The Occidental College women's basketball team returned Sunday from the Bahamas Goombay Shootout in Nassau. The 8-day trip cost a lot more than air fare; it cost Coach Sue Semaru 3 top players.
Call it "The Trauma in the Bahamas."
Joelle Orton, who averages a team-high 17 points a game, aggravated a stress fracture in her foot. Center Kathy LaPointe, who underwent ankle surgery last summer, injured her good ankle. And forward Melissa VanderPool sustained a knee injury.
Each injury took place in the Tigers' opening game--a 82-58 loss to the Bahamian national team.
Semaru says VanderPool's injury is the most serious.
"She got pushed and she's out for the whole season," she said. "It was horrible."
The Bahamians were not physically imposing, Semaru says, but the international style of play allowed for plenty of clobbering on the court.
"(The referees) were not calling fouls, period," said Semaru, adding that she debated whether to pull the Tigers (4-7) from the game. "We can't blame them--it's just how they play.
"There was no way to re-teach (Occidental) the way to play like that. And I didn't want to. If we changed, we'd be in trouble when we got back to the States. I was afraid of what was happening."
Afterwards, LaPointe felt as if she had done battle with Charles Barkley in the low post.
"It was kind of like football," LaPointe said. "They just body-slammed me. They run up and throw their shoulder and we're not used to that."
When the debacle mercifully ended, the statistics Semaru received from tournament officials were butchered worse than her players. "The stats were atrocious," she said. "They marked one assist per team. You had to question who was taking them and what they knew about basketball."
Semaru commissioned her injured players to take stats for the remaining games.
The gym, too, was anything but top-notch. It was dimly lit and square 3-inch ventilation holes were cut in the wall. The openings created a steady cross-court breeze.
LaPointe says the gym floor was unlike any upon which she has played. "It was kind of like a bumpy linoleum," she said.
In second-round play, Occidental lost to Greenville College of Illinois, 71-65. In the final game, however, the Tigers beat Thiel College of Greenville, Penn., 80-77.
Despite the early pummeling, Semaru says she hopes to take the trip again.
"It was a great experience to see the culture and the island was gorgeous," she said. "We learned what adversity really means, that's for sure."
Possible dream: Hoover High guard John Hillman set some pretty unrealistic expectations for himself in the preseason, but with his current scoring tear, he is quickly reaching many of them.
"At first I'm thinking, 'Wow, I can do this,' " said Hillman, who is averaging nearly 27 points a game. "I set some out-of-the-ordinary goals and I'm achieving them. They're the kind you jokingly have in the back of your mind."
Hillman adds opponents are less and less willing to let him get into his game.
"A lot of times after I make a shot somebody will cheap-shot me," he said. "They're trying to get me riled. You just have to wait and the refs will make a call sooner or later. I just can't fall into (the opponent's) hands."
Que Pasa?: Crescenta Valley High forward Josh Que, a defensive specialist, is out with a sprained ankle and Coach John Goffredo says the Falcon defense is hurting.
Still, Goffredo is wary about creating special defensive alignments to guard standouts such as Hillman.
"You start doing kinky stuff and it backfires on you," he said.
Small package: St. Francis point guard Tom Parada is only 5 feet, 2 inches tall but he managed to tally a team-high 17 points and 8 assists last Tuesday against Loyola, the tallest team in the Del Rey League.
Parada's effort went for naught, however, as the Golden Knights were handed their first home loss, 115-92.