When San Fernando High basketball Coach Dick Crowell dismissed starters Michael Wynn and Sean Williams from the team for violating team rules Friday, he hastened to add that both players appeared uninspired the past several weeks.
"I sensed that their hearts really weren't in it," Crowell said. "They weren't going to quit, but they were looking for a way out. And this was it."
The way Wynn and Williams reacted to Crowell's action appeared to bear out the coach's assessment. Neither player seemed upset about the penalty and both said that although they enjoyed playing basketball their athletic futures lie with football.
Wynn, a junior, and Williams, a senior, formed one of the Valley-area's most potent passing combinations during the past football season, but after Friday's announcement, it looks as though they have played their last game together.
Wynn, a quarterback who completed 108 of 209 passes for 1,614 yards and 24 touchdowns in the fall, was ousted from the basketball team because he missed Friday night's West Valley League game against El Camino Real to attend a family reunion in Lancaster.
Williams, a Times' All-Valley wide receiver who caught 43 passes for 770 yards (17.7 avg.) and 10 touchdowns, was dropped from the roster for numerous violations, according to Crowell, including missing 2 team meetings during the week.
"I told him (Crowell) about the family reunion a week and a half ago," Wynn, 16, said. "I tried all week to get out of it, but I couldn't. . . . I thought maybe he'd understand, but he took it just the wrong way."
Williams, 18, who has made a verbal commitment to attend Utah in the fall, expressed similar sentiments.
"I had to go downtown with my parents to take care of some family business," he said. "But he (Crowell) didn't understand. Sometimes he doesn't like to be wrong."
Crowell, 48, defended his actions. He said that Wynn (who was averaging 9.4 points a game) and Williams (10 points a game) had been playing uninspired basketball ever since San Fernando (8-12, 2-6 in league play) began to struggle the past two weeks.
Crowell added that neither player had shown enough respect for their coach.
"It wasn't always there," he said. "I mean, my players don't have to like me, but I do want them to listen to me and respect me as a coach."
Proud joker: Birmingham basketball Coach Elliot Turret is rarely at a loss for one-liners.
Whether he's discussing the state of his team or the state of the nation, Turret consistently cracks jokes about the subject matter.
On Thursday, the topic was grades and 3 of his players--forward Jason Wallace, guard Glenn Sucich and center Gabriel Kruchinski--who received straight A's on their 20-week report cards.
"Straight A's in all six classes," Turret said. "It's probably the first time this season they've been 6 for 6 in anything.
"Actually, the 4.0 in grades is better than what they've been averaging on the court."
That might hold true for Kruchinski (3.1 points a game), but the statistics of Sucich (14.2 points, 5.9 rebounds) and Wallace (10.9 points, 7.2 rebounds) easily exceed that figure.
Now, Turret is trying to transform excellence in the classroom into victories on the court.
"I've got an idea," he said. "After every game, we'll have an academic decathlon. I'll take my three guys against any other team's top three and the winner gets the victory."
Add grades: Report cards may have been a joking matter to Turret, but they were serious business for coaches Steve Miller of North Hollywood and Jeff Halpern of Reseda, whose playoff-bound teams lost players to academic ineligibility.
Junior guard Duane Braxton of North Hollywood (13-4, 8-0 in Mid-Valley League play), the team leader in assists (5.8 a game), was ruled academically ineligible, as were starting forward Michael Hawkins, a junior, and senior reserve William Childs of Reseda (8-9, 6-2).
All three will miss the rest of the basketball season.
The Cleveland beat: Any fan sitting in the Cleveland gym during pregame warm-ups has been subjected to it--a veritable auditory assault from 2 huge public-address speakers that rest on either side of the scorer's table. Blasting forth at high volume is music chosen by the Cleveland players.
Monitoring the stereo system--actually a portable tape player placed before the P. A--is Coach Bob Braswell, who occasionally twists a knob to adjust the treble and bass. He also has been known to pump up the volume if he's in the mood.
"The kids like it," Braswell said. "And we get a good reaction from our fans."
Indeed, Cavalier fans have been known to break into spontaneous dance in the aisles of the grandstands, sometimes in groups of 10 or 15. Which, of course, only adds to the home-court atmosphere.
The music is recorded by players on a cassette on Braswell's stereo system at home.
"They're over there all the time," he said. "I pretty much let them tape the stuff they want to hear."