Their eyes seemed red and bleary, their legs a little wobbly. Their shooting touch was unsteady, but San Fernando Coach Dick Crowell chalked it up to a road trip and a long layoff.
After winning a first-round game in the Las Vegas Eldorado tournament, the catatonic Tigers lost to host Eldorado in the second round. San Fernando fell in its third and final game too, but Crowell figured that its 12-day layoff before the tournament and the four-hour bus ride to the event finally had taken effect.
Until he checked out of the hotel.
As Crowell signed the final tab, he noticed that a group of players had charged a series of videotape rentals to the bill on the first night of their stay.
"The hotel offered tape rentals," Crowell said. "Nothing X-rated or anything, just regular movies."
In terms of the movies' effect, though, it was strictly horror fare. Night of the Living Dead comes close to describing how San Fernando played in its last two games.
Crowell said that after winning their first-round game, players were given a 2 a.m. curfew because the second-round game wasn't scheduled until 7:30 the following evening.
Sounds reasonable, you say? Well, the VCR wasn't even getting warmed up at 2.
"The bill said they had signed out tapes at 3, 5 and 7 in the morning," Crowell said. "It turns out that we went out for brunch, and they slept the rest of the day when we got back."
They napped during the game too.
"I told them that when you snooze, you lose," Crowell said.
Old habits die hard: Jermoine Brantley says that it was all a misunderstanding. And, apparently, it still is.
For the first two years of his varsity basketball career at Granada Hills, Brantley answered to the first name of Jamal. He now admits that that's where the problem all started, and that it was his fault.
"A bunch of the kids in the neighborhood always called me Jamal because they couldn't remember Jermoine," said Brantley, who lives in Los Angeles. "Jermoine has always been my name, but nobody was getting it right when I started at Granada Hills, either, so I told them they could call me Jamal. But I told Coach that when he wrote it down for the record that I wanted to be called Jermoine."
Well, something is still amiss. When his coach, Bob Johnson, recently called Brantley to the telephone, Brantley answered to Jamal.
Does Brantley still react when called Jamal?
"He does to me," Johnson said.