The four teams that were expected to fight it out for the men's basketball title in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. are doing just that, but this week's surprise is that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is alone at the top.
UC Riverside, Cal State Los Angeles and Cal State Bakersfield have all received a top 20 ranking. But they're all looking up at San Luis Obispo, which beat Riverside last weekend, 75-66, and ran its CCAA record to 8-1, 18-4 overall. Riverside and Cal State L.A. are next at 7-2, followed by Bakersfield at 6-3.
It's not especially surprising for Coach Ernie Wheeler to have a competitive team. He has won 252 games in his 14 seasons at San Luis Obispo and his teams have led the nation in defense seven times. Three of his team's losses were suffered in December when most of the team had the flu. But on paper, the Mustangs probably have the least imposing lineup among the contenders.
Even so, they figure to go into the last weekend of the schedule in first place. The Mustangs will play at Chapman College Friday and at Cal State Dominguez Hills Saturday, then will have showdowns with CSLA and Bakersfield in the final week.
It would be particularly advantageous for the Mustangs to win the league title, since the champion will have the home court for the conference's first postseason tournament. San Luis Obispo is the most far-flung outpost in the CCAA.
"My feeling is the conference is really good this year, with great athletes," Wheeler said. "For us to beat Riverside, that was a great win for us. We've still got five games left, three on the road, so the bubble could burst. I don't think anyone's in the driver's seat in this league."
The Mustangs are led by 6-3 junior forward Sean Chambers. The high-jumping transfer from Cuesta Junior College is averaging 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3.6 assists, and his statistics are even better in conference play. Morover, Chambers has become the Mustangs' big-play man, as he demonstrated in two victories over the weekend.
Playing all 40 minutes against UC Riverside, he produced 13 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. The night before, in an overtime victory against Cal Poly Pomona, he had 21 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocked shots and 3 steals, and scored 8 of his team's 12 points in overtime.
The Mustangs' big man is 6-9 center Jim van Winden, a four-year letterman who had 33 points and 14 rebounds in the two weekend games, sinking 12 of 16 shots.
Point guard James Wells runs the show. He had 14 assists over the weekend. His backcourt partner is Chico Rivera, one of four players scoring in double figures. Last year they had reversed roles, and both are capable of playing the point down the stretch.
The forwards are 6-8 Darren Masingale and Melvin Parker. In a league that usually lacks big men, Wheeler's ability to bring 6-10 Mike Chellsen off the bench gives him added versatility.
"We still have a lot of games to play, (but) it's nice to be in the position we're in," Wheeler said.
Bakersfield has the curious distinction of being the only contender that has allowed more points than it has scored.
Bakersfield is allowing opponents an average of a half-point more than it scores. For the season, Bakersfield shows a two-point margin of victory to go with a 15-7 record. The other contenders all show healthy margins in league games--UC Riverside 9.7 points, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 7.4 and Cal State L.A. 6.5.
The Claremont-Mudd swimming team was ecstatic recently when, for the first time, it beat Cal State Northridge, defending Division II national champion. The Stags, who have been Division III runner-up the last two years--both times to Kenyon College of Ohio--beat Northridge, 61-50, in what were described as monsoon conditions by Claremont Coach Mike Sutton.
Despite the rain and a 45-minute delay, the Stags set two pool records. Tom Harrison swam the 200-yard individual medley in 1 minute 56.1 seconds, and Don Kuhn recorded 9:44.4 in the 1,000-yard freestyle. Harrison and Ned Busch each qualified for Division III nationals in two events, and Kuhn and Bob Moore qualified for one apiece.
The Stags are gearing up for Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference meet Feb. 20-22, and the national meet in Akron, Ohio, March 20-22.
The Cal State Los Angeles women's tennis program got a quick boost when Philippine freshman Edna Olivarez recently enrolled.
Olivarez, 19, a resident of Manila, was the Philippine 18-and-under champion and a bronze medalist in the Southeast Asian Games in December. Cal State L.A. competes in Division II tennis, but Coach Tom Yamaguchi said that Olivarez is as good as 90% of the women in Division I. Yamaguchi recruited Olivarez through friends in the Asian community.
Olivarez made her presence felt immediately, reaching the quarterfinals of the Women's Intercollegiate tournament last week before losing to UCLA's Alison Cooper, who was seeded third.
Small College Notes