Two days after the Cal State Northridge women's basketball team left Fort Worth, Tex., from its three-game trip, there was a gas explosion that blew out more than 150 windows at the Worthington Hotel, where the Lady Matadors had stayed.
"It was a good thing we were out of there," Coach Leslie Milke said. "We were staying on the side of the building where the explosion was."
While Northridge escaped one disaster, it couldn't sidestep another. The Lady Matadors lost all three games, to North Texas State, Texas Wesleyan and Texas-Arlington.
And what did the players do when they weren't on the court?
"We went to a lot of shopping malls," freshman Joy Ridout said. "There's not a lot to do in Texas."
"We also made fun of the way they all talked down there," junior Michelle Reuss said. "Not to their face, of course. We had a great time, but it was great to get back, especially after losing three games."
CSUN men's basketball Coach Pete Cassidy is normally a happy-go-lucky guy. He has a one-liner for just about any situation--even in defeat. But he hasn't been so much as smiling around the Northridge campus lately.
His team's record is no laughing matter.
The team has Northridge sports information types shuffling back through the record books--for the wrong reason. They're trying to figure out whether an 0-6 start is the worst in school history.
It's probably not. Northridge was 3-13 in 1958-59, the first year the school had a basketball team. In the 1961-62 and '62-63 seasons, the Matadors were a combined 5-45. It is, however, the worst start in Cassidy's 16 years as coach.
Northridge was expected to be 0-2 against Division I teams Utah and Weber State, but not 0-4 against UC Davis, Cal State Sacramento, Biola and Westmont.
Cassidy said a combination of things--none of them good--has led to Northridge's horrendous start.
"We've had a very tough preseason schedule and we were bit pretty hard by the injury bug and that hurt our progress," Cassidy said. "It's really not just one thing. We've played very well in parts of each game, but we haven't put a whole game together yet."
Cassidy has to hope that the Matadors can turn their record around like last season's team--only in a positive sense this time. Last season Northridge won seven of its first 10 games, then dropped 12 of its last 16.
Todd Bowser missed Northridge's game against Westmont after spraining his ankle in the second half of last Saturday's game against Biola. The freshman center from Montclair Prep is averaging seven points and four rebounds. He is expected to return to the lineup when Northridge travels north this weekend to play Cal State Hayward and San Francisco State.
Moorpark College's David Bussey, who scored 19 points in a 76-69 victory over county rival Ventura on Saturday in the title game of the Moorpark tournament, was named the tournament's most valuable player. Moorpark teammate Tom Neumayr also was named to the all-tournament team.
Master's forward Rocky Shipes scored 38 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the Mustangs' 89-85 overtime loss to Cal State San Bernardino on Saturday. Shipes is a 6-4 sophomore from Fresno who enrolled at Master's after not playing basketball for three years.
The loss dropped the Mustangs to 0-7. They play host to Biola tonight at 7:30.
Cal Lutheran (3-3) is off to its best start in school history. The perennially poor Kingsmen surprised Cal Poly Pomona, 96-95, on Tuesday. In that game, four Kingsmen scored in double figures: Steve deLaveaga (31), Lionel Boyce (21), Dave Jacques (12) and James Faulk (10).
Coach Larry Lopez is in his first year and DeLaveaga said the new coach has been the difference for the Kingsmen this season. "Everybody's into it this year," he said. "He's given us a different attitude. It's like night and day. All of us--the guys who start and the guys on the bench--are working harder and we're playing with more confidence."
Becky White, who took over as coach of the women's basketball team at Master's a week before the season began, has also been named coach of the women's volleyball team. White is a former All-American volleyball and basketball player at Biola.
The Valley College women's basketball team, with only two players back from a team that went 19-11 and won the Mountain Valley Conference last season, has picked up where it left off. The Monarchs are off to an 8-1 start with a roster consisting of eight freshman and only three sophomores.
Tina Johnson and Jill Daniels, Valley's top players a year ago, gone. They have been replaced by nine players as Coach Jim Stephens stresses the team philosophy.
"We don't have any real standouts this year, it's just somebody else all the time," he said. "We find ways to win."
Demetra Johnson, a freshman from Dorsey High, is averaging almost 25 points a game to lead the team in scoring.