A big test for Menlo boys in basketball season opener | News | Palo Alto Online |


A big test for Menlo boys in basketball season opener


The Menlo School boys basketball team opens its season Friday at Mitty.

Excuse me, Mitty? The team that’s roundly considered the No. 1 or No. 2-ranked team in the entire Central Coast Section?

“We’re going to have to grow up fast,’’ Menlo coach Keith Larsen said. “When (Mitty coach Tim Kennedy) called I said we’ll do our best, but we’re not used to playing WCAL teams. We’ll go in and battle and give them a fight.’’

Larsen has compiled a record of 90-45 in five years at Menlo. You might see his 25-4 team from two years ago being capable of playing a non-league schedule that, in addition to Mitty, includes road games at St. Ignatius and Menlo-Atherton. Certainly not last year’s 16-10 team.

But as usual, there’s a method to Larsen’s madness. As the veteran coach was quick to point out, that team from two years ago went into the CCS Open Division playoffs after cruising through West Bay Athletic League play, rarely being challenged, and proceeded to get blown out 80-58 by Mitty and 80-48 by S.I. But then went on to play its best basketball the next two weeks, winning a pair of games in the NorCal playoffs in which it was a big underdog.

So the thinking here is something along the lines of, ``If it doesn’t kill us it will make us better, make us rise up to a higher level.’’

“We can start three 6-7 guys,’’ Larsen chortled in his characteristic enthusiastic manner, referring to Cole Kastner, Garrett Keyhani and Chris Cook. “But it’s going to be difficult to put all those big guys in at once. We just don’t have great guard play, which worries me when we play pressing teams.’’

Larsen raves about Kastner, a three-year starter, who is headed to Virginia on a lacrosse scholarship.

“I could start him at point guard,’’ Larsen said. “He’s just a great kid. Here he’s a senior and he still gets the water, still sweeps the floor.’’

Larsen says the sky’s the limit for Keyhani, a sophomore who was on the varsity as a freshman last season.

“He could be as good as anybody who ever played at Menlo,’’ Larsen said. “Cole has to work hard in practice to get shots up against him.’’

With that kind of strength on the frontline it’s pretty clear what Menlo needs to do to be successful.

“If we can just take care of the ball,’’ Larsen said. “My guards don’t need to do a lot of scoring. Just get the ball into the big guys, get us into our offense.’’

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