Lets take a trip to Northern California, no not to the bay or even Sacramento. We want to stay on US Highway 101 and head north and drive past San Francisco, keep going and pass the Santa Rosa area and keep going, pass Cloverdale, until you reach the city of Ukiah. The city is the county seat of Mendocino City and home of the Mendocino College Eagles. The men’s basketball program continues to fly high and head coach Billy Offill is doing some great work at one of the smaller junior colleges in the state.
In the 2019-2020 season, the Eagles put together a 21 win campaign, earned a 2nd place finish in the Bay Valley Conference and a seven seed in the post season. Mendocino picked up a second round victory over Foothill before losing to Fresno in the sweet sixteen. The culture is one of a kind at the Northern California school and the Eagles are putting themselves on the map with their play. “Chemistry is our #1 point of emphasis,” said Offill. The usually undersized Bay Valley squad makes up for it in other ways. “We play small ball, switching defensively, run, create extra possessions and share the ball,” added Offill. The unselfishness pays off as the Eagles are usually near the top of the state in assists each season. The Eagles don’t shy away from anyone in the state and take after their coach and his mindset. “We will be competitive and you will have a game when you play us,” the head coach added. Mendocino won’t back down from anyone and find their non conference schedule as one of the better ones in Northern California.
The bar has always been high but expectations will not change in Ukiah. “I want to win 20 games and challenge for a conference championship,” added Offill. The Eagles surpassed the 20 win mark and we should not expect anything different each season. The wins help recruiting and it also helps with exposure to the Mendocino program. Offill loves pass first point guards and versatility on the wing. “We let the system teach guys how to play the right way,” added Offill. Playing the right way has led to players moving on to the four year level. “We want our guys playing their best basketball when they get to the four year level,” said Offill. The four year level has often overlooked the talented state and it is often under recruited. “Guys have to go where they fit in,” added Offill. One thing is for sure, the Mendocino program may be a small college, but head coach Billy Offill and the Eagles are flying high in Ukiah.