Academics, Attitude, Athletics : Three words that describe a history committed towards excellence.
Since the 1979-80 season, the Blue Devils have won 258 and lost 75. In 1984-85 Coach Reid took a leave of absence. In his place Assistant Coach Chuck Girardi took over the Head Coach's position and Bill Russell assisted. Chuck took the Blue Devils to an impressive 23-11 record and conference title. Don returned in 1985. He took the team to the State Semi-Finals in 1987-88. The Blue Devils were led by California JC All-American Sam Barnes, All-State Tournament selection Ron Tabron, and Merced College 3-point record holder Reggie Ricks. The '87-'88 team was the 25th year in which Merced College fielded a men’s basketball team.
1988-89 became the dawning of a new age in Blue Devil Basketball. Former player and current Assistant Coach Bill Russell took over. In his first year Bill won the Camino Norte Conference and was Coach of the Year. In his first two years, Bill had led the Blue Devils to the Lassen Tournament (1st time ever), and Kris Kringle Tournament (1st time ever) victories. His first team went to the finals of the State Regional Playoffs before losing to CC San Francisco in the last second.