Saturday’s public intra-squad basketball game at Loyola Marymount (1 p.m. in Gersten Pavilion) will be the official unveiling of the new-look Enoch Simmons.
The muscular 6-foot-4 senior guard, Coach Paul Westhead’s only 4-year veteran, won’t look different to the casual eye.
But after spending the summer playing baseball for the Oakland A’s rookie team, Simmons has a rebuilt nose, the result of a bench-clearing brawl. (Simmons will be on the bench Saturday, but will sit out with a sore knee).
He spent the summer in the Arizona League, where games began at 9 a.m., before the temperature reached 110. It was in one heated series against a combined Boston-Seattle team that the A’s farmhands felt they were being thrown at.
“One of our players was intentionally hit in the back of the head,” Simmons said. The A’s rookies got upset, and both benches emptied onto the field. Simmons, however, stayed out of the main action. “I’m up there talking some trash, running my lips. Somebody said something. I turned and was punched in the face. I fell down and he took off. That was pretty much it. I didn’t feel it was broken--it didn’t start bleeding till I chased him. Then the guys said, ‘Your nose is twisted, it’s broken.’ ”
Simmons had surgery, then finished the summer wearing a protective face guard on his batting helmet. He still managed to bat .300 and is encouraged about his future in baseball.
His future in basketball was less certain until mid-September. Under NCAA rules he’s allowed to complete his basketball eligibility but cannot receive scholarship money. Simmons is receiving a fraction of his tuition costs from the A’s but is paying most of the way himself--and a year’s education and living costs can total $12,000 to $14,000 at Loyola.
“I guess that does make him an elite walk-on,” Westhead said with a grin.
Simmons didn’t decide to return to the team until after the semester began. “I was tired from the summer. I wanted to get another semester out of the way. My intention wasn’t” necessarily to continue playing, he said. “I took a couple of weeks off. I thought about it and realized I’m not the kind of person who can sit around and watch the other guys play. I’d regret it if I missed my last chance. I feel more relaxed about basketball this year. Now I don’t feel like I’m missing something (baseball). I feel I’m playing a lot better because of that.”
Simmons said he’s enjoying basketball, even given Westhead’s grueling training drills. “I look at it as character building,” he says with a shrug.
At least he’ll be safely back in a non-contact sport for a while.
Cal State Dominguez Hills’ high hopes for a spot in the NCAA soccer playoffs were dashed when the Toros were beaten by Cal State Northridge, 3-1, Sunday in a qualifying game. The two had tied for the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. title.
In a well-played game, the Toros’ Joe Flanagan tied the score at 1-all early in the second half on a penalty kick, but the Matadors’ Scott Piri scored twice to give Northridge its fifth straight berth in the Division II tournament. The Toros felt they should have gotten another penalty kick when a Northridge defender made a hand save with the score 2-1, but there was no call. The Toros outshot Northridge, 9-7, but couldn’t find the net again. Their season ended at 13-5-2, with a 7-1-2 mark in the CCAA.
Dominguez junior Willie Ayala led the conference in scoring with 13 goals and 3 assists for 29 points. Ayala’s 13 goals are the fourth-best total in school history. Junior goalie Chris Wilson tied a Dominguez Hills record with 7 shutouts and had a 1.10 goals-against average, also a school mark. Flanagan, a junior, moved into the No. 2 career scoring spot at Dominguez Hills with 28 goals and 68 points.
The good news for the Toros is they placed four players on the all-conference team: Ayala, Flanagan, Wilson and sophomore sweeper Martin Mira. Northridge’s Steve Lazarus was named MVP. Northridge’s Marwan Ass’ad was named coach of the year.
Loyola signed 6-foot-9 forward Chris Scott, a star at Logan High in Union City, Calif., to a basketball letter-of-intent. Scott is listed in Street and Smith Basketball magazine as one of the top five prospects in the San Francisco-Oakland area. He averaged 13.8 points and 7 rebounds as a junior in leading Logan to its third straight Mission Valley league title. Scott also considered Providence, Seton Hall, St. Mary’s and the Naval Academy. Lions Coach Paul Westhead commented: “Chris’ attributes are his speed, quickness and tremendous shooting ability. He fits very well into our system.”
The Loyola women also had an early signing, 6-2 center Joell Coltrane of Lake Oswego High in Oregon. She is rated one of the top two post players in Oregon and helped lead Lake Oswego to the state 3-A finals last season.