SBVC finally gets a really big win

San Bernardino Valley College football coach Pat Meech admits his cell phone started ringing late Saturday and didn’t stop for a couple of days. Word was out. Most probably thought they heard the score backward. The Wolverines throttled almighty Grossmont, the juggernaut, the team many considered invincible.

27-25, Good guys!

Grossmont is one of those teams with a definite swagger. Cocky? Definitely! So many of those trying to contact Meech were other coaches, silently cheering that someone finally knocked the Griffins off their pedestal. They had won 36 straight conference games dating back to 2002. So maybe they had earned the right to be cocky.

But it was a much-needed win for Meech and the program. It is his fifth year and the team has taken baby steps every year. A 2-8 his first year, then 3-7, 4-6, 5-5 last year. They were 0-2 this season going into that game. Progress is one thing but at some point you want a team that can start competing with the best in the conference. Maybe this will be that year.

Meech’s teams have tended to beat the teams they’re supposed to beat, lose to the teams they were supposed to lose to. With middle tier teams it is pretty much win one, lose one . . . thus a .500 record. No doubt this was the marquee win in Meech’s tenure, maybe in the school’s recent history.

Next up is San Diego Mesa on Saturday. This team believes. Now the trick is to avoid the letdown that sometimes comes after such a big victory. It wouldn’t do much good to beat Grossmont, then turn around and lose to Mesa.

The Wolverines showed character in coming back from a 21-0 deficit. Let’s hope they show just as much character this week in preparing for another foe. If so this could be a very special season for a team that hasn’t won a conference title in a decade.

SBVC basketball coach wants to win with local talent

I ran into SBVC men’s basketball coach Gerry Wright recently at a
Wolverines football game and he is excited about the coming season. You
might remember Wright was put in the precarious position of taking over
the Wolverines in December when previous coach Derrick Pugh was relieved
of his duties just as the team was leaving for an afternoon game in
Riverside.

Wright did an admirable job, directing the team to a Foothill
Conference title. (In a preseason poll of memeber coaches, SBVC was
picked to finish fourth.) A playoff run ended with a second round loss
to Saddleback. The outcome might have been different had the team’s only
presence in the paint not been injured in practice a few days earlier.

The interim tag was lifted and Wright was officially handed the job
in April. He deserved it.

It looked like he was going to be loaded this year since most of his
key players last year were freshmen. But other coaches went after his
players like vultures while SBVC administrators tried to make a
decision. Wright said there is no animosity between himself and the
other players. Most were from out of state and Wright said they didn’t
have the financial means to stay here.

The only returning player is Bo Harrison, a local product out of
Redlands East Valley. But that is OK with Wright who says he wants to
prove you can win with local talent.

Former Coach Phil Mathews, who took the team to the state tournament in
both his years here, had connections all over the country and used those
when it came to recruiting. The team that played at SBVC last year was
basically his.

There is nothing really wrong with that. This is college, not high
school. Recruiting is part of the game. But it still seems to violate
the spirit for which junior colleges were intended. Most of the local
players who have played at SBVC in the past few years were nothing more
than seat fillers on the bench. It could not have been easy for them to
practice hard every day for their neighborhood school when they knew
they were going to be pushed aside for highly touted players from across
the country who probably never heard of San Bernardino.

Having the majority of players from out of state also helps add to a
disconnect between the school and the community when there should be
just the opposite. Let’s hope Wright is successful in his mission.

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New man in charge at Cal State

Cal State San Bernardino finally has a new athletic director with
Kevin Hatcher being named the successor to Nancy Simpson earlier today.
Hatcher comes to San Bernardino from Colgate University where he has
been instrumental in working with the budget, fund-raising and working
as a liasion between the school and the community.

He has also worked in similar roles at USC and University of Texas-El
Paso.

It sounds like he is just what the school here needs. It isn’t
unusual for there to be a disconnect between a school and the community,
especially at a commuter school. But head to downtown San Bernardino
and chances are few people could tell you where Cal State San Bernardino
is located. That shouldn’t be the case.

The university has national championship caliber teams in its primary
spectator sports – men’s basketball and women’s volleyball. And it has
one of the finest facilities in the country in which to play.

Cal State will probably never draw the crowds and get the booster
support of a school like Chico State which is truly the center of its
community. But a better job needs to be done here of promoting the
college’s team here in the community and even within the school.
(Student attendance at athletic events is pretty much non-existant.)

The first step would be enticing youth teams, middle schools and even
high school teams to come to different events. Then go to community
groups. It shouldn’t be that hard to market teams with that kind of
track record of success.

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Under the lights at SBVC

OK. I have to admit I was not excited about the prospect of 7
p.m. football games at San Bernardino Valley College. It is hard enough
covering 7 p.m. high school games and they are usually a good 30-45
minutes shorter. Now I am going to try and make a 10 p.m. deadline when
games aren’t over until 10 p.m. . . . and that is if you’re lucky.

The Wolverines used to play night games in the era of veteran
coach Ron Smedley but went to afternoon games when he retired five years
ago.

The thinking in going back to night games was that the school
would draw a bigger crowd than was the case in 1 p.m. contests where the
number of players on the field often outnumbered the fans in the
stands. In this case administrators were right, at least judging by the
turnout for Saturday’s 2007 home opener against Los Angeles Southwest.
The crowd was an estimated 1,000 was probably the total of all the home
games last year.

There was a legitiamte buzz in the air too. That buzz died down a
bit after the Wolverines failed on fourth down twice and fumbled twice
in the first four possessions.

San Bernardino native Henry Tauteoli leaped up and down on the
sidelines, waving his arms, trying to get the crowd back into that game.
It worked momentarily. But a ferocious hit by DeMorris Brooks that
nearly decapitated a Cougar ball carrier helped more.

SBVC trailed at the half 26-7.

Jovante Taylor single-handedly dismantled SBVC. He caught a
45-yard pass from Kurious Alexander (yes that is his real name) to open
the scoring, then later returned a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown.
And that was just in the first half. He returned the second half kickoff
89 yards for another score.

We were all a little mystified when the Wolverines even kicked to
him later in the fourth quarter after scoring. A collective groan went
up as Taylor, the state track champion in the 100 meters, settled under
the ball. But this time the Wolverines made the tackle.

All in all it was a fun night, although some of the luster was
taken off by a 45-28 loss.

The Wolverines are 0-2 but have a week off to address their issues
before hosting Grossmont in a Foothill Conference opener Sept. 22. By
the way, Grossmont is off to an uncharacteristic 0-2 start as well.

Brooks is an exciting player. So is wide receiver Sylvester Burel.
SBVC has some talent.

Let’s hope the buzz remains and that the Wolverines can rise to the
challenge.

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Cal State volleyball team leaps to No. 1

The Cal State San Bernardino volleyball team moved up to the top
spot in the AVCA Division II National poll this week after the two teams
ranked ahead of it in the preseason poll lost matches their first
weekend.

Being No. 1 can be both a blessing and a curse. It is a nice
accomplishment for a program that has been among the country’s elite the
last five years and it is good recognition for a city that isn’t often
put in a positive light in the media.

But there is also the pressure that comes with living up to those
expectations. Opponents will get that much more fired up when playing
the Coyotes. And they already will be facing the toughest competition in
the country when CCAA play starts this weekend. Cal State will host
Monterey Bay Friday and Sonoma State Saturday at Coussoulis. Those two
matches should be free passes. But there are formidable foes waiting in
the wings in long-time nemesis UC San Diego, Cal State Los Angeles,
Chico State and neighborhood foe Cal Poly Pomona, which always gives Cal
State a problem.

The higher the Coyotes finish in the rankings, the better their
chance at hosting the Pacific Region and possibly the NCAA Nationals.
The first regional ranking won’t come out until October and hosting
rights for that tournament traditionally go to the top team, no
questions asked.

There are other things considered when it comes time to select a
host for nationals however. That right will go to one of the eight
qualifiers. Should the Coyotes win the Pacific Region, they would be
attractive as a host site because of the quality of the arena, the
accessability in and out of the area from a transportation standpoint as
well as the organization the Cal State staff has shown when it has
hosted marquee events in the past.

A team from the West is also due to host. The NCAA tries to move
the event around so that each region has the opportunity every few
years. It was held in Pensacola, Fla. last year with Nebraska-Kearney
getting the nod the previous year.

The last time the event was held in the West was when the Coyotes
hosted in 2003. The last host from the West before that was Cal State
Bakersfield in 1997.

So let’s hope the Coyotes live up to that billing and have that
chance further down the road.

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