Analise Riezebos, a former star member of the St. Joseph High School girls basketball team, will coach her first league game Friday night.
For the last month, Riezebos has been the head coach at her alma mater, although the transition from associate coach to head coach didn't play out how she anticipated. Riezebos has taken over after her former coach, Ed Torres, was dismissed in early December.
Torres said his last day with the team was Dec. 5 after the Knights lost to Clovis East at a tournament in San Luis Obispo, dropping the team to 1-5 on the season. St. Joseph is now 2-15 and set to play host to 17-1 San Luis Obispo Friday night at 6:45 p.m. in a Mountain League game.
How does Torres describe the ending of his tenure coaching basketball at St. Joseph High School?
"There was a point where we agreed to disagree," Torres said of he and the SJHS administration.
Torres coached the Knights for 27 combined seasons in both boys and girls basketball. He won a total of seven CIF Southern Section championships (five in girls and two in boys) and two CIF state titles in girls basketball, one in 1990 and another in 2011. He coached Riezebos as the Knights captured a 2010 CIF Southern Section title the year after Ron Barba was fired after winning a CIF-SS championship.
Despite all his success, Torres' exit as the program's leader was unceremonious and unannounced. On Dec. 19, a tipster called into the Times' office asking if the sports staff had heard that Torres, perhaps the area's most successful basketball coach of all-time, was no longer coaching the Knights.
Torres later confirmed, admitting that he had been waiting for the news to make the rounds.
Now, Torres would like to continue coaching and says he'll monitor area games for the rest of the season and hopes to be a varsity assistant or head coach next year for girls or boys basketball.
Does Torres ever see himself returning to coach at St. Joseph?
"No," he said bluntly.
"It all happened very quickly," Torres said of the ending of his tenure at St. Joseph. "I have 27 years at St. Joe's, 14 on the boys side and 13 on the girls side with seven CIF titles and two state championships. I've experienced some success over the years... My success came from my ability to get a team to play together. I always say, 'You have to practice hard together and play hard together.' That's my philosophy: You either coach it or you tolerate it. You expect things to be done the right way. I'm hoping this is the end of one chapter and I'm hoping to find a program that I can help out next year. I still have some value to programs that want to be successful.
"I don't think people understand how tough it is to coach nowadays. There's a lot of immediate gratification and you have to be able to have buy-in. It's a marathon and not a sprint and there will be ups and downs. People just remember the championships, but don't realize it doesn't just happen overnight."
Riezebos says she's prepared for a long, arduous league campaign ahead. She does feel the team has responded to the coaching change and pointed to the Knights;' upset of Mission Prep at St. Joseph's own tournament last month as proof.
"I think the girls are fighting through the adversity. It's going to be a long season," Riezebos said during an interview on Dec. 22. "We're young, but I think that they are taking the change with some fight and I think that having someone that can relate to them a little bit better is really going to be beneficial to them."
St. Joseph beat Mission Prep 59-55 on Dec. 20 and the Knights have been more competitive since an early-season spell that featured a 52-5 loss to Lompoc on Dec. 1. The Knights lost to San Francisco Mercy 56-49 on Dec. 27 and Hollister San Benito 52-41 on Dec. 29.
"Analise was a hard-nosed player for me and I believe if she can translate her attitude as a player to a coach she will find success," Torres said. "She's a young, up-and-coming coach. (Michael) Krob has been an assistant for a number of years and I don't think you can minimize his value to the program. He does a lot of different things."
After a playing career at Chico State, Riezebos was brought in as St. Joseph's associate head coach in March. Torres said there was an unspoken understanding that Riezebos would eventually take over the program in a few years, when Torres was ready.
But a source close to the program said a rift developed between Torres and a group of veteran players and soon enough the St. Joseph administration felt Torres' position as head coach was untenable.
"Of course it's difficult, but luckily I was able to coach with Ed for the last six months," Riezebos said of the transition. "He really knew what he was doing and I think that the girls have a good foundation and now I'm just going to try and lead them in the right direction and continue developing them as players and as young women."