Sunday, October 30, 2005

Notes on a napkin still wet from Wilma

Greetings from the deep and drying out South. This once a month schedule makes column-izing challenging--sorting out, tossing out and resetting the table.

The items that follow are diverse and flavored by the view from a safe distance, Florida, but enhanced by my CIA operatives still around town

We start with college football, skipping pro football since there is nothing with-in a tank of gas from Second Street.

The college set down here of course has fascination with USC and UCLA and the Pac 10 but are skeptical, largely based on strength of schedule. They note a new national college football wire has the Pac 10 as only the fifth best conference in the USA—behind, in order the ACC, Big Ten, SEC and the Big 12. Don’t shoot the messenger.

CSU chancellor Charles Reed, in the news with the naming of a new LBSU president, was a student-athlete at George Washington University. That is background to the information that Reed he has a background with the family of his new Niner leader King Alexander who comes to the Beach from Murray State where they have a full menu of sports, basketball being a consistent point of pride.

Basketball here of course is said to have so worried the 49er faithful that it forced the early departure of an athletic director and, perhaps, a president. The new guy followed his father, Kern Alexander, a distinguished scholar in the area of international banking, as president of Murray State. The Reed connection goes back to Dad’s 17 year career as an educational finance expert in Florida including time as a top advisor, along with Chancellor Reed, to then Florida Governor Robert Graham. And to close the sporting circle, job one for a chancellor in Florida is to meet and greet the movers and shakers at some sort or game or contest. Expect the same.

While nobody in the Big West is sending shivers down the net of the 2005 NCAA volleyball elite, the run for the conference crown is a three way race and the spoiler for one or more teams will be Pacific, unless the Tigers beat everybody and win the crown themselves. SLO, UCSB and of course the Beach all go to Stockton early this month.
I do miss being in the Mid during volleyball matches but the inter-net broadcasters leave their mike open during time outs and you can hear fans in the stands and Smitty on press row just as if I was there myself.
I know that the college to pro to college chat is surrounding Pete Carroll these days but the guy they call Darth Visor down south, Steve Spurrier, appears ready to lift the other USC, South Carolina, off the mat and playing ranked teams to boot. The Gamecocks gutted out a win at Tennessee over the weekend.

Still skinning the pig, I wonder if Air Force coaches now feel that those BYU kids run faster because they have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir piped into the dressing room?

It is easy to enjoy the spikes and blocks of the big people but the amazing play of the queen of the backcourt, Heather Laudato, is the glue that keeps Niner volleyball together during the tough times. A senior on a team of baby-boomers, Heather might just lead this bunch to the sweet sixteen this year.

Last add, board gaming. How about that chess match in the Mid Saturday night featuring Brian Gimmillaro and Kathy Gregory. More combined trips to the scorer’s table than trick or treaters at your front door. Oh yes, I know Brian and the Queen brought teams with them but I would buy a ticket to see these two characters play tidily winks at center court. Great competitors who hold nothing back.--DR. DAN.

Friday, October 07, 2005


Mauricio Ingrassia is in season two at Long Beach State. Brian Gimmillaro
is in season 21. A couple of decades of difference on the job, but for the
fall sports fanatics at Long Beach the guys with all the vowels provide the
high hopes for 49er fandom.

With both of the basketballs in a rebuilding mode, the hot stove league
chatter these days are about how quickly soccer is building toward glory and
if volleyball can return to glory.

The teams each feature a lot of young faces, but other comparisons are
equally interesting. Both men are more or less home town heroes Ingrassia
graduated from CS Fullerton in 1995 with a degree in psychology, had modest
credentials as a player, is married to a model-like wife, Erin, has a
daughter, Madison and lives a long corner kick from campus. Brian graduated
from Long Beach State in 1970 with a degree in Economics, played for fun on
Belmont Shore weekends. also has a model-like wife Dania, a son, Stefan, and
daughter, Lauren and lives a long over serve from the Pyramid.

Put either coach on the dais of a sports assembly and they come off
handsome, erudite, charming, optimistic and home town happy. Brian has
what he has said are almost perfect facilities, an office suite worthy of
Donald Trump, camps, and clinics and of course the Pyramid. The combined
income makes him almost impossible to lure to say Texas.

Mauricio is of course on the front end of his career and his creature
comforts are clearly primitive. "We have some plans that we hope to get up
and running to make a little stadium, the potential is here, but the
facilities.." And his voice politely trains off. The Beach backers gather
on wobbly metal bleachers on one side of the discarded former football
practice field but the young talent on the pitch may well light the fire for
financial fixes.

Meanwhile back inside, the Gimmillaro insiders in his kitchen cabinet admit
that the recruiting went blank a few years but is on a roll now. Will the
Final Four trips resume? Development of the new kids and the health of the
old kids will have a lot to say about that. In soccer, the early returns
are already higher than expectations and making the Big West post-season now
seems like a reasonable expectation. The new guard can learn from the old
guard, but then again maybe they can teach the old dog some new tricks.

MIXED DUST-How nice that Mike Gallo will taste some post season with his
Astros and how huge was the comeback year of Jason Giambi, the power supply
behind yet another Yankee sprint to the finish line.

Ingrassia's current recruiting class is ranked 15th nationally, four of his
incoming freshmen are amongst the nation's top-100 recruits and next year
will also land some big name blue ribbon booters. Ditto for the 2006 WVB

Back here in Florida at the sports bars, you get the feeling that USC is a
not really popular south of the Mason Dixon line. At halftime last Saturday
the local bar flies were figuring out who would be the new number one. Then
the Cardinal and Gold released the twin Trojan horses, White and Bush, and
that was that.

Closing with a session of Palm piloting. Both the volleys and the soccers
are back at or near home this weekend, Maurcio's kickers begin a four-match
home stand on Friday when they host nationally-ranked Cal Poly and Brian's
queens of the spike play at UC Irvine Thursday and at CSUN Friday.

The Niner Hall of Fame golfers did their thing on Monday with the meet,
greet and eat with the Hall of Fame class of 2005 will be inducted October
20 at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach and at least one speaker will conclude
their remarks with a hearty "GO BEACH"-DR. DAN