Sunday, November 27, 2005


Today’s message machine edition of the Dust brings you almost-verbatim transcripts and my exclusive translations of recently unanswered phone calls to the sporting persons in and around the Pyramid.

Call number one was to fall volleyball boss Brian Gimmillaro. “We are unable to take your call at this time however; you obviously know that the NCAA doesn’t like us much anymore. We must travel all the way to UCLA Friday night for the early match which shuts me out of my favorite Westwood Italian restaurant. Leave your message at the sound of the first whistle.”

Translated, the 49ers Ladies of the Spike locked up the automatic NCAA tourney bid but face a confident and tough first round opponent in San Diego. The Niners lost to USD back in mid September at some place called the Jenny Craig Pavilion. Wasn’t she a country singer? Anyhow, USD won that contest 3-1 when the Beach got off to a nightmare start losing the first game 30-18 and hitting .000. They won game two but then folded their beach chairs the rest of the night.

The difference this weekend is in September Ali Daley was just a pup without much punch. As she goes this weekend (along with monsters in the middle Alexis Crimes and Erika Chidester) so goes her team. Last weekend the Niners won two matches in their own tourney but lost to the passport and pass happy Lady Rattlers of Florida A & M. The mostly foreign players got the W but like LB got no love from the seedings being sent to the regional at #8 Florida. UCSB got an equally tough first round facing host and #12 seed USC. A silver lining for the Niners--if they get to the title game on Saturday all the Bruin fans will still be stuck in the traffic coming from the Coliseum football thing with USC.

Our next call was to our secret agent embedded inside men’s basketball who apparently forgot to update his message from his last job on the Titanic. “Thanks for calling. I am so sorry we are out of lifejackets. Leave your number and I’ll call you when I get on dry land.” Since we wanted to know about the fragile health of the LBSU’s athletic cash cow we wondered if that dry land would be seen this season. After nasty excursions to Las Vegas and Berkeley the Larry and the Beach Boys feasted on Gators from D-2 SF State Sunday and now go north to play at Portland and Sac State Saturday and Monday. Winnable games—sure, but that’s what the home teams think too.

Our next call was to my pal Mary, one of the great ladies basketball coaches on the west coast. Well I have two pal Mary’s, our home hoop mistress Mary Hegarty and the ex-Niner assistant and now USF head coach Mary Hile-Nepfel. I wanted to hear that USF, into its 30th anniversary season and already playing two top 25 teams tough, was trembling at the thought of facing Hegarty’s lock-down defensive Beach bunch after LB wins over Southern Cal and Richmond. Back to SF Mary’s message, “Thanks for calling, if you are 6’6” and can run or at least walk fast I’ll get right back to you. If not, my husband will follow up.”

Our last message and closing quote comes from the captain of the spunky but not really hunky Niners basketball team, Jayme Connors. Asked about playing taller teams like Richmond, she said, “It was funny, because during the national anthem, we were looking and I said, "You know, they're pretty big,, When they're taller, you've just got to do a better job of moving them out, getting them out of there so you have more room to get the ball." --DR. DAN.