How Jeff Oliver lights a fire under his Coyotes

Cal State San Bernardino men’s basketball coach Jeff Oliver is probably the most quotable coach any member of the media will come across, especially when his team loses. But he is also pretty savy when it comes to getting a point across to his sometimes stubborn players.

Oliver likes to use the media to his advantage. And it almost always works. It goes like this. You criticize a player in a post-game or pre-game interview. Those quotes find their way into the newspaper which typically irritates or gets under the skin of that player. The player comes out and wants to prove the coach wrong so a good performance follows.
He did with big guys in recent years like Ivan Johnson and Brandon Brown. Even before that he blasted point guard Trennell Eddings when he got a late technical foul that ended up costing his team a game. In all those cases the players responded.
So earlier this week Oliver talked up Saturday’s foe San Francisco State and said that school would probably beat his because its returning starters were “playing 10 times better than mine.”
He asked me to make sure I used that comment. It was a valid point so I did. He was particularly critical of guards Aaron Hill and Corey Caston who had been turning the ball over regularly, as well as David Jefferson.
Well the message seemed to get through again. The Coyotes beat the Gators 84-60. And it wasn’t even that close. Jefferson had 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Caston had 14 points and five assists and Hill contributed 10 points and five assists.
 That performance came 24 hours after a similar 85-50 lambasting of Cal State Monterey Bay. So the ship appears to be righted for now!
The Coyotes are 5-3 overall and 3-1 in CCAA play. Next up is the always difficult Humboldt State-Sonoma State road trip.

Cal Poly, Cal State basketball teams back on court

The Cal State San Bernardino and Cal Poly Pomona basketball teams get back into CCAA play. Both will be at home with the women’s games tipping off at 3 p.m. and the men’s games to follow. The Broncos will be hosting San Francisco State with the Coyotes entertaining Cal State Monterey Bay.

The NCAA put a new rule in place that prohibits team from practicing from Dec 20-26 so they will have had just two days practice to shake off the rust. Both men’s teams have had their issues although both the women’s teams have looked solid in the early going.
Cal Poly coach Greg Kamansky is especially concerned. His leading scorer Kevin Menner went to New York for the break and can’t get back because of the snowstorm on the East coast. Kamansky doesn’t know if Menner will make it home in time or not.
Senior forward Tobias Jahn has had a groin injury the past couple of weeks that seems to have gotten worse and he might not be available either.
The Broncos only carry 10 players, so that would put them down to eight and three of those really play limited minutes.
The Cal State men have not played liked a cohesive unit either. It’s not good when you average more turnovers than assists which happens to be the case. Much of the problem seems to be the returning starters which is surprising.
The Coyotes are in need of a better showing from senior point guard Corey Caston. He is the floor leader and he is a much better player than what he has shown early.
Both teams have the tough Sonoma State-Humboldt State road trip next, so wins at home are crucial this week.
Also, since campuses are closed for the holidays, spectators will NOT have to pay for parking as it typically the case.

Chaffey linebacker signs with USC

Chaffey College linebacker Dallas Kelley has signed with USC.

The 6-foot, 230-pounder spent his high school career at Norco. He originally signed with Portland State but didn’t play there, coming home and spending two years with the Panthers instead.

Chaffey coach Carl Beach said Kelley will enroll in January and be eligible to participate in spring drills, which made him an attractive prospect for the Trojans, who face a loss of scholarships and are looking for athletes who can come in and play right away.

Kelley is a two-time first- team all-conference pick. Last season he recorded a team- best 82 tackles, including 13.5 for losses (four sacks), with two forced fumbles, one interception and one blocked kick.

As a freshman in 2009 he had a team-best 74 tackles, including 9.5 for losses (3.5 sacks), and four deflections.

Beach added that USC also likes defensive back Daimian Stafford and might sign him too if he can get academics in order.

SBVC’s Sanchez earns national honor

The celebration hasn’t stopped for the state champion San Bernardino Valley College women’s soccer team.

The latest honor goes to sophomore forward Araceli Sanchez, who’s been named the 2010 Division III Junior College National Player of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).

Sanchez, 19, will be among the athletes honored at the annual All-America Luncheon to be held in Baltimore, Md., Jan. 15 as part of the 2011 NSCAA Convention.

SBVC coach Kristin Hauge will accompany her on that trip and be recognized for her selection earlier this month as the West Region Coach of the Year.

“It’s nice recognition for our program, and lets the four-year schools out there know that we play pretty good soccer,” Hauge said. “It lets them know they can come to us and find quality players.”

Sanchez and Hauge led the Wolverines to their first 20-win season and state title in school history. It was just the second state title in any women’s sport at the school, the first coming in 1974 in archery, which was discontinued four years later.

The Wolverines notched playoff wins over Bakersfield, Cypress and Ventura and followed with victories over Fresno City and Santa Rosa in the state tournament held at College of the Canyons.

“It really was the perfect season,” Sanchez said. “We did everything we set out to do, and our hard work paid off.”

Sanchez, a graduate of Moreno Valley High School, was earlier recognized as the Foothill Conference Player of the Year. She also earned first-team All-Southern California and all-state honors.

She had 12 goals and six assists in the regular season, and added three goals and two assists in the playoffs.

The next task for Sanchez is to decide on a four-year school. Hauge said that 30 to 40 are interested in Sanchez, who hopes to become a border patrol agent.

“I really haven’t narrowed it down yet, but I would like to go out of state,” she said. “It will be whatever school is the best for me athletically and academically.”

Sanchez is pleased to be part of a group of players that have boosted the program into elite company.

“We had a great run,” she said.

Cal Poly Pomona basketball players honored

Cal Poly Pomona claimed both CCAA Basketball Player of the week honors with senior guard Reyana Colson chosen the top player on the women’s side and junior forward Dwayne Fells selected on the men’s side.

Colson was named tournament Most Valuable Player after leading the Broncos (6-0) to a 2-0 record at the GNAC/CCAA Challenge. She averaged 25.5 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in leading Cal Poly Pomona to wins over Western Oregon and Northwest Nazarene.

It is the second time this season she has been so honored.

Fells helped the Broncos (3-3) to a split of their games at the Grand Canyon Christmas Classic. He averaged 19 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2 blocks in a loss to Montana State-Billings and a win over Simon Fraser. He shot 64 percent from the field (16-for-25).

Both teams return to action on Dec. 29, hosting San Francisco State as the teams resume CCAA play.

Broncos turn in better effort in latest win

The Cal Poly Pomona Broncos must have embarrassed by their performance on Friday against Montana State Billings because they came out 24 hours later like they had a point to prove.

The Broncos followed up that abysmal performance with an 80-58 win over Simon Fraser on Saturday at Grand Canyon University. They were far from perfect but they played hard and it was a much-improved showing.
To put the win in perspective, San Francisco State also played Simon Fraser earlier this season. The Gators have traditionally been a middle tier team in the CCAA and they beat Simon Fraser 95-50. So the Broncos needed to win. And win big.
The Broncos (2-5) still have yet to beat a team with a winning record. But they did maintain one streak and hold yet another opponent to under 60 points which they have done in every game thus far.
Dwayne Fells continued his stellar play with 20 point, eight rebounds and two blocks. Kevin Menner also had 20 and Mitchel Anderson 17.
This team’s biggest weakness is the lack of a true point guard. The Clan applied some defensive pressure early and when it did the Broncos had trouble getting the ball up court at times. Terrence Drisdom is that but he is a true freshman and needs time to develop before being thrown into the mix as a starter.
The Broncos also need their seniors to step up as leaders. Donnelle Booker should be that guy. He has been a starter since his freshman year and been through more key games than any other player on the roster.
If those two factors are addressed there is no reason the Broncos can’t be in the mix again. But the CCAA is tough from top to bottom. There are no breathers.

Broncos upended by inferior foe

The Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball team it looking little like the defending national champion. The Broncos were sluggish in every facet of the game, losing to lowly Montana State Billings 52-44 on Friday at the Grand Canyon Christmas Classic.

It’s one thing to lose to a quality foe. It’s another to lose to a team that was 1-6 coming in which happened to be the case.
The Broncos have made a habit of getting off to slow starts and they have always managed to turn it around and make a run when it mattered. Let’s hope that is the case again. But even when they were losing early, they weren’t losing to teams like this.
The Broncos didn’t seem to play with any passion. They have had their shortcomings. But playing with passion has never been one of them. So there is cause for concern.
Senior forward Tobias Jahn did not play because of a strained groin. But Cal Poly should have won this game without him.
About the only player living up to expectations is junior Dwayne Fells who tossed in 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field He also had seven rebounds and two blocks.
The Broncos have to get more out of senior Donnelle Booker, their most athletic and experienced player, or they will not make a run. Junior Matthew Rosser and sophomore Mitchel Anderson seem to have regressed from their solid showings last year. Mark Rutledge needs to learn when to shoot and when not to shoot.
Now the Broncos face Simon Fraser (2-4), a team from Canada that Billings lost to by 15 points. This could be a turning point game. Lose and continue the slide. Or win and right the ship for the moment.

Cal Poly men ready for tipoff in Phoenix

The Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball team is about to tip off in its game against Montana State-Billings at the Grand Canyon Christmas Invitational at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. 

The Broncos (2-2) will be without the services of their biggest player – 6-foot-9 forward Tobias Jahn who is nursing a groin injury. He isn’t even dressed. That puts the Broncos down to nine available players with senior Kevin Menner possibly seeing limited minutes due to a sore knee.
Cal Poly should be able to get by despite that. The Yellowjackets are just 1-6 and tomorrow’s foe, Simon Fraser, is just 2-3.  
The Broncos have six players back from a team that won a national title but the jury is still out. We probably won’t know much more after this weekend because they still will not have faced an opponent over .500.
It’s too bad the Broncos can’t play a better schedule. Travel costs are an issue but a lot of people don’t want to play them. So they’re in a tough position.

SBVC men get win at Citrus

The San Bernardino Valley College men’s basketball team is a work in progress. Remember it graduated its top nine players from a team that advanced to the state semifinal last March.

So the new look Wolverines are off to a 3-4 start, They did pick up an 86-79 overtime win over L.A. Trade Tech at the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic being held this year at Citrus College. They will face a formidable challenge today against the host Owls.

The Wolverines have played their usual tough schedule with early losses to perennial state title contenders Fresno and San Francisco among others. Coach Quincy Brewer likes to challenge his players and the nonconference schedule certinaly does that.

Sophomore guard Keon Pledger is talented. He was a little out of control today and tried too hard to force the action. He scored 22 points but was just 6 of 18 from the field. Brewer said that has not been characteristic of  Pledger this season, sio chalk it up to a bad shooting night.

Kirby Gardner had 16 points with David Rawlinson adding 11 with five assists. Big man Thair Heath also looks to have potential he scored 10 and grabbed 11 rebounds. He was with the Wolverines last year but did not play, working his way back from a knee injury. He is going to get better and better as he gains confidence.

The Foothill Conference is loaded again so a repeat will not be easy.


Former Sagehens standouts featured on Minor League Baseball

There is an interesting feature on the minor league basbeall websight ( featuring a trio of former baseball players at Pomona-Pitzer – James Kang, Drew Hedman and James Brunswick.

Hedman graduated in 2009 and Kang and Brunsiwck followed in 2010. They played together on some great teams. Both Hedman and Kang are now playing in the Boston Red Sox organization in the low level minors.

The two decided to get away from baseball this summer so they took a trip to China where they got back in touch with Brunswick who is working there now as an English teacher.

It’s worth the read. It’s titled From Green Monster to Great Wall.