Pepperdine's Dwayne Polee was named the West Coast Athletic Conference player of the year this week, and his coach, Jim Harrick, was named the league's coach of the year for the third time in the four seasons.
Few who saw Polee play, or Harrick coach, would dispute those choices.
Polee didn't single-handedly lead the Waves to the WCAC championship, Harrick's fourth title in the last five years. But Pepperdine might have finished back in the pack if not for the junior guard's quick hands and strong defensive play.
He is an old hand at receiving most valuable player honors. In 1981, Polee was named the Los Angeles City 4-A player of the year after he led Manual Arts High School to the City championship.
Polee was Pepperdine's money man; when the game was on the line he usually delivered. This year the Waves won 10 games after trailing at half time, and it was usually Polee, with a steal and a basket or a steal and an assist in the waning minutes, who was chiefly responsible for those wins.
In a 57-54 comeback victory over the University of San Diego that gave Pepperdine (23-8, 11-1) the WCAC title and an NCAA tournament berth, it was Polee's two last-minute steals and his driving layup after one of them that pulled out another cliffhanger for the Waves, who had trailed at half time, 28-26.
He was Pepperdine's leading scorer, averaging 16.1 points in an attack with four other regulars who averaged in double figures. In 31 games, he also had 150 assists, 45 steals and 111 rebounds. The team's best defensive player, he shut down quite a few of the other teams' best scorers.
He also led the team in turnovers with 95, but that happens when players take chances. And, as Harrick said earlier, "Dwayne has been more consistent than inconsistent."
Pepperdine forwards Eric White, a sophomore, and Anthony Frederick, a junior, were named to the All-WCAC first team; center Levy Middlebrooks was named the league's freshman of the year, and junior guard Jon Korfas received honorable mention.
Harrick's Waves won 17 of their last 19 games and were 13-0 at home, the first season that a Pepperdine cage team went undefeated in Firestone Fieldhouse. The 23 wins were the most for a Pepperdine basketball team since the 1945-46 club finished 27-8 for Coach Al Duer.
Like Dwayne Polee, Howard Elzer of Beverly Hills has played on championship basketball teams--15 of them in fact--in Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks Department leagues.
Elzer has had more experience than Polee--he's 52 and has been playing in Rec leagues for 25 years.
"You name the gym and I've been there," says Elzer, a former newspaper sports writer who smartened up and went into business, and now owns a plexiglass manufacturing firm in Beverly Hills.
A UCLA and Lakers fan, Elzer played guard for two years on the Beverly Hills High School varsity. He is player-coach of a team called The Place, which last won the Los Angeles city championship in 1982, and since 1959 he has played in three recreation department leagues.
"It's a helluva high to get on the court and play ball," he said. "It's good for the mind as well as for the body."
The 34th Shrine All-Star High School Football Classic would have been played last year at the Rose Bowl. But Rose Bowl officials canceled the game June 14, 10 days before it was to take place, because a motocross event had left the field in unplayable condition.
So the 34th will be played July 27 at East Los Angeles College's Weingart Stadium.
Dom Domino, Shrine Game managing director, said he had hoped to schedule the game, which has raised more than $1 million for the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children in Los Angeles, at the Coliseum, where it was played from 1952 through 1973.
But he said that "during negotiations, the Coliseum scheduled a motocross race on our date of July 20. Our only alternative at that point was to book Weingart Stadium, with a smaller seating capacity of almost 21,000, rather than cancel the game again."