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Meet Mr. Nice : Last Man on 49ers Team Is a Shy Sophomore Who Considers It an Honor Just to Suit Up to Sit on Bench

February 18, 1988|DICK WAGNER | Times Staff Writer

Matsuno knows his role on the team and does not complain. "I go into each game with an open mind, knowing anything can happen," he said.

"He's a great practice player," said Greenberg. "He has an excellent basketball IQ and is very coachable. He listens and hears what you're saying. (But) he has to improve his shot."

And so Matsuno waits for his time to come and thinks about the future.

"I hope to do a lot more before my career is over," he said. "Now I'm just trying to learn. I have to get stronger and have more confidence in shooting. I'll be ready next year."

Matsuno, as usual, did not play last Saturday night at Pacific. His father, Kinya Matsuno, had come from San Francisco and made sure he was there early to see Mike warm up. "It's a big thrill for me," Kinya said.

The next day, as the 14-8 Long Beach team gathered at the Stockton airport, Matsuno sat laughing with teammates Rudy Harvey, Morlon Wiley and Andre Purry.

What he had said the night before--"I really feel part of the team"--was true.

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