By Matt Schwab.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013-Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.
When his Swedish and Norwegian players start talking in their native languages during games, Ohlone College men's basketball coach John Peterson can understand them.
He once lived in Sweden for a year, but the guy toting the whistle on the court is probably lost in translation.
"I can only imagine what they say to the referees," Peterson quipped.
Such is life on the eclectic Renegades squad, which boasts nine foreigners and entered Coast Conference-North Division play this week ranked fourth in Northern California and sixth in the state.
The Renegades, who have beaten Diablo Valley twice this season, will host powerful City College of San Francisco -- ranked No. 1 in the state -- at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Ohlone's foreigners form a tall order. Six of them are 6-foot-5 or taller, and only one, team leader Jarrad Jackson of Perth, Australia, is under 6-foot.
The other imports are Norwegians Henry McCarthy (6-9) and Fredrik Boehn (6-6); Swedes Anton Miller (6-0) and Karl Ohrner (6-8); Australians Anel Bucuk (6-6) and Ashley Stephens (6-4); Jason Bi of Shanghai, China (6-5); and Ring Ayuel of Sudan, Africa (7-4), a basketball novice who's played in four games and has five total points.
Peterson gives all the foreigners high marks for their discipline and drive.
"The nice thing about having those guys is that they've come up predominantly to play in highly-organized, team-based basketball," Peterson said. "It almost the antithesis of what you would see in an AAU setting. Everything they do is about team. It's refreshing.
"Their understanding of the game and their skill level is pretty high, and it makes it really easy to coach. Their ability to retain information and understand stuff and commit to playing as a group is remarkable."
Peterson says his players' English is good, along with their defense. Ohlone has allowed just 55 points a game, and opponents are shooting just 37 percent from the floor.
"Defensively, this is definitely one of the best groups we've had, by far," Peterson said. "I think our size a lot to do with that."
Ohlone is led by 6-foot-3 sophomore Chris Read, a Castro Valley High graduate averaging 16.2 points a game.
Over the summer Peterson was a globe-trotter himself. He coached a United States men's 'B" team, composed of Division I players who just graduated and European-based pros, against some of the top prospects in China. The team played nine games over 12 days during a grueling Chinese tour.
"Man, they were good. Let me tell ya," he said of the American squad.
As for the Renegades, he thinks this season could be special.
"I think it could be if we stay healthy, knock on wood," he said. "We can really shoot it. We play well together. We're unselfish."
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