Monday, November 21, 2011

To Honor A Career

Before I move on to the business portion of this post, I must first extend heartfelt congratulations to my two fall sports for fine 2011 seasons.

Although the players might still feel some immediate disappointment following a one-goal loss at UC San Diego in Sunday's Western Water Polo Association title game, the men's water polo team deserves some props. The Aggies were selected third in the conference's preseason poll, yet they unseated four-time defending champions Loyola Marymount to advance to the championship game for the third time in five years. Furthermore, UC Davis won 22 games to tie the school record set four years ago. All in all, that's a season to be proud of.

The women's volleyball team ended its season on a high note, sweeping Pacific in three sets on Saturday. The victory was a proper sendoff for the program's two seniors, who combined for .567 hitting for the night. One senior, team co-captain Betsy Sedlak, even scored the winning point in each of the three sets. Although the Aggies suffered some losses they probably wish they could have back, they still enjoyed an outstanding year: 21 wins (the most since 1996) and five weeks of votes toward the AVCA Top 25 poll. I'll never stop singing the praises of head coach Jamie Holmes for the way she has transformed this program, and the 2011 year serves as another example of its turnaround.

Incidentally, if anyone wonders why I left the Causeway Classic football game midway through the fourth quarter, that's why. I listened to Colton Silveria's 66-yard run and Sean Kelley's game-sealing field goal while on Highway 50, grabbed the news of the water polo win as I arrived at my house in Davis, then worked the volleyball match that night. A good Saturday, I'd say.

So to seniors Luke Collins, Katie Denny, Walter Eggert, Ryan Hagens, Kevin Peat, Aaron Salit and Betsy Sedlak, congratulations both on your Aggie careers and for your great final seasons.

* * * * *

As always, I use the week of the Thanksgiving holiday to send out a reminder to the athletics staff and coaches that the nomination deadline for the Cal Aggie Athletics Hall of Fame is November 30. Of course, that email casts a relatively narrow net -- anyone is able and encouraged to submit nominations for the CAAHOF awards program.

First, here are a few links to have handy: 

The roster of CAAHOF enshrinees. Check out who has gone in during induction ceremonies past. Get an idea of the high bar required for induction, then think of others who you believe have cleared it.

The CAAHOF/Aggie Legacy selection criteria. You probably know the gist of the award; this link will provide the specifics. Some of the requirements can be a tad quirky, so I'll do my best to pick out some of the more confusing ones later in this blog post.

The CAAHOF nomination form. Fill out this form when submitting someone for the Student-Athlete, the Non-Participant (e.g. coaches, staff, administrators) or Special Recognition Awards (volunteer service to UC Davis athletics).

The Aggie Legacy Award nomination form. Use this form for submitting an individual for UC Davis athletics' newest honor. It's fairly similar to the CAAHOF form, only it focuses on the postcollegiate honors. The "main" Hall of Fame honors what a candidate did as an Aggie, with little bearing on what he/she has done since.

Year-by-year athletics recaps. I built this simple page of links a few years ago to help someone do a quick research project, but I've kept it since. These are the year-in-review reports that I create each June (then update as awards come in). If you're not sure exactly what your candidate accomplished, this is a fantastic resource. It lists major awards (e.g. All-America, conference MVP, Player of the Week) plus school records (game, season or career) and key milestones and achievements. The list goes back to 1999-2000, which was my first full year as a full-time sports information director. If you need information for a student-athlete who participated prior to 1999, either consult that sport's media guides or shoot me an email -- I can often point you in the right direction if I don't have such info immediately handy.

And here are a few key points to know, mostly because they have been common sources of confusion in years past:

A student-athlete being submitted for the 2011-12 induction class must have completed in his/her final contest on or before November 30, 2006. The five-year rule is fairly standard for sports-related halls of fame. Thus, the seniors from the 2005-06 school year or the 2006 fall season are the newly eligible athletes.

A candidate for the Non-Participant who is no longer employed by the university is eligible immediately. Yes, the standard five-year rule applies to those still working for UC Davis in another capacity. But if a coach or administrator retires and separates (human resources jargon) from the university, he or she can be submitted right then and there. This is probably the most misunderstood rule of any.

A candidate need not have graduated from UC Davis to earn induction. While we of course would like all of our student-athletes to have earned their degrees, this is not a dealbreaker for CAAHOF induction so long as the student-athlete made meaningful progress toward a degree while enrolled at UC Davis. The purpose of this rule is to allow consideration for student-athletes who were certainly on their way to their degrees before unusual circumstances interrupted their education.

A CAAHOF nomination is good for a two-year period. This relatively new policy has streamlined the nomination process both for those submitting candidates and for the selection committee. To require fans to resubmit a candidate year after year seemed tedious, especially since the nominee's pertinent info does not change. On the other hand, for the committee to see the same name pop up for six straight years becomes equally laborious: a candidate who was far from the cut in 2004 is not likely to become a prime candidate five years later unless new information comes to light. Thus, a two-year rule provided a happy medium.

In short, it works like this: a nomination submitted by Nov. 30, 2011 puts a candidate up for consideration for the 2011-12 class. If the candidate doesn't make the cut, he/she is automatically resubmitted for the 2012-13 class. No further action is necessary by the original nominator. If the candidate does not earn induction in 2013, he/she must be resubmitted (i.e. the nominator fills out the form again) by November 30, 2013. Best yet, it encourages the nominator to round up some additional support that might help strengthen the candidate's case to the selection committee.

Anyway, the purpose of my email to the staff and coaches is to remind them that the November 30 deadline is coming up. I extend the invitation to anyone in Aggie Nation who wishes to honor a former UC Davis student-athlete, coach or contributor for their role in shaping our history.

In a way, the Cal Aggie Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony is the ultimate Senior Night.

-Mark Honbo, an assistant with the UC Davis athletics communications office, assures the Aggie faithful that his admiration for Stanford All-American and Naismith award winner Jennifer Azzi will not in any way affect the stat-keeping at Tuesday night's women's basketball game vs. USF. After all, he is first and foremost a Jennifer Gross fan.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

We're In! Now What?

The UC Davis men's soccer team has officially punched its ticket to the postseason.

That's right, we're in. For the first time since 2008, the Aggies are playing in the Big West Tournament. The winner of that tournament earns the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

The top four teams were officially sealed after UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara each squeaked out wins on Tuesday night. Headed to the Big West postseason will be UC Irvine, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside.

So we know who's in. But who plays who and where and when and... let's try and break this down.

The first-place team will play the fourth-place team while No. 2 plays No. 3 next Wednesday. The higher-seeded teams will host the games. The winners play each other next Saturday with the highest-seeded team from THAT matchup hosting again.

Problem is, we don't quite know how the teams are seeded.

Here's what we do know:

1. Teams get 3 points for a win and 1 point for a tie.

2. UC Irvine is currently in first place with 19 points and their regular season is over.

3. UC Davis is in second with 16 points and play UC Riverside on Saturday in Riverside.

4. UC Santa Barbara moved into third place after their win on Tuesday and they still have a game on Friday.

5. UC Riverside clinched the last spot with 14 points. They play the Aggies on Saturday. See above.

So now we present - to the best of my ability - the scenarios:

Scenario 1: A UC Davis win on Saturday - regardless of what UCSB does in their game on Friday - would give the Aggies 19 points (it's 3 points for a win) and they would share the Big West regular season title with UC Irvine.  However, because UC Davis beat UC Irvine head-to-head in a pretty thrilling overtime game on Oct. 19, UC Davis would be the No. 1 seed, would play the No. 4 seed (which would probably be UC Riverside), and would host the first-round game next week.

Still with me?

Scenario 2: A UC Davis tie and a UC Santa Barbara loss would keep the Aggies as the No. 2 seed. The Aggies would host the first-round game and would play the No. 3 seed. At that point, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara would be tied in points, but UC Riverside would be the No. 3 seed because they beat the Gauchos in both matches this year. So Aggies vs. Highlanders in Davis.

A UC Davis tie and a UCSB win, however, would push the Gauchos into the No. 2 spot and we'd be third. Aggies vs. Gauchos in Santa Barbara.

Last one... I think.

Scenario 3: UC Davis loses. An Aggie loss and a UCSB loss would give UCR 17 points and bump UC Davis down to third. But an Aggie loss and a UC Santa Barbara win or tie would result in UC Davis ending up as the No. 4 seed. Aggies would play UC Irvine in Irvine.


It would be really exciting if UC Davis got to host the first-round game next Wednesday. And it would be an absolute blast to host the tournament championship if the soccer gods align it all that way.

But here's what it would also mean for UC Davis Athletics Communications.

If men's soccer ends up hosting the Big West Conference Tournament championship game on Saturday, Nov. 12 it would join men's water polo, football and women's volleyball on the list of home events for that day.

Normally there's four of us in the office. Normally. That weekend it happens that both men's and women's basketball will be out of town. The men will open their season at the Basketball Traveler's Tournament in San Diego while the women's team heads to the Pacific Northwest for their 2011-12 opening games.

Our esteemed leader Mike Robles will be on the road with Coach Les and our Aggie men's basketball team.

I have the privilege of joining the women's basketball team in Seattle as the Aggies start their quest back to the NCAA Tournament.

I am also the men's soccer media contact.

Needless to say, that's a scenario that we don't have a point system for.

- Amanda Piechowski is wondering if anyone knows how to get in touch with those scientists who cloned Dolly the sheep a few years ago.