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College Division / Mitch Polin : CS Bakersfield Is an Early Surprise

Perhaps it is appropriate to label Cal State Bakersfield, which is tied for first place with UC Riverside at 4-1, as one of the early-season surprises in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. men’s basketball race.

In a preseason poll of coaches and sports information directors, Bakersfield was picked to finish fourth in the CCAA. The Roadrunners had only two starters returning from a team that finished in sixth place in the conference the season before, and they had a new coach.

Then again, maybe the success should not be so surprising.

That’s because first-year coach Pat Douglass has made a habit of winning at the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. Division II level in the past.

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In six years as coach of Eastern Montana in Billings, Douglass’ record was 119-58. He guided his team into the Division II playoffs four times. The best was last season, when Eastern Montana reached the Division II final four for the first time.

With that in mind, why would the 38-year-old Douglass want to leave a successful program to come to Bakersfield?

“I’m originally from California and I wanted to get back home--or at least closer to home for me,” Douglass said. " . . . Professionally, the people (at Eastern Montana) were nice to work with, but personally I wanted to make a change to a place that was back in California.

“Bakersfield was a good program that was centrally located. It was also close to family, and the team gets a lot of media attention,” added the coach, whose mother lives in Victorville and who has other relatives in the area. We’ve also gotten university status and they’re building a new facility, so I think it was an ideal situation.”

But Douglass admits that the early success of the Roadrunners (12-6) has taken him by surprise.

“We’ve accomplished a lot more than I thought we could to this date,” he said. “Anything else we accomplish after this date will be that much nicer.

” . . . I didn’t know what to expect because we had a lot of new faces and we got off to a slow start. But the kids have played well recently and we’ve picked up since the start of conference.”

In fact, the Roadrunners have been the hottest team in the conference for the last month. Bakersfield has won 9 of its last 10 games and would have a lengthy win streak if not for a 50-49 loss to Cal State Northridge in a CCAA game last week.

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Bakersfield has been led by junior forwards Troy Price and Fred Jones, who went into last week’s games leading the conference with a 70.7% field goal percentage. Both are among the leading scorers in the conference. Price is averaging 17.4 points a game and Jones is averaging 16.7.

The Roadrunners also have a good sophomore guard in 6-foot 2-inch Ray Burris. But, like most coaches, Douglass stresses the team over individuals.

Douglass attributes much of his coaching success to the late Dick Edwards, who coached him when he played guard at the University of Pacific from 1968 through 1972. After coaching at Pacific, Edwards went on to coach California and Eastern Montana before he died of a heart attack during the 1979-80 season.

During the first half of the season, 6-foot 10-inch senior center John Hilbig’s statistics may have mirrored the struggles of the Azusa Pacific men’s basketball team.

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Hilbig was averaging 4.4 points and 4.4 rebounds for the 2-13 team.

But Hilbig has been on a tear since the start of the Golden State Athletic Conference season, and so have the Cougars (8-14), who entered this week tied with Cal Lutheran for first in the conference with a 5-1 record.

In conference games, Hilbig is averaging 12 points and 9.2 rebounds and has made 90.6% of his shots. He had a recent streak of 16 consecutive field goals, only to see it end when he missed a slam dunk. But he has made 29 of 32 shots during the conference season.

Hilbig turned in one of his better efforts of the season with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in Azusa Pacific’s 69-66 upset over Westmont last Friday in Santa Barbara. The win ended the team’s losing streak against Westmont, which had not lost to Azusa Pacific since December, 1979, and had never lost to the Cougars at home.

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However, with Hilbig leading the way, the fortunes are looking up at Azusa Pacific.

For the third time in a row, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s basketball Coach Jodie Burton has given birth during the season, and for the third time, it was a boy.

Burton gave birth to 11-pound 15-ounce Michael on Jan. 20--the same day the child was due.

The women’s team, which went 4-0 in Burton’s absence, is 16-3 overall and leads the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s team, which is coached by Burton’s husband, David Wells, is 17-3 and leads the conference.

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College Division Notes It was a sweet moment for Becky White, women’s basketball coach of The Master’s, when her team defeated National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics District III rival Biola, 60-57, last week. It marked the team’s first win ever over Biola, the school where White had been an NAIA All-American in volleyball and basketball. . . . Azusa Pacific’s 6-foot 8-inch center Bill DesRochers has moved up to No. 2 on the school’s all-time scoring list with 2,101 points during his four-year career. DesRochers, who has started in 112 games in a row, is 98 points behind all-time leader Dennis Dickens. . . . Gene Krieger, who guided Westmont to a berth in the NAIA national tournament last season as an interim coach, has been named women’s volleyball coach at Biola. Krieger, District III coach of the year last season, has a five-year coaching record of 128-49. He replaces Robin Davis, who resigned after guiding Biola to a 21-10 record last season.


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