For some unknown reason, Cal State Northridge basketball Coach Pete Cassidy does not like his team referred to as the Matadors.
Maintenance workers at UC Davis had placed a placard with the word Matadors over the opponents' slot on the scoreboard at Recreation Hall, but when Cassidy saw it during a shoot-around six hours before the scheduled start of Tuesday's game he quickly asked that it be changed to read simply "Northridge." Davis officials obliged.
When questioned about his request, Cassidy was evasive, at first declining to comment. Then he said, "As a basketball coach, I don't like the idea of people saying we play Matador defense."
A cute line but hardly reason enough to warrant the switch.
Pressed further, Cassidy refused to budge. "Uh-uh, no way I am touching that one," he said.
An inside joke, perhaps?
Early raves: Cal State Northridge and UC Riverside are the early season choices as the top mens basketball teams in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn.
Northridge (4-4) was the choice in a preseason poll and Riverside is off to a 9-0 start.
Which team is the favorite at this early juncture?
Bob Hamilton, coach of UC Davis, says Riverside. And his judgment should carry some weight. Davis played Riverside on Monday and Northridge on Tuesday. The Aggies lost to Riverside, 77-71, then dropped a 66-65 decision to Northridge.
"Riverside is ahead right now," Hamilton said. "It depends on how they hold up without a real post man. Right now they're playing with two power forwards but can get away with it because they shoot so well.
"I was really impressed with Northridge tonight, though. They have a lot of possibilities. We played our best basketball of the season the last two games and lost both of them."
Bolden beautiful: Forward Pat Bolden needs only 78 points to crack Northridge's top 10 in career scoring.
The 6-5 senior has 765 points. Ben Balke, who scored 843 points from 1979-83, is 10th on the list.
Bolden is averaging 16 points a game. Northridge has at least 18 games left this season. If Bolden stays on his current pace, he would finish sixth with 1,053 points, one behind Mark Cooley.
Jim Malkin, who played on the first four Northridge teams, is the career scoring leader. He had 1,295 points in 94 games for a 14.8 average.
Bolden's career average is 9.2.
Local Aggie: Center Kevin Black, a 6-8 freshman from Chaminade High is one of UC Davis' most promising young players.
Black had 4 points and 4 rebounds in 22 minutes against Northridge on Tuesday after scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the second half against UC Riverside on Monday.
Tom Terrific: Moorpark College guard Tom Neumayr was named Western State Conference player of the week for his performance in the Crown City tournament at Pasadena College. Neumayr, a 6-4 sophomore from Thousand Oaks, scored 25 points in the Raiders' 88-86 win over Canyons in the Consolation championship game.
Road to nowhere: Lee Smelser, basketball coach at College of the Canyons, was worried that snowy conditions would prevent his team from driving to Pasadena to participate in the Crown City tournament last week. The road, however, was open and the Cougars made it to their opener, which they lost to Pasadena, 98-76.
Afterward, Smelser wasn't sure that law-enforcement officials made the correct decision.
"When I got home from the game, I felt like calling the Highway Patrol and asking them why they opened the road," Smelser said.
Playoff expansion: The NCAA Division II football playoffs will expand from eight to 16 teams next season.
The expansion is welcomed by Bob Hiegert, athletic director at Cal State Northridge, who said increased playoff participation puts football more in line with other sports.
"Traditionally, football has had fewer teams than any other sport because of the cost of putting games on," Hiegert said. "There should be more than eight Division II schools in the United States that qualify for the playoffs."
Under the new structure, teams must be finished with their schedules by the second week of November. The last two weeks of the month would be used for regional games.
"We're excited because in the past, the likelihood of two West Coast teams going to the playoffs was very limited," Hiegert said. "The new system should create better balance."
Final stats: Albert Fann of Cal State Northridge finished the season as the top kickoff return specialist in Division II. The freshman from Cleveland High gained 468 yards on 16 returns for a 29.3 average.
Kip Dukes of Northridge was fifth in punt returns with 262 yards on 19 returns for a 13.8 average. Punter Trent Morgan was fourth in the nation with a 43.0 average.
Joe Monarrez of Cal Lutheran was ninth in receiving with 54 catches for 511 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Bound for Division I: The Oregon Board of Higher Education voted, 9-1, Friday to upgrade Portland State's athletic program to NCAA Division I-AA in football and Division I in all other sports by the 1990-91 school year.