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Small Colleges / Alan Drooz : Tournament Hit by Controversy Before Its Time

Postseason basketball tournaments have become fashionable among major college conferences, and this season the Division II California Collegiate Athletic Assn. will get into the act.

In the CCAA’s case, the tournament is seen more as a vehicle to showcase the league and get multiple representation in the NCAA tournament than as a moneymaker. Some of the league’s athletic directors say it will be an unexpected bonus if the tournament ends up in the black.

Most of the coaches and athletic directors appear to favor the tournament, which will have the top four men’s and women’s teams at the site of the men’s CCAA winner. There are, however, pockets of opposition in Bakersfield and Pomona, where women’s Coach Darlene May has built one of the country’s most powerful programs and isn’t happy about the prospect of playing on the road even if she wins the league title.

That’s a distinct possibility, since the Pomona men’s team is expected to have a battle just to make the upper division. Cal State Los Angeles and Cal State Bakersfield are the early favorites, with Cal State Dominguez Hills another strong entry.

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That means that Pomona, the defending national women’s champion, might have to travel to Bakersfield, which doesn’t even have a women’s team.

May said she could accept a well-planned tournament that gives the league winner some advantage--particularly the home court--but isn’t happy with the current format.

“I feel like we were completely ramrodded,” she said. “I think they completely overlooked the women to appease the men. I see their thinking . . . but I think it’s very poor to have no advantage for winning.”

May also said that she was told in June, after filling her schedule, that she would have to cancel a game to accommodate the tournament.

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“It’s very poor relations,” she said. “I think we (women) have proven we’re good enough to draw and don’t need to be on the shirttails of the men. (League officials) know how I feel. I proposed a different format where we would play at the highest-ranked team’s home. But they’re going to go to San Luis Obispo or Bakersfield or all over. I think they’re going to eat it financially. I’m bitter.”

May said that the final irony for the women is that the CCAA “will automatically get two bids, maybe three, to the NCAAs. What do we need a tournament for?”

Another strong detractor is Coach Jim Parks of Bakersfield men’s team, who characterized the tournament as poorly thought out and not beneficial to the league. Parks said a tournament without a television contract is doomed to financial failure.

His suggestion? Let the champion sit out the tournament and go to the NCAA tournament while the others play for second and a possible playoff berth. Otherwise, he said, “It’s just more games, more pressure, one more chance to end the season on a sour note if you have one bad game. I personally don’t see how this benefits the athletes.”

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Conference President Dennis Keihn, athletic director at Cal State L.A., said that most of the coaches and athletic directors are in favor of the tournament and that he thinks it will help maintain interest throughout the season. “It will get us a little more publicity and keep up interest on campuses more. In the long run it might generate some revenue to put in the conference pot,” he said.

Keihn said those unhappy with the tournament disapprove more of the format than the tournament itself and added, “We tried to explain that it doesn’t mean this will be the format for next year. There’s nothing in concrete. Maybe we’ll find it would be better to hold a separate tournament for women. We had to start somewhere.”

Azusa Pacific will have its most competitive period of the season this weekend. Its undefeated football team will play San Francisco State Saturday, and the soccer and women’s volleyball teams will begin playoffs.

The football team (7-0) considers San Francisco its toughest opponent to date despite its 3-4 record. Running back Christian Okoye has 1,060 yards and needs 73 to set a school record for a single season.

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The soccer team (12-6-1) will open playoffs against either Westmont or top-seeded Fresno Pacific depending on the outcome of Wednesday’s game against Point Loma. The volleyball team (13-13) will start its playoff schedule at St. Mary’s Friday against Westmont.

The women’s cross-country team won its first NAIA District III championship and will run in the national meet at Kenosha, Wis., Nov. 16. Junior Judy Thomas was district titlist.

Biola’s volleyball team (24-4) also opens playoffs at St. Mary’s against Westmont and will probably be seeded second behind the host Gaels. Becky Miller leads the nation in kills with 5.13 a game. Biola’s soccer team (11-8-1) will start playoffs Saturday against an opponent to be determined Wednesday.

Murphy’s Law Department: Cal Poly Pomona women’s soccer team lost a 1-0 game to UC Irvine last week but had to feel lucky to get out alive. First Sherry Heinbaugh suffered food poisoning and was unable to play. Then Michele Fulton, a veteran of 25 minutes all season, suffered a knee injury and had to leave the game. That forced Cathy Crider, who was supposed to sit out with a pulled leg muscle and shin splints, into action. Finally, Kim Ross, who is allergic to bee stings, was stung by one and had to be rushed to the hospital. Despite all the problems it was a scoreless game until the final minute.

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“We made a gallant effort in the face of strong adversity,” Coach Brian Wiesner said.

College Notes Frank Cubillos scored both goals, giving him 14 for the season, as Cal State Northridge clinched the CCAA soccer title with a 2-0 victory over Chapman. The shutout was goalie Phil Heaver’s 10th of the season. The Matadors will learn their playoff schedule by the weekend. . . . Santa Clara sophomore quarterback Greg Calcagno, who will be playing Saturday at Northridge, completed 21 of 25 passes for 429 yards and 6 touchdowns last Saturday against San Francisco State. . . . Cal State Los Angeles broke a school record by scoring 26 goals in a water polo victory against Chapman. Senior Don Wetteland scored four of them, and holds the school record of 65 for a career. . . . The CCAA will have several of the top teams in Saturday’s Western Regional cross-country meet in Rockland. San Luis Obispo’s men are rated third nationally and its women first. Pomona’s men are fourth and its women sixth. Northridge’s women are ranked fourth. The top four teams qualify for the national meet. . . . After five games, Pomona-Pitzer quarterback Rob Bristow held the school season record for pass completions with 161 in 252 attempts. . . . Cal Poly Pomona’s men’s basketball team will have an intrasquad scrimmage at Don Lugo High in Chino Friday at 3 p.m. It will be free to the public. . . . John Price has been named men’s volleyball coach at Cal State Northridge, allowing Walt Ker to devote full time to the women’s team. . . . Gary Cain has been named assistant men’s basketball coach at Cal State L.A. The former head coach at Centennial High rejoins his old high school coach, Jim Newman.


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