Coach Kevin Wilson could have been blindfolded, and he still would have known which tape to grab.
Chapman vs. Cal State Dominguez Hills, Feb. 27, 1987.
He popped it into his VCR, and, once again, watched the final 26 seconds of Chapman College's final basketball game of the season.
He watched the collision under the basket, occurring after Chris Perine's shot was blocked. And, once again, the Panthers didn't get the go-ahead basket as Perine drew the foul. This time, the Panthers lost. Again.
Same tape. Same foul. Same outcome.
"I kept watching this all summer," said Wilson, whose team lost, 68-65, in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. tournament at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
He shook his head. Wilson, entering his fourth season as Chapman's coach, still felt his team was victimized by two questionable calls in the game's final 30 seconds.
But Wilson, ever the optimist, remembered the bright side of last season, even after looking at the tape almost nine months later.
"It just shows me that we got a lot out of what we had last year," he said. "A lot of people picked us to finish last. And this year, a lot of people are picking us to win it."
Which is why preseason predictions are exactly that. Predictions.
After being picked to finish last in the CCAA, the Panthers surprised everyone--maybe themselves, too--by going 5-2 in the first swing through the conference and eventually finishing in a tie for fourth place.
Now, perhaps on the basis of that showing and the return of senior Kelly Huston and sophomore Dave Roth--both honorable mention all-CCAA choices--the Panthers have been picked to finish third in a poll of conference coaches and sports information directors.
Considering that Chapman has just four lettermen returning and 11 newcomers, third might seem a bit optimistic. However, transition is a word you can use when talking about almost every other team in the CCAA, as not a single All-Conference player returns and just one second-team All-Conference player returns this season.
Wilson views this as a normal occurrence.
"I think it is . . . in California," he said. "I think it's pretty transitory. It's probably the most new people we've had since I've been here. At Minnesota, we had that big a jump one year with a new starting five."
Chapman, which finished 15-14 in 1986-87, opens its season tonight at 8:05 against Christian Heritage College in a nonconference game at Hutton Sports Center in Orange. The schedule is certainly favorable early as Chapman plays its first eight games at home, including a Thanksgiving tournament next week.
On the court, the Panthers have two big spots to fill, those of leading scorer Jon Samuelson and leading rebounder Karl Tompkins. Also gone are Chris Perine, Mo Thompson and Alan Erickson, all of whom played a lot last season.
Samuelson and Tompkins used up their eligibility. Apparently, Erickson left because he was homesick, Perine because of academic problems, and Thompson for personal reasons.
"I was talking to Dave Roth the other day," Wilson said. "And I asked him, 'Dave, would you trade a point guard and two wings, Dean Balcao, Russ Ortega and Mike Minier straight up, for Mo, Alan and Chris? And Dave said, 'No, not in a million years.' And, I agree."
Balcao, Ortega and Minier are all junior college transfers, and Balcao and Ortega will be starting tonight. Balcao, a 6-foot, 170-pound junior transfer from San Joaquin Delta, was the starting point guard there as his team finished in the final four of the state tournament.
Ortega, a 6-5, 180-pound junior wing who played for Cosumnes River (Sacramento), scored 13 points and had 8 rebounds in Chapman's annual Cardinal and Gray intrasquad game last week. Minier, who is a 6-5, 185-pound junior wing, also had a successful community college career, playing for state runner-up Saddleback College. Although Minier isn't starting tonight, Wilson will get him into the game quickly.
"We'll be running in eight guys in the first six minutes," Wilson said. "They're all that close. We'll have to see. Some guys are good in practice, and there are some guys that are game players."
Two players Wilson won't have to worry about are Huston and Roth. Huston, the Panthers' second-leading scorer with an average of 13.5 last season, has vastly improved, Wilson said. Roth was the leading scorer for Chapman in its conference games (14.0), and he is better defensively this year. Both Roth and Huston are versatile. Roth can play the wing or move to a guard spot, and Huston can play center or wing. The other starter is 6-3 senior guard Wayne Briggs, who had little playing time last season.
"He didn't do too much in high school until he got really good his senior year at Katella," Wilson said of Briggs. "Then he played in the Orange County All-Star game. I'm hoping he'll do the same thing here. I think he realizes it's a one-year deal now. He should be a good player this year for us."
N 20 Heritage 8:05 N 24 Grand Canyon 8:05 N 27-28 *Chapman TBA D 2 Hawaii Pacific 8:05 D 12 Point Loma 8:05 D 18 Fresno Pacific 8:05 D 19 Seattle Pacific 8:05 D 29-30 *Puget Sound TBA J 2 at Azusa Pacific 7:30 J 5 UC Davis 8:05 J 7 Barry University 8:05 J 11 Athletes in Action 8:05 J 15 **Dominguez Hills 8:05 J 22 **at Bakersfield 7:30 J 23 **at Cal Poly SLO 8:05 J 28 **Cal Poly Pomona 8:05 J 30 **at Riverside 8:05 F 4 **Northridge 8:05 F 6 **Cal State L.A. 8:05 F 9 **at Dominguez Hills 8:05 F 11 **Bakersfield 8:05 F 13 **Cal Poly SLO 8:05 F 18 **at Cal Poly Pomona 7:30 F 20 **Riverside 8:05 F 25 **at Northridge 7:30 F 27 **at Cal State L.A. 8:05
**Calif. Collegiate Athletic Assn. games