarita.

So, despite Mesa's 11-62 mark the last three seasons under former coach

Erich Allen, its current 39-game Pacific Coast League losing streak and

16 straight nonwinning seasons, Serven doesn't plan on altering his

penchant for success.

"The biggest thing was to get the kids to know they could win and we did

that this summer," Serven said. "Now, I'm hoping we can get off to a good

start, so we might catch some people's attention. We want to get some

respect."

The Mustangs plan to earn that respect with the hard-nosed play Serven

demands, as well as a roster long on varsity experience and not lacking

talent.

"I like my team a lot," Serven said. "We have hard workers, good

chemistry and a good mix of seniors and younger kids who push each

other."

Leading the returners is 6-foot-3 senior Nate Jones, who averaged 15.4

points last season en route to second-team All-PCL recognition. Primarily

an inside player under Allen, Jones will be used more facing the basket

this season.

"He has a good intermediate game and he has been working on his

three-point shot," Serven said.

Rick Hatsushi, a 5-10 senior, returns at point guard, where his floor

leadership has impressed Serven. He averaged 6.8 points last season.

Serven, who plans to consistently employ an eight-man rotation, said

starting assignments have yet to be firmly established.

Among those who figure to contribute heavily are senior veterans Steve

Whittaker, Ryan Naff, Shaun Ferryman and Dave Weir, as well as 6-6 junior

Mike Payne and sophomore David Conte.

Whittaker, a 6-0 guard, averaged 7.5 points for last season's 4-22 unit.

A three-point shooter, he has impressed Serven with his defensive acumen.

Naff, a varsity performer as a sophomore, is back after having played

last year in Georgia. A dangerous three-point bomber, the 6-4 senior

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