UC IRVINE NOTEBOOK : Winning Another National Title Is Goalkeeper's Main Goal

Andy Nott was the starting goalkeeper for the UC Irvine water polo team the year before the Anteaters won the national championship.

He will be the starter this season, the year after.

Between, Chris Duplanty, a first-team All-American and Olympian, helped the team win a national title.

"I really wanted to play," Nott said, "but Chris obviously is such a great player."

Nott learned by watching, and was part of a national championship--although in a smaller role than he would have preferred.

Duplanty, one of five starters Irvine lost after last season, did not play two years ago because he missed the beginning of the season while competing in the Seoul Olympics. The NCAA granted a special redshirt year to college athletes who missed part of their seasons because of the Games.

"It was a surprise," said Nott, a junior. "We didn't find out until the end of August he'd be going to the Olympic Games. At first there was a lot of pressure."

Irvine's young team made the NCAA tournament, and in its first-round match against USC, the Anteaters trailed by five goals in the first half.

It was not a good feeling for a freshman goalkeeper.

In the second half, Irvine tied the score, but ultimately lost by one.

After backing up Duplanty last season, Nott returns to help Irvine's quest to repeat--a tall order, after losing three first-team All-Americans, including Tom Warde, the NCAA player of the year. Julian Harvey and Duplanty were the others.

Only two starters from last year's team are back--sophomore Pablo Yrizar, who scored 53 goals last season, and junior Skylar Putman, who scored 40 goals.

"From the beginning of the season last year, we knew there was a possibility we could win the whole thing," Nott said. "This year, I think we're young. There are probably five or six teams that could win it."

Timber-Eaters! That is the nickname that Scott Brooks, Tod Murphy and Johnny Rogers have given their Irvine contingent on the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team.

Brooks was acquired by the Timberwolves for a second-round draft pick in a June trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.

With Brooks' arrival, the three former Anteaters got to thinking . . . How on earth did Irvine go 17-13 in 1985-86, with a starting five that included Murphy, Rogers, Brooks and Wayne Engelstad?

That's four NBA players, including Engelstad, who has played for the Denver Nuggets and currently is trying to make the Golden State Warriors' roster.

"I'd like to have that year back," Brooks said Tuesday at an Orange County Sportswriters Assn. luncheon. "Too bad we didn't win a few more games that year we played together. I'm not taking a shot at (Coach Bill) Mulligan either. We just didn't play well."

That team beat Nevada Las Vegas twice, but lost three times to a Cal State Fullerton team that went 16-16. It beat Nebraska on the road and lost to Oral Roberts at home.

"I could have played better," Brooks said. "The coaches could have done things differently. We could have played better defensively."

Brooks, whose 23.8-point average during his senior season led all West Coast players, has been practicing at Crawford Hall in preparation for the NBA season, with Murphy, Engelstad, former Anteater Bob Thornton, a former Anteater now with the 76ers, and Michael Smith, a former Brigham Young player now with the Boston Celtics.

Trivia question: Who is the only starter on Irvine's '85-86 team who has never played in the NBA?

Irvine's current players play pick-up games at Crawford Hall alongside the former players.

"Dylan Rigdon, he's a great shooter and should have three more great years," Brooks said. "Ricky Butler, I think, is going to have a great year."

Rigdon and Butler will be trying to recover from a 5-23 season, the worst in school history, and one that was a blow to Mulligan.

"It's tough," Brooks said. "I'm a big Mulligan fan. Hopefully he can put it together this year because he's been struggling the past couple of years. Hopefully the younger players can come through."

Mulligan has had only one winning season since 1985-86, going 16-14 in 1987-88.

Athletic Director Tom Ford recently made public comments about the possibility of a UC Irvine football team being born in the next 10 years.

At least one faculty member took exception, calling Ford to discuss the subject. "The f-word," the faculty member called it, telling Ford, "Let's talk about it before we talk further (in public)."

Ford says the likely model for a football program would be to begin as a non-scholarship Division III program, with an intention to develop into a Division II program such as the one at UC Santa Barbara.

Irvine students rejected a proposal in May, 1989 to study the funding of intercollegiate football, defeating the proposal by more than 300 votes. Ford acknowledges that starting football "will be controversial in many quarters."

"I don't see (starting a football program) within the next five years," Ford said Tuesday at a sports luncheon. "Perhaps within the next 10."

Trivia Answer: Joe Buchanan, a guard now living in Seattle, where he worked to coordinate the basketball competition in the Goodwill Games this summer, is the only starter on the 1985-86 Irvine team who has not played in the NBA.

Anteater Notes

The women's volleyball team hosts the fourth Anteater Invitational Friday and Saturday in Crawford Hall. Irvine is 28-2 in previous meetings against the other teams in the tournament--the University of San Diego, U.S. International University and Northern Iowa. . . . The men's and women's cross-country teams open their seasons Saturday at the Fresno State Invitational. Buffy Rabbitt returns for her senior year and Maria Akraka, the Swedish national champion in the 800 meters and a transfer from Iowa State, is expected to begin competing with the team in October.

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