Magic Johnson is injured but resting comfortably in an apartment at the Cal State Northridge University Park student housing facility.
Friends are keeping him in a prone position while he recuperates from a back injury.
Johnson--or rather a life-size cutout of him in uniform--had been staying on the balcony of an apartment shared by Karl Becker and Kirk Scott of the CSUN basketball team. He was clearly visible from Lindley Avenue, just south of Lassen Street.
Becker says Johnson won’t be seen again in an upright position until he gets a better back brace.
“The one he has right now is too short,” said Becker, a junior guard for the Matadors. “Until we get a taller one, he’d just keep falling down.”
Gone, not forgotten: This season’s Northridge basketball team is becoming a close-knit group considering that the Matadors have only 3 returning lettermen. But the squad still has a way to go before it matches last year’s team in terms of unity.
Last season’s team, by all accounts, was unusually close. So close, players jointly purchased a car.
The car--an old Cadillac--was co-owned by Ray Horwath, Chuck McGavran and Alan Fraser. On it, the team painted various slogans cheering the Matador team.
Horwath has completed his eligibility and McGavran isn’t playing this season. Fraser is in the starting lineup at forward, but the car is long gone.
It was left on the side of a freeway about 70 miles outside Sacramento.
It was abandoned by Horwath, who tried to drive it home.
He made it, the car didn’t.
Lesson learned: Marwan Ass’ad, coach of the Northridge soccer team, said he learned some valuable lessons about preparation from last year’s trip to the Final Four.
Last season, Northridge won its semifinal match against the University of Tampa, then lost in the championship match to Southern Connecticut State.
“I’m going to say, ‘Hey, man, if you happen to win, you finish the game and you imagine that you took 5 sleeping pills--calm down and act like you lost,’ ” Ass’ad said.
“You cannot pat the players on the back after they win the semifinals. You have to chew ‘em up, bring ‘em back to earth and get ready for the championship.”
Conference call: Ass’ad said he will be on the phone with coaches across the country to find out about Oakland University of Michigan, the Matadors’ opponent in the semifinals: “All I know is that they finished second in the nation and they played all the big cats--the top Division II teams--all year. They deserve to be where they are.”
Only game in town: The Glendale College football team is headed for the Western State Conference Bowl on Dec. 3, in which the Vaqueros will play Santa Monica.
First, however, Glendale will play its final regular-season game at Taft on Saturday at 1 p.m. The game is the only junior college contest in the state that will be played on Saturday. “This will be good exposure for our kids,” Glendale Coach Jim Sartoris said. “Taft recruits guys from across the country and our players know they’re going to be playing against the cream of the crop.”
Slipping by: Sartoris said WSC coaches will discuss at their all-conference meeting next week the scheduling quirk that helped Bakersfield to go unbeaten through the WSC.
Bakersfield competed in the Southern Division and did not play Glendale or Moorpark, both of which have just 1 loss.
“You want to always play the best in your conference so you have the opportunity to determine the conference champion,” Sartoris said. “But there’s going to be a year or two when you don’t get the opportunity.
“I’ll say this, I like this better than when we couldn’t get enough games.”
Caught napping: Although Glendale defeated Ventura, 7-0, last Saturday, the Vaqueros gave up a big play--a 38-yard bomb from Todd Paffhausen to Dwayne Strayhorn--on Ventura’s first possession.
John Cicuto, Glendale’s defensive coordinator, said that the Pirates had to resort to a little trickery to accomplish even that.
Before the snap, Strayhorn jogged to the sidelines with 2 other players as if the 3 weren’t involved in the play.
Although he had his back to the action, Strayhorn never stepped off the field.
Glendale cornerback George Sykes left Strayhorn unguarded and when the ball was snapped, the receiver broke downfield on deep pattern.
“It’s a sleeper play,” Cicuto said. “It kind of incited our guys.”
In a rush: Larry Roberts, the Moorpark fullback, struggled for 2 games after separating his shoulder Oct. 8. He had led the Western State Conference in rushing most of the season.
His trying times ended against L. A. Southwest on Saturday when Roberts rushed for a season-high 203 yards in 23 carries and scored 4 touchdowns.
For the season, Roberts rushed for 941 yards in 156 carries and 12 touchdowns.
Roberts, a sophomore, will play his last game for Moorpark in the PONY Bowl at Orange Coast College on Dec. 3 against Rancho Santiago.
Moorpark (9-1, 8-1 in conference play) received an invitation to the bowl after clinching the Northern Division championship of the WSC with a 51-22 victory over L. A. Southwest.
Wait ‘til next year: While Glendale and Moorpark prepare for bowl games, Valley Coach Chuck Ferrero said he is already preparing for seasons to come.
“We’re full-steam ahead recruiting and getting our kids placed,” Ferrero said in the wake of a 44-6 loss to Bakersfield on Saturday that ended the team’s season.
Cornerback Darryl Smith already has committed to recruiting trips to Alabama, Arizona and Fresno State. Offensive lineman Chad Pascua will visit Utah.
“Coaches from four-year schools are here right now,” Ferrero said. “They come to get preliminary information and look at film.”
Coaches from 4-year schools may not visit recruits in person until Dec. 1.
Help wanted: The first pitch won’t be officially thrown until February but Pierce baseball Coach Bob Lyons said that the search is on for a few good, or even decent, pitchers.
Lyons has done more than toy with the idea of putting a help-wanted ad in the local newspapers.
“I’m seriously thinking about it,” Lyons said. “I’m a little annoyed that all these kids are ending up at College of the Canyons. I was thinking of putting an ad in the College of the Canyons paper but that might be a little bit of an affront.”
Lyons said he understands that a few would-be Brahma pitchers might have been scared off by last season’s 12-21 record.
Pierce currently has 10 pitchers out for the team, including Pete Dragaloski, who pitched a lot last season, and Shinya Fukuda, who did not.
“Let’s put it this way,” Lyons said. “We have a lot of guys who have toe plates. That’s about it.
“I think we have a team that can really do something. We have power, play good defense and the catching is good.
“We need one or two more kids who were decent high school pitchers, because we could be a good ballclub.”
Running on empty: Occidental’s Michelle Trimble, a three-time All-American in cross-country, pulled out of the women’s finals of the NCAA Division III Championships with less than 500 meters remaining.
The event was held at Forest Park in St. Louis on Saturday.
“She’s been awfully good for a long time and that race was the only major problem she’s had,” Coach Bill Harvey said of Trimble, a senior who never lost a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference race. “One race didn’t go right and it just happened to be her last one.”
Trimble said that she was bothered by a viral infection and chronic pain associated with a stress fracture in her heel.
“After the race nothing could have cheered me up,” Trimble said. “It was really hard sitting through the awards ceremony knowing I should have been up there.”
Trimble added that if things don’t get better in track next spring, she might do something drastic.
“If I don’t make it to nationals, I’m becoming a couch potato,” she quipped.
Carbon copy: Patrick Byrne of Cal Lutheran might have felt a sense of deja vu after finishing 38th in the NAIA cross-country championships in Kenosha, Wis. Byrne ran 25 minutes, 45 seconds over the 8,000-meter course at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside on Saturday to lead CLU to 21st place.
He placed 38th over the same course last year in a school-record time of 25:35.
Byrne also was selected as an NAIA scholar athlete. A biology major, he has a 3.67 grade-point average.
Runnin’ Raiders: Leticia Melgoza placed 36th to lead Moorpark runners at the state cross-country championships at Woodward Park in Fresno on Saturday.
The freshman ran 19:35 over the 4-kilometer course. Sophomore Jennifer Ahlquist placed 56th in 20:19.
Sophomore Chris Pressman, Moorpark’s only representative from the men’s team, placed 48th out of 95 runners in 20:43 over the 4-mile course.
Staff writers Gary Klein, Mike Hiserman, Ralph Nichols and Sam Farmer contributed to this notebook.