Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Welcome to another edition of Notes and Numbers on My Napkin and just in time to reflect on season-enders for soccer and volleyball.

First up is a look back at how soccer’s Lady 49ers dominated Cal Poly 21-to-3 in Big West goal attempts but two of those three SLO shots counted to give the Mustangs the victory. The 49ers had beaten the SLO just a week earlier, 3-1, knocking them out of the title chase but with post season on the line the Beach booters came up short and/or wide.

My point, and I used to cringe as a pre-computer era score-keeper for Beach sports, is that maybe “stats are for losers”. That comment used to rankle me right up there with locals calling CSULB “state college”, as if it was on equal educational status with “city college”, but maybe it is true. Enough whining.

Our next backward glance is for Brian Gimmillaros’ sweethearts of spike, who fought the injury bug again in 2007 but still posted a record of 26-7. All seven losses came to ranked teams--they took USC to five games and had a season ending win over top ten Florida. Need proof that Gator volleyball sets a high bar, then consider this quote from UF’s football coach, Urban Meyer, after the Gators won back to back national basketball championships.

“If somebody says, 'Do you feel like you are coaching at a basketball school now?', I keep saying that darn volleyball coach (Mary Wise) thinks it is a volleyball school because all they do is win 16 straight SEC championships."

Now I know those fans I call the LBSU sideline scorpions don’t always agree, but over time you have to appreciate a team that continues to hang up good numbers year in and year out. Brian may not always land the top preps these days but two of his bounce-backs, Taylaya Whitfield out of TCU and Cynthia Buggs via Tennessee, were outstanding. Whitfield finished with 32 digs Saturday night and Buggs delivered a career-high 19 digs in her final collegiate match.

Obviously the team will sorely miss the amazing Alexis Crimes but on Saturday night she controlled the net largely because of the work of fab freshman Ashley Lee. They both finished with double-doubles in digs and kills, 20 digs for Lee to go with 17 kills and 14 digs and 24 kills for Crimes. Next year, Lee’s squad will add some hot recruits plus return a couple of key vets, hitter Quincy Verdin and setter Nicole Vargas.

Last add numbers, Dirtbag baseball fans enter the winter confident that the Beach will once again have great pitching and defense and question marks all over the offense. The Niners were just picked by a national rating service as the third best program on the West Coast and every series is circled on the other team’s calendar.

Last add dates. The 2008 LBSU season opens February 22 with two former national champions coming to Blair, first a weekend with Rice then a weekend with Wichita State. Whether or not you agree with the house view that the Dirtbags (39-20) overachieved in 2007, they are deep in the bull pen and pitching will be even more important from now on with the compressed season featuring 14 mid week games.

The Niners lose only two position players of note, Robert Perry and Matt Cline. Key guys coming back are catcher Travis Howell, Cape Cod all star Shane Peterson, team USA participant Danny Espinosa and versatile Brandon Godfrey who shook off injuries to hit .333 in 44 games. If the hitters can match the pitchers, 2008 could be the time when the homeboys once again earn some miles on that Road to Omaha.

DUSTING THE 2007IN-BOX-It is for many folks, especially the PAC 10 posse, a big case of B(C)S…they think the conference was short changed about five mill with Arizona State getting left out but how could their home town Fiestans pass up live bucks from the mid west in favor of locals who even when they travel bring the Ten Commandments and a Ten Dollar bill and try not to break either one…their own bean counters said that last year they got $400 million in tourist for USC, they did win over UCLA on the scoreboard but not on the style-board…staying local, my first up close and personal meeting with Karl Dorrell was in baggage claim at LAX. While we stared at the luggage carousel I had a feeling that the UCLA football boss might be on the coaching carousel before his LA days would end. You see it was the night of the BCS championship game and although I had a good excuse for air travel that day I was stunned when Karl didn’t know when the game was on or any of the details I was seeking. Guess he will have time to watch this year…down south they are wondering about Kansas vs. my brother’s alma mater, Virginia Tech but KU took 30,000 down to the Fort Worth bowl two years for you folks with sporting types on your Christmas shopping lists I have two suggestions for you. The first is to buy a round of golf on Monday, January 21st, 2008 to support 49er golf. The play will be at prestigious Virginia Country Club and the clinic will feature two current PGA Tour and Niner alums Paul Goydos and John Mallinger. The ticket is $300 a pop but you eat drink and swing with the best and maybe find that live gin game in the men’s locker room…can’t wait until then and want a nice 2007 tax deduction then good guy Bruce Mac Rae has made available to Men's Volleyball their company suite of 8 seats for the Van Halen Concert, Saturday Night, December 15th at Staples Center. The $1,000 donation for each seat includes food and drink provided by Pepsi and a great seat for the concert. Call Pat West at 562-985-4662 for one or both and ask to sit next to me…as you might have guessed I am still being held as a hostage in Florida but that means I get to enjoy the color commentary of former Niner Grant Stone on the men’s hoop webcasts. Perhaps the symbolic moment in the 25 point win over LMU, and maybe a high water mark for the first month of Monson mania, occurred at 3:56 mark when a rugby scrum broke out and four of the five Beach boys hit the deck chasing the pumpkin. You haven’t seen that in the last 10 or so seasons. Add in some nifty screens and ball movement and you get the feeling this thing might really work…staying complimentary with our closing quote, it was USC volleyball coach Mick Haley who praised the Niner VB team last Saturday. "Well wow, heck of a match. Long Beach played great. They were 6-1 in 5 game matches this year and we were 6-0. So when we got to that fifth game it was really special because there was 12-1 with both teams…I thought both teams really competed. If you were a spectator at this match you really could not help the intensity of both teams. We are really proud to be able to represent this area to go to the Regionals. Either team would do a good job for sure…” back at you in the new year.–DR. DAN