Aaron Balla has taken over the California boys basketball team, and while he knows there is work to do, the new coach says things are moving in the right direction.

“We have noticed a significant improvement in their want to learn and understand the strategy for this season, in which they are absorbing it rather well,” said Balla. “Mostly, their positivity and energy are at a peak.”

Balla talked at length about expectations for the Trojans.

“We set a simplistic, yet firm, set of expectations for this season to follow,” he said. “Initially, we all discussed attendance and its significance to your fellow teammates as well as oneself to develop a team bond.

“Secondly, we emphasized being ready to go in terms of dressed, laced up and eager to get on the court and finally, we expressed how much remaining positive and encouraging one another will play a huge role in the team bonding as well as during trying times.

“We have five on the court, but we want the spectators to see us as one unit when we come out on that hardwood floor.”

“We believe we have the talent to compete with anyone we face, but our keys to success will be to keep the ball movement priority, defensive rebounds and controlling the tempo we want,” added Balla.

Balla said that he doesn’t have set positions for his players, but the team returns three starters in seniors Austin Grillo and Derrick Hammett, as well as junior Cochise Ryan.

He also pointed out sophomores Jaeden Zuzak, Nate O’Savage and Matt Trunzo will play key roles, while seniors Mike Zemany and Jelani Stafford, juniors Philip Stewart, Malik Ramsey and Mason Watkins and sophomore Kwondre Porter are expected to contribute.

The Trojans are in Section 2-AA with Bentworth, Brentwood, Carmichaels, Chartiers-Houston, Jeannette and Serra Catholic.

How will Balla judge the season on whether it is a success or not?

“We will have a successful season if we remain positive, healthy and trustworthy of the game plan and each other.”

The Trojans host a tip-off tournament, facing Beth-Center on Dec. 7.

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