Monday, September 29, 2008


One of the ironies of college athletics is that players, coaches and fans struggle mightily for recognition which, when obtained, is used against them. Case in point: Last week as Pacific (1-8 coming into their volleyball contest with Long Beach) painted the bull’s-eye on Brian Gimmillaro’s Beach girls.

The Tiger marketers upped the ante with freebees that lured in the often laconic UOP students, brought in Tiger alum Jennifer Joines, a four-time All-American and Olympic silver medalist, and then retired her No. 6 jersey. The result, the home girls swept the 22nd ranked Niners in front of almost 2,000 and oddly sit tied for first in the Big West while Gimmillaro’s kids are in fifth.

Meanwhile back in the blue building with the pointed roof, LBSU coaches are back to the drawing boards trying to tweak a line-up that in a word, okay two words, is not tall. NCAA banners in the rafters yes, great alums, you bet, nice facility, perfect for WVB, but in 2008 somewhat vertically challenged.

Last add taking shots, when Pacific retired that number six jersey they must have forgot that their freshmen setter, Arielle Goldberg, was sitting on the bench with that very same digit on her uniform. And on their chat board a young lady named Casey gloated about beating the “Dirtbags” saying she “couldn't resist the jab even though I know that that moniker typically only applies to LBSU baseball.” Better quit while you are ahead Casey, your baseball team was 14-41 last year.

One more shot from the WVB road trip. Smelling blood from the Thursday sinking at Stockton, UC Davis asked their “Aggie Pack” to come out in full force for the volley match with the Big West standard bearers, LBSU. They did as 2,102 fans watched their women's volleyball team take Long Beach State to five sets at the Davis Pavilion.

In the campus paper their coach gushed, "That was so special," head coach Jamie Holmes said. "That meant a lot to me as a coach, and I know it meant the world to them as players.… It kind of brought tears to my eyes, actually." Like Pacific, the UCD admins weren’t shy about bribing their students, the Aggie Pack events come complete with free T-shirts, tube socks and blue and gold beads.

Back to baseball, one of the featured student athlete speakers at the Donor dinner last week was Dirtbag relief pitcher Adam Wilk. He seemed a bit nervous prompting retired golf coach and fellow donor Bob Livingstone to quip, “Cut the kid some slack, he is used to looking down at the catcher and getting signs!”

Another diamond note is about the new five year contract for Mike Weathers, likely awarded in large part by his success with the new coaching standard, the Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores. More and more the APR is being used to hire, fire and pay coaches. Mississippi State recently restructured the contracts of its football, men's basketball and baseball coaches with language that says if the NCAA bans a team from the postseason because of low APR numbers, there is a clause in each contract that allows Mississippi State to fire the coach. On the plus side, some schools offer bonuses that can reach six figures if teams receive “acceptable” scores.

NAME DROP DUST—I sat at UCI a couple of years ago with a seldom played USC quarterback who was watching his Anteater brother star on the diamond. That would be New England’s NFL surprise Matt Cassel who made his “show” a lot sooner than his brother Justin who has gotten as high as AA. Sister Amanda is a student at LBSU.
Just as in 2007, the Beach baseball program has a real shot at another Rookie of the Year with Evan Longoria. Troy Tulowitzki just missed last season. Tulo will be the keynote speaker at the Leadoff Dinner in February and the team will salute the 20th anniversary of their first CWS team early in the season.

Next LB infield star heading to the bigs, try Shane Peterson who drove in a pair of runs as the Batavia Muckdogs (St. Louis affiliate) beat the Jamestown Jammers, 9-3, to capture the New York-Penn League title. "It was pretty much the most gratifying experience I've ever had," said Peterson. "I know it's only short-season and 80 games, but it felt like it was what we worked for as a team.”

Upcoming stuff is the news that the 49er soccer team has finished making their out of state house calls and begins conference play Friday, hosting UC Davis at George Allen Field. All in all the Beach booters did well despite losing a 1-0 deal Sunday at Arizona State (they shut out Arizona on Friday.) It was the 49ers' third 1-0 loss of the season but LBSU played the Devils even; taking nine shots to ASU’s eight.

Our closing quote today comes from an anonymous Congressman. “I'm declaring myself conductor of this meeting as I have the bribe sheet." We now return you to your regularly-scheduled program of economy watching, Christmas shopping and dancing with Misty May.—DR. DAN

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Notes on my napkin while navigating the road closure signs on the CSULB campus. Everywhere you look at 49erville there is something under construction: places, people and things.

On the Palo Verde side is the brand-spanking new Rhodes Tennis Complex with the Hendricks Family Scoreboard and sometime soon, we hope, the Dr. Dan Sound System. The gifting levels of the above vary widely but hopefully the experience in the facility will approach the level of the competitors who will use it.

Across the construction fence from the courts will rise the $70 million Student Recreation and Wellness Center with ground breaking this winter and kids flying around in a healthy manner by fall 2010. The plans include a specialized fast-track construction method but the project has to await the completion of the next parking structure on the campus corner near Atherton since the new building will eat up surface parking spaces.

There is also a lot of hammering around the swimming pool but the grand design of new soccer and track facilities and improvements to softball is still hush-hush.

Now from the places “under construction” to the people - namely the volleyball, soccer and basketball teams. We start with the volley ladies who added some Special C to their program, freshmen Cat Highmark and Caitlan Ledoux who are a huge part of a youth movement that led the Niners last weekend to a perfect 3-0 in the LBSU tournament. A bonus for the Beach faithful was a visit, including silver medal, by Tayyiba Haneef-Park voted the best female volleyball player in the world, who posed for pictures then went home for her favorite meal, Dad’s pasta.

The Niner coach, Brian Gimmillaro, is having to really earn his cookies this year, he has more speed and defense but less offense. The Beach is on the road the next two weekends with a tour of Florida this weekend (Florida State, Florida A&M and Florida) and then to Boston the following weekend for a spelling bee with Harvard, Dartmouth and American.

Soccer returned from paradise, i.e. Hawaii, after roaring back to upset the host Wahine 4-3 and settling for a 0-0 overtime tie with 23rd ranked Denver. LB faces Harvard on campus Friday at 4:30 and then Sunday afternoon plays UNLV. Their skipper, Mauricio Ingrassia, has shuffled goalies rotating seniors Liz Ramos and Breanna Breedlove but finding playing time for frosh superstars Lindsay Bullock and Shawna Gordon.

Going inside it is eerily quiet on the ladies hoop front but almost wild in anticipation of year two of the Dan Monson era. Over the weekend LBSU scoring leader Donavan Morris (21.2 ppg last year on a team that won six games) actually had me convinced that he welcomes another talented gunner, Stephan Gilling, the red shirt shooter from Colorado State, and super preps Eugene Phelps and Casper Ware. “It’s finally going to be fun”, Morris said.

ROUND-UP DUST—Gathered these gems from here and there. “You know it’s a strange baseball season when Madonna has become a part of it”…unrelated, former Dirtbag Chuck Lopez got married at Blair last weekend….the worst two words in sports these days are “luxury box.”…my old West Virginia home town, Parkersburg, was the #2 sports town in the USA sayeth ESPN.

President Alexander and I are down for a NCAA-compliant friendly bet this weekend, I have my alma mater Miami and he has his old employer, Florida. You see King’s parents both worked on the UF campus in Gainesville and as a lad “I sold Cokes for seven years in their football stadium.” Fast forward on the sports and money beat, I predict that one day Alexander will become president of the NCAA and (since the current NCAA chief, Myles Brand, earned $935,000 in 2006-07)it wouldn’t be a pay cut from either his days in Gator concessions or Brotman Hall.

Two more hoop highlights are 6'7" incoming studs Larry Anderson and T.J. Robinson. Now remembering Mr. Morris and all Freshmen team member Greg Plater with some productivity from the post the good old days may be the good new days.

Remembering the really old days, here is a Don Dyer grid iron moment. LB AD ViC Cegles jetted back east last Saturday for the football opener of his son’s Towson State Tigers who played at the Naval Academy. Navy won the game but son Casey Cegles caught six passes for 98 yards. This weekend is the Tigers' home opener when they play Morgan State at Johnny Unitas Stadium and debut a new 47-foot wide Daktronics HD video board. Hey Vic, I wonder if they have one that bleeds black and gold?

Speaking of LB colors, recently departed SID boss Steve Janisch (likely still driving through Texas as you read this) is enroute to Florida after an over flow crowd at Legend’s saluted his talent and leadership. Steve’s service to LBSU actually began in the brown and gold era and included hand holding of such coaching luminaries as George Allen, Joan Bonvicini and Brian Gimmillaro not to mention the usually irascible local and out of town press corp.

Where are theys—former track coach and fitness guru George Mehale, an all American distance runner in his college days at UTEP, stopped by the Long Beach Century Club with a couple of his L.B.C.C. Cross-country athletes, Doug Curran from Wilson and Leroy Zion from Poly. His take on the Olympic marathoners is that that the Africans are so far ahead of the rest of the world due to their "training"...beginning when they start walking to school - three miles each way - both uphill”.

Last add people and places. Women’s hoop Coach Mary Hegarty has completed her staff, naming Michelle Erickson, JV coach at Mater Dei High as the team's Director of Operations joining Jackie Zink, an intern at Stanford, as new members of the Niner coaching staff for the 2008-09 season.

Closing quote in the Olympic spirit. The Miami Herald’s Michelle Kaufman reports, “Spain’s tennis star Rafael Nadal, Chinese hero Yao Ming, German NBA star Dirk Nowitzki and Argentine soccer hero Lionel Messi, turned down posh hotel digs to slum it with kayakers and archers in the Athletes Village. They shared apartments, ate in the dining hall, took buses to venues and passed free time in the Internet café and game room.” That’s better than all the fussing and fighting.—DR. DAN