Piatt excelling at CSU Maritime

Former Lincoln, Sierra star star helps team claim first conference title
By: Russ Edmondson The News Messenger
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Former Lincoln High and Sierra College star Haven Piatt just finished a very successful basketball season at Cal State Maritime Academy in Vallejo. Piatt, who graduated from Lincoln in 2004 before taking three years off from basketball, was the starting shooting guard for the Keelhaulers this season. Piatt’s scoring average of 13.3 points per game was second on the team and he helped Maritime win its first conference title in school history (9-3 in California Pacific Conference). The Keelhaulers also broke the school record for most wins (18-13 record) in a season. The season ended on Saturday as Menlo College topped top-seeded Maritime 65-61 in the semifinals of the conference tournament. Menlo played William Jessup in the title game on Tuesday night in Rocklin. “Haven really provides a stability on the floor – he’s definitely known as an excellent shooter,” Maritime head coach Bryan Rooney said. “His 3-point percentage, 47.7 percent (82-of-172) is No. 1 in the country at the NAIA level. That’s the first thing people think of, his ability to shoot the ball. And overall he plays with composure and his good decision making with the ball has improved. And what’s most underrated is probably what he has been able to do on the defensive end of the floor.” Piatt, 24, was named California Pacific Conference Player of the Week twice this season, most recently for the week of Feb. 2-8. “I knew we had a good team (coming into the season),” said Piatt, majoring in international business. “They did really good last year. We started off rough, 1-6, losing close games and then when we won our first one (after that initial stretch) our momentum just started going.” Piatt enjoys playing for Rooney. “Basically coach Rooney was on me tough (to go to school at Maritime) – calling me everyday and checking and seeing what I was doing,” said Piatt about how he ended up at Maritime. “I liked his passion and he’s really excited about basketball. And he saw something in me and he really wanted me on the team. He thought I would be a good fit.” Piatt says he and his teammates play better because of Rooney’s positive approach to coaching. “With Rooney it’s just easy to feed off of his passion for the game,” Piatt said. “He’s always got a positive attitude and he is a player’s coach. He’s always positive even after a bad loss. He will get mad but always ends on a positive note. It lets me realize how far we can take it and it’s easy to buy into (Rooney’s system).” Piatt, 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, says this season was the most fun he’s ever had. “For sure (it was the most fun) – and not only for basketball. Just living here also. I still lived at home (while attending Sierra College for the last two years) and living here has allowed me to become really close to my teammates,” Piatt said. “We all hang out everyday together and it’s different here . . . us basketball players just hang out with each other and it’s a really tight team. There are no outsiders. At Sierra we were really close but I have definitely never been on a team as close as we are.” Rooney knows Sierra coach John Fusano and that is how he found out about Piatt. Piatt played for Fusano for the last two seasons and was named to the all-Big 8 Conference team last year. “Coach Fusano used to be an assistant coach at Delta College for (current Sacramento State men’s basketball coach) Brian Katz and I played for coach Katz at Delta and I stayed in contact with Fusano,” Rooney said. “We are trying to get student athletes from quality schools and programs and Sierra is definitely one of those . . . I really like (Piatt’s) maturity on the floor and I saw him develop from his first to his second year (at Sierra).” Rooney is certain that he made the right decision in bringing Piatt to Vallejo. “There is a definite maturity level that you see right away. He doesn’t get too high or too low, pretty even keeled,” Rooney said. “But at the same time he just loves playing basketball and he will play as long as somebody lets him and as long as he can find a game and that’s the passion that he brings to our team . . . Some of the younger guys look to him at moments when we need someone to step up.”