Gateway: Sports

Peninsula tabs former UPS assistant as new boys basketball coach

New Peninsula boys basketball coach Matt Robles, left, with his former player, Sheldon Croney Jr., who now plays football at Iowa State University. Robles takes over the Seahawks program after Jake Jackson took the Sumner job.
New Peninsula boys basketball coach Matt Robles, left, with his former player, Sheldon Croney Jr., who now plays football at Iowa State University. Robles takes over the Seahawks program after Jake Jackson took the Sumner job. Courtesy

Matt Robles fell in love with the Tacoma area when he worked as an assistant basketball coach at the University of Puget Sound from 2005 to 2011.

Now he’ll have a chance to return.

Robles, 33, has been named the new Peninsula High School boys basketball coach. He has spent the past five years in California, coaching for four years at Garces Memorial High School and the past year at East Bakersfield High in California’s Division-II. Robles posted a 10-19 record last season with East Bakersfield.

When Robles saw the job opening in Purdy, he couldn’t pass up the chance to come back to the area.

“I’ve always loved the Northwest and the Tacoma area,” Robles said. “In the back of my mind, I was always looking for a chance to get back. This one opened up and I thought it’d be a good fit.”

Robles worked as an assistant at UPS under Eric Bridgeland for one season and current Loggers coach Justin Lunt from 2006 to 2011. A lot of Robles’ coaching style is based on things he learned from both coaches.

“Bridgeland, he’s a heck of a ball coach,” Robles said. “He does a lot well, he’s very organized and he gets the most out of his players. With Lunt, what I respect most about him (is) he adapts to his players, he’s a very smart coach and he’s a great person. He really connects with his guys.”

Robles said the teams he coaches are defensive minded, first and foremost.

“We’re going to be tough, hard-nosed, physical and competitive,” Robles said. “I like to play as fast as we possibly can. We’ve got to fit our offense as best we can to those guys. I’m a big believer in defense.”

Former coach Jake Jackson built a strong foundation at Peninsula before leaving to take the Sumner High job, posting a 58-35 record in four years. Robles said he looks forward to continuing what Jackson started.

“(Jackson) did a great job putting the foundation in place,” Robles said. “He deserves a ton of credit for that. I’m very fortunate to step in and keep that thing rolling.”

Robles will be starting from scratch, somewhat, as Peninsula graduated its entire starting five, including Oregon State signee JaQuori McLaughlin, the best player in the program’s history.

“I’m just excited to meet the boys and see how competitive they are and how competitive we can be,” Robles said. “I know we lost a lot but I would imagine these boys have something to prove. Everyone is going to say, ‘They lost so much, what are they going to do?’ Everything I’ve heard about them, we’ll all have something to prove.”

Robles, a self-proclaimed diehard Mariners fan, plans to pick his bags, his two dogs and move up to Washington next month.

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