After assisting longtime women's basketball coach Jamie Hayes for 11 seasons, Derek Lau has been thrust into that top spot as Hayes decided to focus on her duties as City College of San Francisco women's athletic director.
Lau understands he has big shoes to fill. All Hayes did in her 12 seasons as coach was lead the Rams to seven Coast Conference championships, two final fours and four elite eights.
The expectations will not change, either.
“In my first season, I am just looking to continue the high level of success CCSF has had in the past,” Lau said. “Jamie set the bar high on and off the court and I just want to continue that success.”
One of the challenges Lau faces in his first season is depth. The Rams are eight players deep and were dealt a big blow this summer, when sophomore guard Mariah Masoli — a former Mercy High School of San Francisco star — tore her ACL and MCL in the summer.
Also gone from a season ago on a roster that went 25-4 is first-team All-State member Tatsiana Dashkevich, along with second-team All-State member Franeka Hall (June Jordan High School), who moved on to California State Los Angeles. Joining Hall at CSULA is Geena Greene, who was named first-team all-conference.
Lau will be counting on incoming freshman Kelly Wong (Lowell High School) and returning a sophomore Chanel Malone (Balboa High School) to pick up the scoring and leadership, however, he knows he'll need all eight of his players to contribute for this team to be successful.
“Everyone just has to step up, be in the best condition possible and be ready to play,” Lau said. “They know we are playing with eight, and they have to play smart and under control.”
The Rams will continue to play fast, pushing the pace with a trapping defense, and an offense predicated on being balanced. Lau mentioned that this group “has a high basketball IQ” and can “make adjustments on the fly.”
With that said, with a new playcaller on the sideline and a team made up of five freshmen, the lofty goals remain the same: conference championship and a long run in the state playoffs.
“My expectations are always very high,” Lau said. “We are always aiming to try and win a conference championship, and make a deep playoff run.”