Kaplansky named new Gavilan College men’s basketball coach

David Kaplansky, seen here coaching the San Benito girls in the 2009 CCS playoffs, is the new coach of the Gavilan College men's basketball team.

Ever since David Kaplansky got into coaching, it’s been a dream of his to head a college program.
On Monday, Kaplansky’s goal was realized when he was named the new head coach of the Gavilan College men’s basketball team. Kaplansky, 38, takes over for former coach Tito Addison, who stepped down after eight years on the job.
“The plan was to always have an opportunity to coach at the next level,” said Kaplansky, who had two separate stints coaching the San Benito High boys’ basketball team, sandwiched in between a stint coaching the school’s girls’ squad. “It’s a great opportunity, and a lot of work went into this as far as years of experience on the job at San Benito.
“I’m just really pleased I’ll be able to further represent our community in a different fashion. I’ve always valued my years at San Benito, but at the same time, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me.”
Kaplansky inherits a program that hasn’t tasted success in a long time. This past season, the Rams were a woeful 1-22, including 0-12 in Coast Conference play. Out of the 22 losses, 15 of them were by 15 points or more, and five by 30 points or more.
Ron Hannon, the director of athletics at Gavilan, said he believes the Rams haven’t had a winning season since the mid-1990s. Even though Kaplansky acknowledges he faces an enormous challenge, he’s no stranger to turning around teams — and fast. A year before Kaplansky took over the San Benito girls’ team for the 2007-08 season, the Haybalers went 8-15.
But in Kaplansky’s first year, San Benito had one of its best seasons in school history. The Balers finished 24-6, captured the Central Coast Section Division I championship and won a game in the CIF Northern California playoffs for the first time in school history.
In his four years coaching the girls, the Balers went 87-27, including a 39-9 mark in league play and two CCS titles. In two separate stints with the San Benito boys’ squads — the first from 2001-05 and the second from 2011-14 — the Balers went a combined 137-50.
Beyond the wins — of which there were plenty — Kaplansky was a true teacher of the game, and his players often competed as if their life depended on it. That’s why Hannon expressed plenty of excitement with the hiring.
“When people think of Dave Kaplansky, they know he brings passion to the game,” Hannon said. “Obviously the experience and success he’s had is impressive, especially when you consider he did it at one program for a sustained period of time. We’re not talking about a team that had 14 Division I caliber type players running through there.”
Indeed, Kaplansky was able to maximize each of his team’s talent, and, in many cases, helped coach his players to heights they might have never reached without his tutelage.
Kaplansky coaches with a demonstrative style that isn’t for everyone. However, Kaplansky always made things positive at the end, and his players were willing to run through the proverbial wall for him.
“My (coaching) delivery is positive, and I’m going to keep coaching with energy and passion,” Kaplansky said. “I am who I am, and that’s not going to change. I want to bring excitement to the Gavilan program.”
Kaplansky’s first priority, of course, is to get rolling on the recruiting trail. The Rams had a freshmen-dominated roster last year, and it’s not clear how many of those players will return for their sophomore season.
However, Kaplansky knows the area well, and he said he’s going to focus on recruiting players from the immediate South Valley area.
“The No. 1 focus for me is to make a productive team out of local talent,” Kaplansky said. “I want to put together kids from San Benito, Gilroy, Christopher, Live Oak, Sobrato, and our surrounding areas. I want to make this a place where kids want to go after high school.”
That’s easier said than done, of course, but Hannon has the utmost confidence that Gavilan picked the right person for the job.
“If he gets a fraction of the success at Gavilan that he did at San Benito, it’s going to be exciting,” Hannon said. “We’re looking for his skill sets to transfer over to the college game. We all know it’s a different game, but Dave will learn and tweak as he goes along, and make the proper adjustments.”
A 1994 San Benito High graduate, Kaplansky played two years of basketball at Grossmont College in El Cajon before walking on at San Diego State University, eventually earning a scholarship in his senior year.
Although the Rams haven’t had much luck in putting together a winning program, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them make tremendous progress in Kaplansky’s first year at the helm.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a coach with his pedigree and experience come into this situation,” Hannon said. “It will be an exciting chapter for Gavilan College athletics.”

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