Wednesday, February 04, 2009


In the glory days of TV there was a super hero in a sweater named Fred Rogers who ruled his neighborhood of young kids. Saturday Night Live comic Eddie Murphy updated the idea with his skit, “Mister Robinson's Neighborhood” and now Long Beach State basketball is hoping that their superb freshman, T.J. Robinson, will lead his young pals back to the glory days of 49er hoops.

Faced with filling in for ailing Big West MVP candidate Donavan Morris, T.J. led four Long Beach State players in double figures with a career-high 20 points and 10 rebounds and the surprising Beach boys beat UC Irvine 67-63 Saturday night and still sit in first place half way around the track. More youth movement, freshman Larry Anderson scored 11 points and the team got 10 points and three assists from freshman Casper Ware.

Fast forward to the future, Dan Monson had a full house of his Maniacs hopping last Thursday but still fell a point short of Fullerton. This Thursday LB opens a two game home stand playing UC Davis and Pacific in a battle for the regular season crown or at least one of those tournament byes that go to the top two finishers. With or without Morris the neighborhood under the blue pointed roof ought to be rocking.

Speaking of rocks, and acorns and other sticks and stones, don’t expect to see any of them when Beach tennis opens its home season in the brand new Rhodes tennis center Friday at 2 p.m. vs. Florida International. For the last umpteen years the overhanging trees and busy road next door made the courts a real adventure for visitors and the home team.

There are still some final touches to be made but Jenny Hilt-Costello and her net queens finally can be proud of their home. New scoreboard, sound system, seating, lights and fresh off of a 6-1 rout of #49 NC State and ready to build on their total of six Big West titles and six NCAA appearances.

CALANDER GIRLS AND BOYS—the Beach week starts on Thursday when the Pyramid features men’s basketball and women’s water polo hosts UCLA. Men’s volleyball, track and women’s basketball are on the road. Beach softball is in the desert for a five game tourney beginning Friday morning. On Saturday tennis makes the short run to CSUF for a match with the hapless Titans, usually a result so quick you can park in the 30 minute free zones.

Play Misty for me—the talented Miss M says she is planning on returning to the pro beach tour and maybe one more session of “Dancing with the Stars.” With the NCAA ready to add "sand" volleyball to their sports menu, some folks hope Misty would coach that the two woman game at LBSU but insiders say that’s not likely.

For more drama, check out the student fee referendum coming up next week. The measure would raises fees from the current $43 per semester to $138 starting in fall 2010. Athletics would get a $1.6 million boost and there is a built-in increase for inflation. Voting is exclusively on line.

Last add money stuff. Men’s and women’s golf on Monday will be conducting a golf marathon aiming to play 100 Bixby Ranch holes in one long day. Former track star Wayne Stickney-Smith, the godfather of the last big student money raiser Beach Pride, is the guy to sign up with. Call 562-985-4662.

NOTES ON MY NAPKIN AND SOME DIAMOND MINING--One of my Dust posse asked me about the 2009 Dirtbags. I don't know what to expect from this team. They still have Jonathan Jones, but I want to see what their lineup looks like. It could be a long season or it could turn out to be a surprising one. Too many unknowns right now to get a real feel. (Governor Palin taught me how to dance around these tough questions)…the BWC decided to kick some sand in the face of the Beach Bags, picking them fourth after their 2008 co-championship...11 players from that team went in the MLB draft, a record haul for the Dirtbags, but adding fuel to the fire that LBSU trains more pros than they get wins in the post-season...see for yourself by going to Alumni Weekend starting with the Leadoff Dinner Thursday night featuring Troy Tulowitzki, the 8th annual alumni golf tournament tees off on Friday and it is all capped with the alumni game and intra-squad scrimmage at Blair Field on Saturday starting at 11 am….the real season starts off on February 20, with the Dirtbag home opener coming the next day, February 21 at 2 p.m. against USC.
Now the queens of the diamond are Kim Sowder’s surging 49er softballers…they get busy Friday morning facing SEC power Georgia during this weekend's Cathedral City Classic…the Beach offense is still fuzzy but the pitching is so strong you can almost agree to wait on the hitters to step up…the aces are soph Brooke Turner (27-6, 0.80 ERA, 237 strikeouts), junior Bridgette Pagano (a two-time all-conference pick who was 13-11 last season with a 2.39 ERA and 87 Ks) plus super freshman Taylor Petty, the three-time L.A. City Section Player of the Year at San Pedro High…

Now we dare not presume a home win (LB is 3-0 in conference on the road) but a couple of Ws this week would virtually guarantee a postseason tournament appearance in one of the four, count ‘em, four Division I postseason college basketball tournaments…the Tournament will feature a 16-team field chosen from among the teams that don't make the NCAA Tournament or National Invitation Tournament. Then there is the Gazelle Group's College Basketball Invitational, or CBI, which debuted last year. Tulsa won the inaugural CBI title although even folks in Oklahoma don’t remember…in summary, 129 college basketball teams will participate in some postseason this year…get your face paint ready.

Finally our closing quote from a heckler at a recent LBSU basketball game. In a rather calm voice, a Monson Maniac told one of the UCR players: "Your tattoos are not well-done!"—DR. DAN


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