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Toros’ Officials Wait for Word on Cage Playoffs

Times Staff Writer

Officials at Cal State Dominguez Hills were put on hold this week in an effort to gain a place for the Toro basketball team in the Division II men’s playoffs.

The Toros (19-9), victims of an upset loss to Chapman College in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. postseason tournament, had hoped to secure an at-large berth, but because four regionals are still being played nationwide, the selection committee could agree on only 15 of the 32 spots.

The committee will convene Sunday to fill the remaining spots and the announcement will be made from Springfield, Mass., in a press conference beamed to the nation by satellite before the release of Division I pairings Sunday afternoon at 2:30.

If selected, Dominguez Hills would most likely be sent to Bakersfield to play in the Western Regional on March 17-18, said Al Mathews of Cal State Hayward, western chairman of the basketball committee. UC Riverside, Cal State Bakersfield and Sonoma State have been chosen for that regional. “We want Dominguez Hills in there,” Mathews said Wednesday. “It is one of the best teams in the West and deserves to be in there.”

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At one time Dominguez Hills looked like a shoe-in for a postseason berth, having won nine straight games. But by losing three of its last four, the Toros may have made themselves unmarketable. According to Mathews, the Toro chances rest in “how successful I am at arguing (that Dominguez Hills is one of the best teams in the West) to the selection committee.

“Frankly, Dominguez Hills would be easier to sell if they hadn’t lost three of their last four games.”

About half a dozen eastern teams have better records than Dominguez Hills but have not automatically qualified for the tournament. It is possible, Mathews said, that one of those teams could lobby enough votes to “swing” itself into the western regional, bumping the Toros. That was the case in the women’s western regional, which begins Friday at Cal Poly Pomona. It features Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Northridge, Cal State Hayward and Florida Atlantic.

Mathews said he does not feel the Dominguez Hills men’s team will be sent to another regional, and Toro Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said any thought of that would be “speculative.”

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A factor in favor of Dominguez Hills is that the Division II realigned its playoff format in January to include eight first-round regionals of four teams each. The realignment was in part a money-saving device that was intended to cut the number of teams allowed to “swing” into a regional in another area and thereby incur excessive travel expenses. If that guideline is followed, Mathews said, Dominguez Hills would be the logical choice as the No. 4 team in Bakersfield.

Added Guerrero: “We are in a situation where we weren’t able to finish the season as we expected. But there is no way in the world that you can convince me that we aren’t one of the top 32 teams in the country.”

The Toros continues to practice, but with a cloud hanging over their backboard. Coach Dave Yanai has termed his team’s postseason chances “remote.” On Sunday the Toros are expected to gather at the Hawthorne home of sophomore guard Robert Barksdale, an all-CCAA first-team choice, and pick up the press conference on satellite.

Senior center Anthony Blackmon, the CCAA Player of the Year, would like one more shot at a college game. Guerrero said that Blackmon’s accomplishments may be another plus for the Toros in their quest to advance to the playoffs. Said Guerrero: “He may be one of the few players from the West Coast to get first-team All-American status in a while. That has to be a factor.”


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