Monday, November 08, 2004


Slump busters in college are for the truly superstitious. Even if they had a bigger budget the Dirtbags couldn’t afford to burn their bats. And by the way, aluminum only melts at a real high temperature.

For men’s basketball and volleyball teams there occasionally is a close shave, every player giving up their hair to reverse a curse. But for the ladies of the court up until now there hasn’t been much available to turn a team around. Until now.

The professor of Long Beach lady hoopness, Mary Hegarty, thought about this matter over the summer, off of a 14-16 campaign last year, and if there wasn’t an instant fix in the form of new players she decided to re-arrange the furniture. Translated, for the first time in the history of the campus a 49er team will sit on the left side of the scorer’s table instead of the right side. Was she slump busting, fighting superstitions, un-jinxing? According to the LB sports spin doctors none of the above. “It’s the shortest route to her locker room.” Okay with me but I suspect more.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program of names and notes. We will start with women’s basketball where the absence of their imported offense, Brazilian Fernanda Santos and UCS transfer Aisha Hollans, kept LBSU out of the win column during their exhibition visit from a group of big and old former college and pro players employed under the banner of Play Mode. A similarly talented traveling troupe, Love and Basketball, will test Hegarty’s kids on November 19th.

For the gents, who did not change benches, last weekend they played like they love basketball, at least basketball as played against UC San Diego. Newcomer Shawn Hawkins scored, oft-injured Anthony Coleman rebounded and blocked shots, and the backcourt boys bothered the Tritons enough for 33 turnovers. Coach Reynolds will try and wrap up exhibition win number two tonight (Thursday) when Alaska-Anchorage visits the Beach after hosting LBSU in their tourney. After that, everything is for real, opposition and records.

Speaking of everything else, the Big West gathered down in Irvine last week to show off their basketball teams to the awaiting world, or at least the world south of Westwood. As suggested above the 49ers, especially from late December on when 6-9 man mountain Onye Ibekwe becomes eligible, will be better. That’s the good news, the not so good news competing BWC teams are improving too.

The Best of the Big West is supposed to be Pacific but history says Utah State will take one more crown on their way out of town. USU heads to the WAC next season and that reminded me of UNLV (1991), San Jose State (1996) and New Mexico State (1999) who also won and ran.

USU is led by the two time BWC Hustle of the Year award winner Spencer Nelson, a senior (and almost a senior citizen at 24 years, four months) and a quotable fellow. On his resume academic all-Big West, Most Inspirational Player and, over the weekend, 21 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists as USU routed Puget Sound 125-72.

And now some Spencerisms, “I am really glad hockey is on strike…now I can watch all of Sports Center.” How about football playoffs, “Heck yes, those guys wouldn’t be doing anything else in December.” And finally how is life on the road in the Big West? “Well after you play in front of 10,000 in Logan 400 in Fullerton doesn’t bother you.” Agreed.

We wrap up with a non-basketball note from the Big West gabfest. I shared an elevator with a high ranking UCI Administrator who talked about the upcoming visit of the volleyballing Anteaters to the Pyramid. “You know we almost swept Long Beach at our place and I think we can do it in three at their place. You know Brian (Gimmillaro) will have a better team next year.” Note to source, LB 3, Irvine 1 and yes the 2005 Beach team will be even better but they ain’t bad this year. Check ‘em out yourself when UCSB and Cal Poly visit Friday and Saturday.--DR. DAN


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