Notes on a Scorecard
Maybe Cal State Bakersfield’s Roadrunners should have stopped by the nearby basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., for instant enshrinement after their victory over Troy (Ala.) State brought them the NCAA Division II title Saturday and the only 33-0 collegiate season ever. . . .
The next day, they returned home to the lower San Joaquin Valley and were greeted by 2,000 fans at the airport who chanted, “Thirty-three and oh! Thirty-three and oh!” . . .
The school (enrollment 5,200) has won the last eight Division II national swim championships plus eight titles in wrestling, three in softball and another in women’s volleyball, but there never has been anything quite like 33-0. . . .
“The town is going bonkers,” Coach Pat Douglass said. . . .
Really, it had been doing so for some time. Blue-and-gold billboards wished the Roadrunners good luck in Springfield. Their exploits were front-page news in the Bakersfield Californian. Every tournament game was televised live. . . .
“I began to realize that we were pretty talented when we won our first game by 20 points on the road after everyone’s practice time had been cut back by 2 1/2 weeks,” Douglass said. . . .
Balance, tight defense and 54% shooting were the keys to the first collegiate unbeaten season at any level since Division III Potsdam (N.Y.) State went 32-0 in 1986. . . .
Roheen Oats, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound junior forward from Queens, N.Y., led the Roadrunners with a modest average of 14.2 points, but three other starters also averaged in double figures, and guard Kenny Warren set game and tournament records for three-point shooting. . . .
Senior forward Erin Vines was instrumental in a defense that held opposing teams to 66 points per game. . . .
“The important thing is that we have players who came here with winning traditions,” Douglass said. “Six of them were on championship teams in high school.” . . .
Seven of the 12 are junior college transfers. Seven are from California, two from New York and one each from Oregon, Texas and Washington. . . .
Douglass, 43, is a disciple of the late Dick Edwards, for whom he played at the University of Pacific. Douglass, who coached at Eastern Montana before arriving in Bakersfield six seasons ago, is 274-97 and was one of three finalists for the opening at San Diego State last season. . . .
During the 85-72 victory over Troy State that was televised nationally by CBS, he kept two players at the side of the court and another two at midcourt while the Roadrunners shot free throws. . . .
“We didn’t want to give up three-point shots,” Douglass said after Troy State made 23 of them during its semifinal victory over New Hampshire. “We also didn’t want to get fatigued running back down court. They were using 10 men, and we were playing six or seven.” . . .
The closest call all season for the champions of the California Collegiate Athletic Assn.--which includes Cal State L.A., Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State San Bernardino, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Pomona, Chapman and UC Riverside--was a 66-65 victory over Master’s College on Dec. 5. . . .
“When you get to the national tournament, you find some Division I-caliber teams,” Douglass said. “I’ve been told we could finish second or third in a conference like the Big Sky. We might be as good as 30% of the lower Division I teams.” . . .
Troy State will be elevated to Division I next season, and Cal State Bakersfield hopes to reach that level eventually, despite budget cuts that have hit the state university system. . . .
Of course, the Roadrunners, who reached the Final Four the previous three seasons, would be perfectly happy to go 33-0 again in Division II next season. . . .
Florida State linebacker Marvin Jones wore a New York Jet T-shirt during a recent practice session in front of NFL scouts. The Jets will draft third on April 25. . . .
The Detroit Lions, who missed out on free-agent linebacker Pat Swilling last year when their contract offer was matched by the New Orleans Saints, are trying to obtain the Kansas City Chiefs’ Derrick Thomas. . . .
On Saturday, Eliza, trained by Alex Hassinger, will become the first Santa Anita Derby filly entrant in 30 years not to be trained by Wayne Lukas. Lukas saddled fifth-place finishers Terlingua in 1979 and Life’s Magic in 1984 and winner Winning Colors in 1988. . . .
It’s hard to believe that the networks pitted the Academy Award presentations against the NCAA championship game on several Monday nights. . . . So much for Indiana’s hopes of winning the National Invitation Tournament--preseason variety--and NCAA championships in one season. . . .
Most contrasting coaching matchup of the year would be Mr. Overcoach, Dean Smith of North Carolina, against Mr. Undercoach, Steve Fisher of Michigan, in the NCAA championship game.