Sunday, October 24, 2004


You gotta take care of the onion or it will make you cry.

I ran across that old saying recently when pondering the prospects for Long Beach State’s cash cow, know as men’s basketball. It seems that most teams in the Big West Conference have a selection of those 6-7 or so shooters, nobody has a good seven footer, and everybody needs a great ball handler.

Last year the Niner backcourt fell faster and harder than Fidel. Jabril Hodges was the slender shooting guard and Kevin Houston a 5-10 freshman puppy fed to older, taller and bigger wolves. For the record the Beach boys finished 6-21 overall and 4-14 in conference. Even worse, the stretch run where LBSU lost its final 10 games and missed the BWC Tournament for the second consecutive season.

Fast forward to now where we sit a week away from the first competition for the new look Niners and that bring-the-ball-up job is still to open. Head coach Larry Reynolds figures the answer will have to be packaged as Special K and he’s got three to choose from. Familiar from last year and in better condition is K-1 as in Kevin Houston. The bigger and stronger K is Keion Kindred, 6-5, 235 imported from an Arizona JUCO team that went 27-7 last year with Keion a passing fancy, the all time assists leader, but offering little scoring.

The other K possibility is a dark horse in hard working Wilson red-shirt Kevin Crockett, bigger at 6-1 than Houston, the best pure shooter of the three, but smaller and less experience than Kindred or Houston. Film at 11 and first exhibition on November 5th.

NAME DROPPING DUST-- Best of the Hall of Fame moments, this from Jim McCormack of the PT who was a community inductee in 1996 and set the record for length of acceptance speech. With the eight inductees last week moving fast past the podium, Jim, noting his record, cracked, “nobody laid a glove on me this year.” In fact the longest speaking moment was when Athletic Department icon Pat West gave a full length invocation that ended with thanking God for helping her beloved Red Sox beat the Yankees.
Another highlight was a sincere salute to her “Long Beach family” from Misty May who had two 2004 highs, that gold medal and her engagement to Florida Marlin catcher Matt Treanor. As for China and the 2008 Olympics, or even next year on the pro beach tour, “we’ll see, I’ve got a lot on my mind.” Translated, that November wedding and a bit of burn out from the rigors of the AVP world beach tour.

Where are they dept.? Former Niner lady basketeer Traci Waites is the new head coach of women's basketball at Columbia. She was let go from Pittsburgh after being the 1999-2000 Big East Co-Coach of the Year. Her new boss at Columbia, Merry Ormsby, said "Traci is extremely charismatic, passionate about the sport of basketball and passionate about her student-athletes." And she could really handle the onion.

Wrapping up with the ladies of the Spike, last weekend was a take five moment for Brian Gimmillaro and company, losing in five games to pesky senior dominated Northridge then beating old foe Pacific with a comeback win over the Tigers. This weekend LB continues its conference play on the road at Idaho on Thursday and Utah State on Saturday before the Pyramid paybacks they have in mind for Irvine and Santa Barbara.

Closing numbers. Ten under par and $10,262 last weekend on the courses of Disney World for 49er golf alum Paul Goydos who is fighting his way back up the PGA money list. He cashed almost 10 grand at Las Vegas in early October and his pals at Virginia Country Club and the Beach campus are rooting him on.—DR. DAN

Monday, October 18, 2004


Our cash and Kerry, no hiding in the Bush, notes on the napkin two weeks before you know what.

The “what” of course are the exhibition openers for the ladies and gents of LB basketball who officially broke a sweat last weekend warming up for the exhibition season. The high-hopes-hoop ticket of Larry and Mary (Reynolds and Hegarty) will have to lean on some recycled parts to drive them to post-season.

Oklahoma State transfer Onye Ibekwe looks to be a difference maker for the men and USC transfer ball hawking Aisha Hollans and Colorado State incoming gunner Val Wilhout will try and turn last years too gentle women into lady killers.

Time out for Trivia. What three NHL teams play their home games within 40 miles of each other? Answer at the end.

Back to the present, the log jam atop the Big West volleyball rankings could get even tighter by the weekend after the Niners try and use the home court advantage to go after some visiting BWC leaders Northridge and Pacific Friday and Saturday. Hopefully next year at this time the Ladies of the Spike won’t have to fret the conference matches as much as they have in 2004. The good news is that LBSU has a great incoming class next season, Ali Daley, a 6-0 OH from Grass Valley, CA, Stephanie Tokarz, a 6-4 MB from Kechi, Kan.; Debbie’s daughter Nicole Vargas a 5-8 Setter from St. Joseph HS and Naomi Washington, a 6-3 OH, from New Orleans.

Switching subjects don’t count on unsigned Dirtbag ace Jered Weaver going to the bank until after the World Series since he and a five other top picks are still negotiating. Wade Townsend (No. 8, Orioles), Justin Verlander (No. 2, Tigers), Philip Humber (No. 3, Mets), Jeff Niemann (No. 4, Devil Rays), and Stephen Drew (No. 15, Diamondbacks) are all playing hard ball with the GM’s. Best be is they ink up just before Spring Training begins.

Speaking of fame and fortune, an independent producer is scouring the campus (police department excluded) for materials to include in a 90 minute CBS documentary on the career of ex LB Coach Jerry Tarkanian (1969-1975). “We are searching for film footage, home movies or game broadcasts of his Long Beach State teams….or fans with vivid recollections of those teams.” Word of caution, stay out of the Admin building.

Back to the bases, fall ball scrimmages for the 2005 Dirtbags get underway this weekendat Blair and with free to look contests on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. Or there abouts.The same times and place the next three weekends too.

One thing to watch for with the baseball bunch is who’s on two. We get this from our hot stove
league web wizard Jeffrey from his Dirtbag Blog where he says, “It could get real interesting as Coach Weathers decides who will set up behind the plate in 2005. Tito Cruz got a fair amount (though part time) of play last year, including a few games behind the plate and at times looked ready to break out. Chris Jones (now a junior) and David Chamberlain (now a soph.) are
also listed as catcher as is Jordan Struble out of Saddleback.”

And now this from our foreign correspondent Mo Haneef. His fresh from Athens volleyball daughter Tayyiba “is really being treated like royalty in Japan. They have given her an interpreter, a car and a nice place to live.” Mo said that there are only four Americans permitted to play in the Japan Leagues and when Ty and her former Niner teammate Elisha Thomas leave the court and hit the shops they are mobbed by fans.

Trivia answer to our trick question. What three NHL teams play their home games within 40 miles of each other? None. Pro hockey is on strike except our Chilled Chihuahuas (translated Long Beach Ice Dogs). The non-lockout NHL answer is The New York Rangers, New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils. Fix yourself to a hot dog and kill the light on your way out.-DR. DAN.

Sunday, October 10, 2004


Broken plays, busted plays, garbage time.

As sordid as these statements sound, the truth is that all the above often explains the difference between winning and losing.

This notion came to mind last weekend while following the Mash Unit that is LBSU women’s volleyball. The Beach lost to UC Irvine when the amazing Anteater Kelly Wing scored off of an assortment of shanks, overpasses and under-sets and the 49ers did not.

Against way-over-matched UC Davis the Beach gals scrambled from time to time with their who‘s-healthy-tonight rotation but won three games in less than an hour keeping the Aggie offense from scoring even when the LB passing broke down. “We can get better at that sort of things” skipper Brian Gimmillaro would comment post-match, “but we just don’t know who’s going to be on the floor these days.” Erika Chidester has been out since day two but Brian figured he could adjust for that major loss with healthy help from Mariko Crum, or Kristen Voyson or Rosie Lewis. All three were reduced to cheerleader status alongside Erika and gimpy but game Natalie Uhart and Makini Thompson (both off of major knee surgeries) had to be plugged in.

“If we could practice together I think we could make those adjustments better during games but we don’t and when we don’t communicate during games it is a struggle” Uhart would note. All this by the way that is from a leader on a team that takes the road this weekend a nifty 13-2 and have a great chance against dismal Cal Poly (0-7 in the Big West) and struggling Santa Barbara (losers of three of their last five). Win those roadies, hold serve at home, get some players back and the Beach could be busting the NCAA brackets for another Sweet Sixteen appearance.

MORE BREAKING DUST-Men’s cage czar Larry Reynolds kept his cards close to the chest in his recent booster gab fest but keeping to today’s theme, how well the lads can adjust to strangers on the court will have a lot to say about the basketball fortunes of LB and LR. That opening night starting lineup will likely have just one returnee mixing with folks from Ohio (JUCO’s Erik Atman (6-10) and Shawn Hawkins (6-6) plus Xavier transfer Anthony Coleman (6-11) and Oklahoma State transfer Onye Ibekwe (6-8). That’s a lot of new beef on the court for slender guard Jabril Hodges to orchestrate. “We should be more or a presence under the basket and I hope that we will do a better job on the offensive boards,” Reynolds would say. Translated, get some put-back garbage points.

NAME GAMES-Linda Robertson in the Miami Herald….”We need a star -- an athlete with Muhammad Ali's verbosity, Wayne Gretzky's dominance and Dan Marino's sense of urgency. In one swoop of those giant hands, Shag O'Neal transforms the Heat franchise.” Thanks Kobe.

I sent Wayne Morgan his birthday card last week (54 years young) but what makes his NIT Final Four fans really happy these days is another Bronx guy, Iowa State sophomore guard Curtis Stinson. The Cyclones leading scorer was named to the preseason Wooden Award list and was a first-team freshman All-American in 2004.

New addresses for a couple of last year’s basketball players, 7-footer Alex Graham to Hawaii Hilo and utility guy Ulric Pattillo to a practice-conflicting mechanical engineering lab. Ulric may be back next year as will heralded guard Jazz Henderson who is getting eligible going the JC route ala Shawn Hawkins.

The closing quote from UC Davis volleyball coach Stephanie Hawbecker newcomer to the Big West conference. “"Playing Long Beach State is exciting. They have national championships under their belt. Let's learn from them and imitate them. I want to go in and play our best volleyball. These teams are where we want to be down the road. They're the matches I'm most excited about.”—DR. DAN

Sunday, October 03, 2004


In the Niner volleyball media guide you will find a couple of photos of hard hitting front row star Mariko Crum. In her big photo, and if you see her on the court Saturday night against UC Davis, you will see she is Number 79. In last year’s official pix she was wearing a more conventional number 17 but there is more to tell.

By way of background you need to know that 79 is the biggest number carried by any student athlete at LBSU. Basketballers go into the fifties, baseball players in the forties, and most every body else wears 20 or less. So how did this 6-3, playing with pain, blond banger get her big number?

To understand you have to realize Mariko is as talented athletically as she is academically. She’s a premed major raised in a family of jocks. Her father Bob and Mariko’s brother Conan, played football for Arizona and Dax, the youngest of the five Crum kids, is a junior in high school and a three-sport athlete. Bob also played two years in the NFL as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. Mariko, who was talked into trading her love for dance for volleyball by her older sister Cassidy, wears that number 79 at LB as a tribute to Conan, who was unable to complete his college football career because of an injury. And know you know the rest of the story.

MORE NUMBER DUSTING—As the countdown continues for the launch of that 49er cash cow basketball fans, and their coaches, will get their first legal look at the new teams on Saturday, October 16 from 2-5 pm in The Pyramid and after the hoping you can twirl some spaghetti for five bucks after the free scrimmage.

Next up some puzzling numbers on baseball recruiting where Collegiate Baseball Newspaper has placed Dirtbags incoming class at a modest 27th with 16 recruits--7 freshman, 7 JC transfers, and 2 transfers from 4 year colleges. The core of the 2005 team however comes back in the form of guys like Ramos, Tulowitzki, Mocny, Anderson, Boatright to name a few.

Baseball, softball, basketball and at least women’s volleyball and tennis have a hug number of teams participating, not so for out fall friends from water polo. Yes they are ranked 12th and improved to 8-5 with the wins Air Force and Princeton last weekend but while the level of play is excellent the pool of folks in the pool is very small. The 49ers will next be in action on Saturday when they host UC San Diego (12:30 pm) and Brown (4 pm) at the 49er Campus Pool.

Next up numbers are ones hovering around Jered Weaver. The Angels drafted him in the first round but his idea of $10 mill seems to be a stumbling block in signing the Simi slinger and packing him off to the Angels' fall instructional league in Arizona.

The Angel management is course is busy these days counting post-season profits and will have to determine a college pitcher’s value in the face of two other issues. One is the pressure from Major League Baseball to hold down signing bonuses and the second is what does a ten mill bonus do to the morale of an existing, and very productive, roster?

"Obviously when you draft him, you'd like to sign him, get him into the system, let him work with the coaches, see what his talent is and try to prepare him for spring training," Angel owner Arte Moreno said. "It hasn't worked out that way.

Our closing number comes from my dear friend Marge who lives in the shadow of the Pyramid. Asked by a mutual friend if the still drives, this sprightly 80 something said yes, but, “I think that I am on my fourth hit and run.” Calm down, it’s mostly parallel parking.—DR. DAN