Truckee’s new basketball Flohr leader
Tahoe-Truckee High School boys’ varsity first-year basketball coach Mike Flohr wasn’t physically imposing during his basketball playing career.
But through hard work and smart play, he earned all-league status while a prep at Bellarmine High School in San Jose and a spot on the Santa Clara University varsity team in the late 1980s.
That same sense of work ethic and discipline is what Flohr hopes to install in the Wolverine varsity this winter.
“We are looking to play good, hard-nosed basketball this season,” Flohr said. “We won’t be athletic as we were last year, but I’m hoping we can make up for it with hard work, smart play and preparation.”
Flohr, 27, who coached the Truckee junior varsity team to a second-place finish in Division I in 1996, takes over a Wolverine team which finished fourth at the Division I tournament last March and failed to qualify for the state playoffs.
Mike Merriman, the Wolverines’ coach in 1996, will coach the girls’ team this season.
“At the end of last season, Coach Merriman said he’d like to coach the girls and asked me if I’d like to coach the boys,” Flohr said. “It was entirely Mike’s decision to coach the girls.”
Now in his second year of teaching and coaching at TTHS, Flohr’s coaching “trademark” is a non-stop pressure defense.
“As far as my coaching style, it won’t change from the JV to varsity,” Flohr said. “We will still emphasize hard work, a high-pressure defense and a fast-paced game, but we can install some more advanced wrinkles on offense, because the players attitudes and physical statures are more mature on varsity.”
Although this is Flohr’s first head coaching job, he has seven years’ experience at various high schools, including a stint as assistant at Leigh High School in San Jose.
Flohr, who often vacationed with his family at Donner Lake during his childhood, said he always enjoyed the Truckee area and gladly accepted an invitation from TTHS principal Dennis LeBlanc to join the TTHS faculty two years ago.
“I always wanted to get out of the Bay Area,” Flohr said. “It’s funny how things work out.”
Flohr will have plenty of basketball experiences to relate to the Wolverines to calm the team when it plays in hostile gyms like Spring Creek and North Tahoe.
“One of the highlights I had was playing at Indiana in the Hoosier Dome,” Flohr said. “Another was playing New Mexico State in the NIT in The Pit (the nickname for New Mexico’s arena).”
“I didn’t play much in college, but it was a great experience just traveling to all of the different places as a team,” said Flohr, who averaged 20 points a game his senior year of high school.
Flohr said this year’s team can win within the league – if it works extremely hard.
“We could lose any given game – or we could win any given game,” Flohr said.
Flohr said he doesn’t want the Truckee fans to cut him – or the team – any slack during his first year of coaching.
“Our goal is to win, and if we don’t, I, and the players, should be held accountable,” Flohr said. “It’s been too long for Truckee basketball to be weak.”
The Wolverine players seem to be buying into Flohr’s basketball philosophy.
“I like him as the coach and think he’s really good,” said senior forward Merek Poco. “He makes us work hard during practice, but it will pay off during the season.”
Poco said one word has been repeated constantly during the Wolverines’ early-season practices.
“Defense,” Poco said. “He really likes defense. Offense wins games, but defense wins championships, he says.”
Truckee returns five players from the 1996 squad, including Poco, Cody Haas, Dustin Demont, Tom Cruz and Ryan Babb.
Other players who appear to have made the team include Mark Logan, Nick Franklin, Mike Detwiler, Paul DeCarlo, Taylor Greene, Tim Larson, Robbie McClendon and Tom Hernandez.
“I don’t know yet who will be starting,” Flohr said. “It’s not like five guys are jumping out as the starters. Everyone is going to get to play.”
Haas saw considerable time at point guard last season. Demont is the team’s top rebounder and Cruz is the team’s leading returning scorer.
Poco said the team is looking forward to showing Truckee fans what the team can do, even without last year’s stars like Matt May and Kris Rendon.
“It’s a completely different team,” Poco said. “A lot of the players from last year have graduated, and I think the current players want to show how good they really are. I think there’s a good chance we’ll be a good team.”
Completing a deal they agreed upon last spring, longtime varsity baseball coach Craig Anderson will be Flohr’s assistant this winter. Flohr was Anderson’s assistant during baseball season.
“He used to be a heck of a player,” said Flohr of Anderson, who will work primarily with the Truckee guards.
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The Truckee girls’ soccer team remains undefeated, picking up a 5-0 win at home Saturday against Churchill County.