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St. Mary’s Coach Says He’s Under Fire; School Says His Job Is Secure

Is time running out on Paul Landreaux at St. Mary’s?

The basketball coach who gained statewide acclaim at El Camino College is in the second year of a three-year contract with St. Mary’s, where he inherited a woeful team last season and is off to a 0-2 start with what is virtually a new team this fall.

The paradox is that Landreaux is the one publicly telling people he’s being pressured, while the school says his job is secure.

In a preview of the St. Mary’s team last weekend, Landreaux told the San Francisco Chronicle, “It’s just my second season and I feel like I’m hanging on by my fingernails.”

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Landreaux said he feels pressure from Athletic Director Rick Mazzuto, who was hired after Landreaux was already at the school. The two are not close friends--"There’s no question I would not (take) another basketball job unless I knew who the athletic director was,” Landreaux told the Chronicle--but an athletic department spokesman told The Times that Mazzuto has made no public statements about Landreaux’s job security and that Landreaux might be doing himself damage with his comments.

In the wake of last season’s 7-20 record, part of the disaffection with Landreaux was that he continues to make his home in the South Bay and has not endeared himself to alumni at the small West Coast Conference school in Moraga, nestled in the hills outside Oakland.

“You win basketball games and you can be a mole and be considered a great guy,” Landreaux said.

Mazzuto has said that only Landreaux is being evaluated this season. The school spokesman said St. Mary’s does not normally buy out contracts and that it appears Landreaux’s job is secure, especially if St. Mary’s improves this season. He has only three players back from last season and brought in seven new players, most of them community college transfers including two from El Camino.

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But Landreaux apparently feels the heat, whether self-imposed or from Mazzuto. Although this is his third season away from El Camino, he technically remains on leave there with a teaching spot open for him.

The Loyola Marymount women’s volleyball team, which finished the regular season nearly two weeks ago, practiced for most of last week while hoping to be invited to this week’s Women’s Invitational Tournament.

The invitations went out Sunday and the women were kept in suspense because the calls went out late.

“We practiced Sunday night, still not knowing, but we were told we’d hear by 8 o’clock if we were going,” Coach Steve Stratos said. “To their credit, it was a great practice. They never stopped working hard. Meanwhile, 8 o’clock had come and gone and when practice ended I had to tell them we were not going.”

Then Athletic Director Brian Quinn showed up and gave them the good news.

The Loyola women opened preliminary play in the 20-team tournament Thursday in Knoxville, Tenn., and won their first match against Dayton in three games. “This is a super experience for the girls,” Stratos said. “They’re really pumped up to do well.”

An item here on Cal State Dominguez Hills basketball Coach Dave Yanai drew a letter pointing out that there was a program at the school before Yanai took over in the 1977-78 season.

Indeed, little is on record before the Yanai era because the school, still in its infancy in the early 1970s, had no sports information office and record-keeping was spotty. The school officially started keeping records in the 1977-78 season.

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Donald Biggles, who was a member of the school’s first team in 1974-75, writes to point out that Coach Al Pompey had some success playing at the NAIA level, even ending Biola’s 45-game home winning streak in 1975-76.

“We had a good squad both years,” Biggles wrote. “Your article gives the impression that Dominguez Hills had no basketball life before Dave Yanai. I hope you will set the record straight.”

To Have and Have Not: The Loyola Marymount women’s basketball team opened with a 130-52 victory Friday over The Master’s College--the highest point total for a women’s team in West Coast Conference history--then dropped its next game Monday at Arizona State, 109-62. The 78-point victory and a 47-point loss represent a 125-point turnaround in four days.

Stat of the Week: The bookkeeping at the Maui Classic was unusual at times. In Loyola Marymount’s first game, Tom Peabody, who was back in Los Angeles recovering from an injury, was given credit for two rebounds in the official box score. It gives a whole new meaning to the term “long rebound.”

Notes: Loyola Marymount seniors Kristen Bruich and Lynn Flanagan each passed 1,000 career points in Friday’s opening game. In the 130-52 victory over The Master’s College, Flanagan set a school record for most points in a game with 36. Bruich is two short of 400 career assists and 20 away from moving into second place in West Coast Conference records book. . . . In Monday’s victory over Cal Baptist, Dominguez Hills sophomore Dionne Vanlandingham pulled down a career-high 19 rebounds. She’s averaging 12.3, helping propel the Lady Toros to a 4-1 start. They play in the Fresno Pacific Tournament this weekend, opening today against Grand Canyon. Fresno Pacific plays Southern California College in the second game. The Toros won the tourney last season. . . . Dominguez Hills sophomore Julie Martinovich was named to the District VIII Academic All-America volleyball team. The San Pedro resident gives the Toros an academic All-American for eight consecutive years.


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