THE WIZARD OF POMONA
If you're a Division I athletic director interested in beefing up your women's basketball program, you might want to hustle out to Los Angeles and have a talk with coach Darlene May. She has created a Division II dynasty at Cal Poly-Pomona, a school with 19,000 students, tucked away in the westernmost part of Los Angeles County.
Last week's three victories over UC Riverside, Chapman College and Cal State-Dominguez Hills not only gave May's Broncos a 20-4 record but also pushed her career record to 389-89 and her California Collegiate Athletic Association record to a remarkable 140-4. In her 15 seasons at the school May has led Pomona to the NCAA Division II championship three times (in 1982, '85 and '86), and it has been runner-up twice ('83 and '87), meaning that in five of the past seven years, the Broncos have finished either first or second in the nation.
Division I teams in the area, such as Southern Cal, UCLA and Cal State-Long Beach, see little reason to play Pomona because a loss—always a very distinct possibility—would affect the computer ratings that help determine NCAA Division I tournament participants and seeds. May would like to see a rule stipulating that only 25 of the 28 opponents on a Divison I school's schedule count in the power ratings, "so teams could schedule three games against any team that they want without fear of what it might do to their postseason chances," she says.
It was just a few years ago that May turned down an offer to become the coach at the University of Washington. "Sometimes I regret it because it could have been a real good situation," she says, "but I'm happy here. They treat me well, and there's no reason to leave when you have a winning program."
In her free time May sometimes works as an official at Division III games. She's so good with the whistle, in fact, that in 1984 she became the first woman to officiate an Olympic women's basketball game. So, naturally, she's more patient with refs than other coaches, right?
"No, I'm awful," says May. "I'm probably less tolerant. Some of those guys just don't hustle. If you hustle and make the wrong call, all right. But the game's beyond some of them. Some are just incapable of officiating."
By the end of the week Colorado was 20-3 and trying to become the first Big Eight women's team to go through a conference season undefeated. The Lady Buffs were 10-0 in the league after Saturday's 76-59 triumph over Oklahoma State. Their most inspiring player is 5'2" guard Annan (Spud) Wilson, who can be a very nettlesome defender. After getting knocked down by a frustrated Kansas player, Wilson said, "I'm obnoxious on the court. I know I make people mad, and if I were playing against me, I'd probably punch me, too."
Rather than take a vacation after coaching the U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal in Seoul, Kay Yow plunged right into the job of rebuilding her North Carolina State team, which finished 10-17 in 1987-88, her first losing season in 12 years of coaching at N.C. State.
Despite losing 83-62 to Maryland on Saturday, the revived Wolfpack finished the week with an 18-4 record. The biggest difference has been provided by 5'10" guard Andrea Stinson, the ACC's leading woman scorer with a 24.5-point average. After sitting out last season as a Proposition 48 casualty, Stinson is drawing rave reviews. Says UCLA coach Billie Moore, "In time, I believe she'll be better than Cheryl Miller."
Perhaps because of Stinson, Yow says she hasn't experienced any post-Olympic burnout. The only two former Olympians who are playing college ball are going strong, too. As Yow saw on Saturday, Maryland's Vicky Bullett is having a banner season. She has been averaging 20.8 points for the No. 6-ranked Terps. At Tennessee, Bridgette Gordon was scoring 17.7 points per game and getting 6.3 rebounds.
However, things haven't gone as well for one of Yow's Olympic assistants, North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell. Through Sunday her Tar Heels were only 9-15. Hatchell didn't bounce back as quickly as she thought she would from giving birth on Jan. 24 to a son. Van Davis Hatchell. "I figured I'd be out a couple of days and jump back, but I had a pretty rough time," said Hatchell, who rejoined her team five days after Van's birth. "I told the players to think of the hardest practice they'd ever had and then multiply it by 100. That's what childbirth was like for me."
Nevertheless, Hatchell says Van has helped her deal with the frustration of coaching a young team that sometimes starts four freshmen. "After we lose, I'm usually very upset," she says. "Now I go home, and the baby's there. The baby puts a new perspective on things. Basketball is important, but it's not the only thing anymore."
Bobby Martin, an outstanding center for the Pitt men's team, was continually bugged for autographs at a recent New Edition concert. "Every five feet somebody stopped him," said Lorri Johnson, his date. "That made me mad."
No wonder. Johnson is a star in her own right. In fact, at week's end Johnson, a 5'11" junior forward for the Panthers, had a 24.5-point average, which led the Big East and was 10th nationally. (The 6'9" Martin was scoring 13.8 points per game.)
The hoops sweethearts met on a double date in the fall of 1987 and have been an item ever since. Martin is careful to point out that he never gives Johnson advice. "She already does most things better than I do," he says. Which is quite a compliment from a guy who had 16 points and 11 rebounds to help Pitt to a 79-74 upset of Georgetown on Saturday afternoon.
An 82-50 victory over Illinois on Sunday extended Iowa's home court winning streak to 38 games and kept the Lady Hawkeyes atop the standings in the Big Ten conference. But it was a 66-64 victory at home over Purdue two days earlier that gave convincing evidence of how strong Iowa really is.
With 1:17 to play, the Hawkeyes were losing 64-61 to the same Boilermaker team that had beaten them by 11 points on Jan. 29 in West Lafayette, Ind. However, this time Iowa converted a steal by Shanda Berry into a basket, and blocked shots by Franthea Price and Robin Christian into a basket and a free throw for the winning margin. "We played it safe in the game at Purdue, and we lost," said Price. "I figured it was either now or later, and it would have been too late later, so I did it then."
Both teams seem destined to get NCAA bids. Purdue was 18-3 at week's end, while Iowa, 20-3, was in line to make its third straight trip to the NCAA tournament as either the Big Ten champion or cochampion.
With a 75-52 loss to Central Connecticut on Saturday, Brooklyn College suffered its 55th straight defeat to break the NCAA record for consecutive losses in any sport. The old mark was set between 1979 and '82 by the Kalamazoo College women's basketball team.... Actor Robby Benson, onetime star of the basketball flick One on One and a visiting instructor in South Carolina's department of theater and speech, wrote and produced a rap song for the Lady Gamecocks last semester.
May (right) turned down Washington so that she could continue her dynasty at Pomona.
Berry, Iowa's top scorer, made a key steal to help run the Hawkeyes' home streak to 38.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Virginia's 5'5" guard scored 24 points and tied her own school record for assists with 12 in a 99-81 win over Duke. In the Cavaliers' 94-76 victory over Wake Forest she had a school-record 37 points.