Chris Anderson, Tony Berlin and Jason Greenstein--all members of the Occidental College basketball team--and friend Marc Monasch spent their spring vacation in the South and brought a ball and high-tops along.
A favorite hangout was the field house on the campus of Louisiana State University. The four formed the core of a five-on-five team that had a monopoly on court time.
Their dominance was jeopardized, however, when Chris Jackson, LSU’s All-American freshman, entered the arena and joined the opposing team.
Greenstein, a 5-foot-8 guard, took on Jackson, a 6-2 guard who averaged 30.2 points a game for the LSU this season. According to the Occidental players, the two played to a standoff.
“They couldn’t stop each other,” Anderson said, pausing. “Of course, Greenstein is playing the game of his life and Jackson’s probably going at 50%.”
Anderson, who is 6-foot-10, said that he, too, had no trouble scoring against Jackson. “He was just another small guy trying to block my shot,” Anderson said.
Just another small guy?
Jackson is the top freshman scorer in NCAA history. There had to be another side of the story. What about when Anderson tried to guard Jackson?
“There was nothing I could do,” Anderson said. “He’d get the ball, go right by and dunk on me.”
Setbacks galore: Great things were predicted for this year’s edition of the Pierce College men’s tennis team, a squad Coach Paul Xanthos said might be his strongest ever.
Considering the Brahmas have won or shared conference championships every year since 1976, that’s saying something.
But such lofty goals might have taken a precipitous fall.
Steve Oliver, the top-ranked JC player in the state, was suspended from the team earlier this month for disciplinary reasons. Then, on the day Oliver was supposed to meet with Xanthos to discuss his return, he showed up with his knee in a full-length brace. He suffered a serious injury while on a skiing trip and is out for the season.
Sudantha Soysa, the top junior player from Sri Lanka, was next to fall. He is at least temporarily ineligible while awaiting funds to pay tuition for the spring semester. Soysa is not allowed to work according to the terms of his visa so he depends on money sent from Sri Lanka by his family.
The problem, Xanthos said, is the family is experiencing difficulty shipping the money out of Sri Lanka because of government restrictions.
“You can’t lose players like those two and expect to compete against the big schools,” Xanthos said.
Pierce started the week ranked third in the state with an 8-0 record, but the Brahmas dropped a 7-2 decision to Moorpark College in a Western State Conference match Tuesday. It was only the fourth conference match Pierce has lost in 13 years.
Memorial fund: The parents of Jeff Blank, a Valley College football player who died last August in an automobile accident, have established a $10,000 scholarship that will be awarded to a needy sophomore football player.
Valley Coach Chuck Ferrero, who will select the recipient, said that the funds will be awarded to a Monarch player who does not receive an athletic scholarship but still chooses to continue his education.
“I think it’s something he would have wanted,” said Steve Blank, Jeff’s father. “We decided to do it in his honor.”
Jeff Blank was a starting wide receiver for the Monarchs as a freshman in 1987.
Little tower of power: Brenda Frafjord does not look like a power hitter, yet the 5-foot-5 freshman is quickly gaining a reputation as a heavy hitter for the Cal Lutheran softball team.
Frafjord became the first Cal Lutheran player to hit a ball out of Gibello Field when she powered one over the left-field fence last week in a nonconference game against Concordia College of St. Paul, Minn.
It was Frafjord’s third home run of the season, but Coach Wendy Olson-Beckemeyer still puts the reserve second baseman ninth in the batting order.
“Looking at her, nobody would expect that she could hit it over the fence,” Beckemeyer said. “Nobody would look at her and say, ‘Gee, I had better back up.’ ”
They might if they knew she was batting .563 with 11 runs batted in and 15 runs scored in 20 games.
History repeats: It was no surprise that Cal State Northridge and Pepperdine split their two baseball games this season. The schools have played 38 games through the years with each team winning 18. There were two ties.
Both games this season were decided by one run. Northridge won, 5-4, last month and Pepperdine won, 6-5, on Monday.
Cal State Los Angeles, Northridge’s opponent Saturday at 1 p.m. at Matador Field, is another school that historically has played CSUN to a standoff.
The California Collegiate Athletic Assn. rivals have played 74 games and Northridge has won 43 compared to CSLA’s 39. There have been two ties. CSUN swept the Golden Eagles in a two-game series last month, 8-6 and 4-3.
Running it up: Pitcher Mike Clark, who is 2-1 for Cal Lutheran, is enjoying offensive support for the first time in two seasons.
The junior right-hander was 4-6 for Pierce College last season, but in the games he lost the Brahmas scored a total of only seven runs.
Starting time: Jay Anderson has emerged as Cal Lutheran’s top starting pitcher after spending most of the past three seasons in the bullpen.
The senior right-hander has won five consecutive games, including a four-hit shutout of Point Loma Nazarene on Monday.
Staff writers Mike Hiserman, Ralph Nichols, Gary Klein and Sam Farmer contributed to this notebook.