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Micelli's Communication Efforts Equal His Playing Time: None

March 02, 1995|MIKE HISERMAN

Peter Micelli didn't show up for Cal State Northridge's basketball game at UC Irvine on Wednesday and--surprise!--this time everyone knew exactly why.

Well, almost exactly.

Seems that Micelli woke up sometime around 2 a.m. with symptoms usually connected either to food poisoning or a nasty stomach virus.

As he so graphically reported, Micelli experienced these symptoms "every 45 minutes, just like clockwork."

Anyway, sometime around 4:30 a.m., Micelli checked himself into the hospital, where he was treated for dehydration and released. He spent most of the afternoon sleeping and he was too weak to go along when Northridge's team bus left campus at 3 p.m.

Micelli, Northridge's team captain, hasn't played in the Matadors' last three games.

The odd thing about that is, he was healthy for the first two.

To backtrack a bit, Northridge last Saturday played Southern Utah needing a victory to earn at least a share of the American West Conference championship.

Micelli didn't show up, choosing instead to attend his sister's wedding and reception. Northridge lost, 75-72.

On Tuesday, Micelli rode pine throughout a 90-80 nonconference loss to the University of San Diego.

Coach Pete Cassidy, choosing to sidestep the issue rather than rip a player publicly, lauded the play of post players Tom Samson, Shane O'Doherty and Mike Dorsey when asked why Micelli did not play against San Diego. Micelli, conversely, didn't pull any punches. He said he felt both "back-stabbed" and "betrayed" by his coach.

Had he known he would be benched?

"Didn't have a clue," Micelli said.

There is, it turns out, a good reason for that.

Subtract a few strained and measured words shared before Monday's practice, and coach and player haven't talked in a week.

Micelli, after his decision to stay at the wedding reception, didn't call the basketball office Saturday night to inform the coaches of his whereabouts or even to ask who won.

Nothing the next morning either, when he skipped a film session.

Nothing Monday morning, or early afternoon.

Nothing before 4 p.m. on Monday, when Cassidy walked into the gymnasium to start practice.

At that point, Micelli approached, wanting to talk.

"But he was real cold to me," Micelli said. "He basically just said, 'Do what you've got to do,' and just walked away."

That same afternoon, Cassidy said that Micelli would not be disciplined, but by the end of the game Tuesday, the coach obviously had changed his mind.

Micelli never shed his warmups, and Samson, a seldom-used sophomore reserve, played 21 minutes.

After the game, Cassidy was asked whether Micelli, a winner of the team's Coaches' Award and Most Improved Player accolades in past seasons, had fallen behind Samson on the depth chart.

"It was that way tonight," Cassidy said. "We'll look and see what the future brings."

Northridge has only the American West Conference tournament, March 10-11, in Cedar City, Utah, left to play.

Here's hoping Micelli and Cassidy find time to huddle for a heart-to-heart sometime before then.

As the situation stands, coach and player both look bad.

Cassidy appears insensitive because it seems as if he is punishing a player for being loyal to his family when all he really wanted was a timely explanation.

Micelli has no viable excuse as to why he did not call Cassidy about his absence from the Southern Utah game, a game he had said "was the biggest of my life."

Micelli told his coaches that the wedding was scheduled to start around 2 p.m., and that he expected to be there for the start of the 7:30 p.m. game.

As it was, at tipoff Micelli was about 20 miles away, offering a toast to his sister, Pauline, and her groom at the reception.

Micelli says he expected to make that toast about two hours earlier.

What he believed to be a 2:30 start time for the wedding was instead his appointment to show up for more than an hour of family and wedding-party photographs. The ceremony started about 4:15.

The wedding mass lasted an hour. After that, more photos were taken.

Then it was off to the reception.

Then there was formality of individually greeting the guests.

Then the toast.

The wedding was an emotional time for the entire Micelli family. A little more than a year ago, Nicholas Micelli, Peter's father, died suddenly of heart failure.

Of the three children, Peter is the only male, so he took the place of his father, walking his sister down the aisle, while discreetly shooting glances at his watch.

Meanwhile, back at the Northridge Gym, Micelli's coaches and teammates also fidgeted, wondering when their second-leading scorer and rebounder might join them.

"Just when the jump ball went up I was looking to the door thinking, 'OK, Pete's going to come in any minute,' " freshman guard Trenton Cross said. "Then, at halftime I was like, 'He'll be here any minute.' It surprised me he would miss that game."

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