Friday, December 7, 2012

Men's Hoop Memories

Now physically separated from Hickey Gym, I have to make more strategic trips to our historical archive, which remains in a storage closet near the Dick Lewis Training Room. Odd place with an odd smell, too -- sort of a combination of weed oil, NCR paper, dust and I'm sure a few trapped rodents.

I paid a visit to finish up research for the Cal Aggie Athletics Hall of Fame nominations. (No, I won't tell you who I was looking up, but suffice to say I had to dig into our Division II non-scholarship era for a couple of candidates.) Mike Robles also visited to track down some basketball fact for another school. Apparently, UC Davis was the opponent in the first-ever three-point shot in UC Riverside men's basketball history. If this ends up on an episode of Jeopardy, Merv Griffin will roll in his grave.

Also in my hunt was information about the 1973 UC Davis softball team, which ran the table during its conference-championship season. The Aggies went 6-0 in league that year, 7-0 overall. Yes, that's correct -- only one non-league game, a 6-2 victory over Humboldt State, which would become not only a leaguemate but a great conference and region rival during Kathy DeYoung's tenure with the softball program. The team's catcher, Karen Glimstad, hit .583 (14-for-24) and slugged (.983) with 14 RBIs for the year.

However, in the hunt for our various facts and factoids, Mike and I stumbled upon two relatively obscure moments in our Aggie men's basketball team's history, neither of which appear in the boxscores and both of which I photographed for, well, you.

The first was a page in the 1984-85 scorebook:

If it hasn't already, your eyes should immediately head to the top of the image:

That's right, Aggie fans. More avid basketball enthusiasts know this already, but shortly before he began his storied NBA career, and two full decades prior to guiding San Antonio to its first league title, Gregg Popovich served at the helm of Division III Pomona-Pitzer from 1979 to 1986.

Look closely, and you'll see that Coach Hamilton's Aggies won the game, 81-61. A few other names on the UC Davis half of the sheet are worth mentioning, too. No. 20 Jason Rabedeaux later replaced Don Haskins as the head coach at UTEP. He and No. 14 Angelo Rivers are now enshrined in the Cal Aggie Athletics Hall of Fame. Oh, and don't feel bad for No. 12 Mitch Campbell with his line of zeroes in the scoresheet -- he ended up as the biggest winner, as he later married Coach Hamilton's daughter, Shana. Campbell, who once served as an associate A.D. here, is now the athletics director over at Sac City College.

By my count, Coach Hamilton went 2-0 against the Sagehens in his career, 1-0 during the time Popovich was there. And from what I can see by the scoresheet, Coach Pop didn't send any of his stars home the night before, either.

* * * * *

Then, on the subject of coaches and their early moments in the game, came the following relic:

More Aggie fans know about this story already. For those who don't go as far back, there is good reason why this moment remains dear to the long-timers. One of the two ball boys in question was Damon Eden, who later came to UC Davis to play football. The other was none other than a member of the 1998 national-champion team and a current Aggie assistant coach, Kevin Nosek.

Incidentally, the shooter of those infamous free throws was Jerry Tolman, whose roommate and teammate was a Cossack sharpshooter named Brian Fogel. Yes, that is the same Brian Fogel who served as Bob Williams' top assistant at UC Davis and who subsequently replaced Williams as Aggie head coach.

'Tis a funny thought that Kevin Nosek was less than 10 years old at the time, and yet he now serves in his 10th year on the UC Davis basketball staff. On that night, Coach Hamilton brought both Damon and Kevin over to sit next to him on the bench. Little did any of them know that a quarter-century later, Kevin would still be sitting next to the head coach on the Aggie bench.

Hmmm, maybe it's worth reminding Coach Les to keep his assistant away from the stack of towels.

-Mark Honbo, assistant athletics communications director, began serving on the UC Davis basketball stat crew at the same time Kevin became a ball boy (thanks to Kevin's older brother, Brian). More than a quarter-century later, he still serves on the UC Davis basketball stat crew, proving along with Kevin just how rooted one can get to the Aggies.

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