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Chavka checks back into the game.

Byline: Chris Hansen The Register-Guard

L C C b a s k e t b a l l

When Bruce Chavka quit his head coaching job in northern California to move to the Oregon coast in 2005, his goal was to be back marching the sidelines in four or five years. It didn't take anywhere near that long.

Chavka is barely into his fourth month on the job at Lane Community College, where he is the Titans' third men's basketball coach in the last four seasons. He was hired in August after just one season as an assistant at Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay.

"It's been a blur ever since," said Chavka, 36, who for four years was the head coach at Napa Valley Community College in California. Chavka initially moved to Oregon to be closer to his 2 1/2 -year-old daughter, who lives in Yachats, and took the job at SWOCC where friend Trevor Hoppe is the head coach.

"When I saw last summer that Lane had an opening, I said, `holy smokes,' ' Chavka said. "The next thing you know, it's August and I'm here. I lucked out."

Maybe in the timing, but as far as being qualified, Chavka appears to have the credentials. Before NVCC, Chavka served as assistant coach at Lamar Community College in Colorado, Iowa Wesleyan College and as an graduate assistant basketball coach at the University of Northern Colorado.

This season, his Titans are off to a 3-2 start heading into their annual Dale Bates Tournament, which will feature teams from Linn-Benton, Umpqua, Grays Harbor, Pierce and Skagit Valley community colleges, as well as SWOCC and the Linfield junior varsity.

There will be four games today and Saturday, scheduled every two hours beginning at 2 p.m. Lane will play Skagit Valley at 8 tonight. The winner will face the winner of today's Umpqua-Grays Harbor game on Saturday.

The losers will also meet. On Sunday, there will be three games starting at 10 a.m.

The tournament is named in honor of Bates, who coached the basketball team for 18 seasons before retiring after the 1991 season. He was replaced by Jim Boutin, who coached the team for 12 seasons before retiring in 2003.

Since then, Lane has struggled to find a long-term solution. They had Ryan Orton for the 2003-04 season, then Matt Swagerty for the last two.

"I think every coach wants to be around one place for 20 years," Chavka said. "That consistency makes a big difference."

But at the same time, Chavka said, when you cycle through players every two years, it tends to make regime changes easier. In that regard, Swagerty left things in pretty good shape for Chavka.

The Titans return four players from last season's team that went just 12-14 overall but made the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges' postseason tournament, where they won their first-round game before losing their next two.

"I was left with a lot more than one would think," Chavka said. "Any time you have kids who played deep into the postseason, that's pretty good."

Chavka then added Dylan Hettrich, a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard from Glencoe High School who played two seasons ago for Portland Community College, and former South Eugene standout Brandon Hausman, a 6-8 sophomore forward. Hettrich is Lane's leading scorer at 12.2 per game, while Hausman is averaging 11.7 points and 9.3 rebounds.

"Our learning curve has picked up lately," Chavka said. "We've progressed quite nicely, but we're still trying to find our identity."

A search that Chavka hopes will lead his team to a lunch pail.

"I want us to have that type of mentality," he said. "I want us to play tough, rebound, dive for balls, be the overachievers."

Chavka admitted his coaching style has evolved through time. Though not as serious and stern a coach as he was when he started on his career path, Chavka still has certain unbendable demands for his players.

"I want then to have a good time, have fun," Chavka said. "But I also want them to do the right thing and be accountable on and off the court and make winning a by-product of that. ... Hopefully you get a two-year relationship with each kid, and I want to help them move on to something bigger."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Dec 8, 2006
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