Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Home for College Blog

The new College Beat Blog is up and running OVER AT THE NEW ADDRESS.

There might still be a few kinks to work out, but I'm planning to start posting right away.

Please change your bookmarks if you made them, and I'll meet you over there soon!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cal Poly run comes to an end

Well, the Cal Poly women’s basketball team’s run has come to an end at the Big West Tournament, falling to eventual champion UC Santa Barbara in the semifinals.
That just about wraps up the winter season for Cal Poly athletics, minus what has probably been the best story of the season — wrestler Chad Mendes, who hopes to complete his undefeated season this coming week at the NCAA Championships. (I’m working on another Mendes feature for the middle of the week, so look for that.)
The conclusion of the winter season all but wraps up my tenure on the college beat, at least for the immediate future.
Other than a couple of stories I’ve had on the backburner, I probably won’t be taking on much on the Cal Poly beat this spring. Because of some changes around the sports desk, and in my own life, I’ve decided to pass the torch to one of our other reporters.
In the meantime, I’ll be filling in on the desk, editing and laying out the section, along with some general-assignment reporting, i.e. alumni updates, action and outdoors sports coverage and possibly a column. Stories that don’t fit on the college and prep beats, like the kayak series and the big-wave surfing piece that our readers really seemed to enjoy.
I’ve been covering college sports in SLO since 2000, so I still hope to get out to Cal Poly and Cuesta College from time to time for features and various columns. But the day-to-day beat work will be handled by someone else.
When we sort out the details, I’m sure the new reporter will let you know and pick up where I left off on the blog.
I’ll still be looking for column and story ideas, on and off the college beat, if you want to pass them along to Thanks for following my stuff over the years.

Friday, March 14, 2008

They call her Sparkle for a reason

I’ve been covering Cal Poly basketball since the turn of the century (that makes me sound much older than I am), and I’m not sure I’ve seen a more impressive individual performance down the stretch than we saw from senior guard Sparkle Anderson today.
Sparkle. I mean, the name says it all.
Anderson scored six of her season-high 18 points in the final 71 seconds as the Mustangs overcame a 19-point deficit to upset Pacific 79-76 in the quarterfinals of the Big West Conference Tournament. The Mustangs' comeback victory has been, by far, the most entertaining game of the tournament.
Now, I’m somewhat exhausted, having battled SoCal traffic and worked a 14-hour day yesterday covering both the men’s and women’s teams, but I can’t come up with many better performances by Mustangs on the hardwood.
Anderson started Thursday’s rally with a turnaround jumper with 8:50 left to cut the lead to three.
She also came up with a key steal with 1:56 left and hit Megan Harrison with a full-court baseball pass that kept the Mustangs within three and set the stage for her late heroics.
The senior guard hit a game-tying 3-pointer on the following possession with 1:11 left, hit two free throws to take the lead for good with 26.8 ticks left and added a third free throw with 1.1 seconds remaining.
All this from a 5-foot-2 guard who missed much of the last season with a major knee injury and still plays with a brace and a noticeable limp on that bum knee.
Anderson, a fifth-year senior, has set a school record by appearing in 117 games. In the regular-season finale against Cal State Northridge, she broke a 23-year-old record of 114 career games set by Terrie McDonald from 1981-84.
Again, I’m running on fumes at this point, and it's apples and oranges, but I’d have to put Anderson’s performance up there with Kameron Gray’s outing against USC on Dec. 23, 2003, the day of the San Simeon earthquake when the Cal Poly guard scored 20 of his career-high 32 points in the final 11 minutes of a 93-78 victory at USC.
Gray, who had a tooth knocked out in the first half of the USC game, added 12 rebounds in the win over the Trojans, in what I would argue is the best single-game performance I’ve seen by a Cal Poly hoopster.
Then again, Anderson’s performance came in an elimination game, in the Big West Tournament, in what was looking like the final game of her college career.
Now she gets one more game, Friday’s semifinal meeting with rival UC Santa Barbara.

That's all I got for now. I need to catch some zzzs before tomorrow's game. In the meantime, what are your most memorable individual performances by Cal Poly basketball players? Comment below.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It 'wasn’t a pretty game to watch'

Finally, it’s over.
Instead of this prolonging a season filled with putrid shooting performances – from the arc, from the paint and from the line – the Cal Poly men’s basketball team made an early exit from the Big West Tournament on Wednesday.
The sixth-seeded Mustangs lost 62-54 to seventh-seeded UC Riverside in a fitting conclusion to their dismal season, hitting just 36.7 percent of their floor shots making just one FG in the first 17 minutes.
It was the only upset of the day.
UC Riverside head coach Jim Woolridge probably put it best, saying it “wasn’t a pretty game to watch.”
No it wasn’t.
Cal Poly’s shooting struggles – missing 13 of its first 14 shots and shooting 18 percent in the first half – was reminiscent of last year’s opener by the women’s team, which shot 16 percent in the first half of a 70-67 loss to Long Beach State.
This year, the Cal Poly women got off to a much better start, shooting 41.9 percent this time around, sprinting to a 29-9 lead before the seats in the Anaheim Convention Center were even warm. Then again, the seats were cold for most of the day as only a few hundred showed up for the opener – although the Big West never announced an attendance figure, probably for that exact reason.
What SoCal basketball fans missed was Cal Poly’s women’s team finishing off UC Irvine by shooting 56 percent from the floor in the second half and hitting nine of their final 11 free throws.
So for one more day, at least, Cal Poly basketball is alive and kicking.
The Mustang women play Pacific on Thursday.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

4 wins + 4 days = Big Dance

The sixth-seeded Cal Poly men’s basketball team (12-17, 7-9) will try to pull off the unthinkable this week, winning four games in four days to advance to its first NCAA Tournament.
The Mustangs open the tournament Wednesday night against seventh-seeded UC Riverside (8-20, 4-12) in the first round at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Four wins doesn’t seem like such a daunting task until you realize Cal Poly hasn’t won four straight all year and has put together a winning streak only twice (the best of which was a three-game streak in November).
But hey, a sixth seed has won this thing before. Don’t believe it? San Jose State, yes, the Spartans, took the tournament as the sixth seed in 1996 – only the tournament was a three-day event back then.
Wipe the Spartans’ win off the books and nobody lower than a fourth seed has won the tournament since it began in 1976.

See Tuesday’s paper for a story on all-conference selections and Wednesday’s paper for tournament previews for both the men’s and women’s teams.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Big West Tourney seedings set

Big West Conference
Men’s Seedings
UC Santa Barbara (1)
Cal State Northridge (2)
Cal State Fullerton (3)
Pacific (4)
UC Irvine (5)
Cal Poly (6)
UC Riverside (7)
Long Beach State (8)

Big West Tournament
First Round (Anaheim)
Long Beach State vs. UC Irvine, 6 p.m.
UC Riverside vs. Cal Poly, 8:30 p.m.

Women’s Seedings
UC Santa Barbara (1)
UC Davis (2)
UC Riverside (3)
Pacific (4)
Cal Poly (5)
Cal State Fullerton (6)
Long Beach State (7)
UC Irvine (8)

Big West Tournament
First Round (Anaheim)
UC Irvine vs. Cal Poly, noon
Long Beach State vs. Cal State Fullerton, 2:30 p.m.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Poly football picks up another QB

Cabrillo College quarterback and punter Harlan Prather, who made an official visit to Cal Poly last month, has decided to walk on for the Mustangs next fall, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Prather, a 6-foot, 210-pounder out of San Lorenzo Valley High (i.e. Jordan Beck's old stomping grounds), was an All-Coast Conference selection after passing for 2,159 yards and 27 touchdowns in a season and a half as Cabrillo’s starter.
While Cal Poly returns 10 of its 11 offensive starters next season, including quarterback Jonathan Dally, Prather could make an impact as a punter.
Cal Poly is looking for a replacement for Tim Chicoine, who averaged 42.5 yards on his 46 punts last season.
Jake West and Andrew Gardner are currently listed as the Mustangs’ punters during Spring Drills.