Tag Archives: CCAA

Thoughts on the Chico State Wildcat Men from 35 thousand feet

*Here are some thoughts on the plight of the Chico State Wildcat men’s basketball team from 35 thousand feet as I fly to Houston with the Chico State baseball team to Houston*

The news emerging from the Division West Region NCAA Men’s Basketball committee on Wednesday afternoon had to send a jolt of energy to the Chico State men’s basketball team.

The first regional ranking has the Wildcats sitting at number five in the West Region with the top eight teams going to the NCAA Tournament in three weeks.

The news had to be thrilling for a Wildcats team that has dropped three in a row and four of their last six. With losses over the last 11 days to Sonoma, San Francisco State and Cal State San Marcos the Wildcats were left to wonder whether their early season success would be over-looked, but as we like to emphasize, your post-season fate rests on your body of work and not entirely on “what have you done lately?”

For a team that was averaging nearly 78 points a game, the Wildcat offense has come to a stand-still during their skid. During the recent downturn it’s not as if the Cats are playing a bunch of also-rans. Sonoma State has the best Division II defense in the country and their match-up zone that put the clamps on Chico is “hell on wheels.” The Seawolves held Chico to a season-low 50 points in a 16-point win.

San Francisco State has interior size, perimeter athleticism and followed their game-plan perfectly in holding Chico to 51 points 10 days ago. The biggest surprise in the down-turn was Chico’s sub-par performance against the Cougars of San Marcos. At Acker Gym and after a great week of practice the Wildcats were held to 58 points in a heart-breaking loss against a team they put 80 points on in early December. It was Chico’s first loss at home in 13 games this year.

It is no surprise what is giving Chico State trouble right now. The match-up zone. The offense was cruising until Greg Kamanksy’s Cal Poly Pomona Broncos put the clamps on Chico’s offense in late January at Kellogg Gym. After the game Kamansky told me, “that’s best our zone has been all year.” Well, the rest of the CCAA has taken notice and employed their different versions of a defense that has suddenly put the skids on the free-flowing, ball is a blur Chico State offense.

The Wildcats have been known to carve up the zone, but inexplicably their flow has come to a stand-still against the zone over the last several weeks. Chico State head coach detests when the ball “sticks” in a players hands. By “sticking” he means when the ball is held by the offensive player, player just holds it as movement and cohesive play stops. There has been too much sticking. Too many times yours truly says, (Chico State player) is “surveying the scene.” When Chico attacks the teeth of the zone, they are either driving right into the heart of a double or triple team, make an ill-advised pass or take a bad shot. The synchronicity of the Wildcat offense is dis-jointed and has frustrated them as a group.

Clink was at wit’s end after last Saturday’s loss calling his teams’ offense “putrid.”

There is a silver lining to this slide. Last year the Wildcats lost steam after a 22-3 start and capturing their second straight CCAA title and could not recapture the magic dropping their final three games of the season including their NCAA Tournament opener against UC San Diego. Almost the entire squad that saw their season end so unceremoniously last year is on this squad and they will do whatever they need to do to prevent a repeat of last year.

Coming into the season the professed goal of many of the Wildcats I spoke with was not winning a 3rd straight CCAA title, but it was to go into the post-season playing their best basketball. With two weeks left in the regular season the regular season CCAA title may have come and gone, but the hopes of playing their best basketball still sits there like the ultimate carrot on a rope.

This team is too good and too veteran to let this little down-turn define their season. It will take more than talking about how good they are though. This team has to come together, maybe have some tough internal conversations, look themselves in the mirror and figure out what kind of team they want to be. I know they can do it, their rabid supporters know they can do it. Now we wait for them to figure it out.

Photo courtesy of Chico State Wildcats at http://www.chicowildcats.com

Chico State baseball family says “goodbye” to a man who taught us all how to be a grinder……

The Chico State baseball family buried a young man this week way too soon.

Aaron Demuth was 31 years old. He was laid to rest on Monday in his hometown of Vacaville. Those of us that knew him were not surprised to see a standing room only crowd where the church services were held.

To know Aaron was to like him. What was there not to like ? The gregarious towering man was jovial and fun-loving. Those that knew him best always said he had so much zest for life and attacked life with passion.

Aaron was a devoted family man who loved his family and friends. He had a special affinity for hunting and baseball. Depending on how the Giants were doing depended on what he loved more. Aaron passed away after a 20-month battle with pancreatic cancer. It was a courageous fight that saw Aaron live by the moniker that has been a hallmark of the Chico State program……GRIND.  Aaron and his equally as devoted and courageous wife, Lindsey fought, scratched, clawed and “grinded” their way through the fight.

As I recalled memories of Aaron, one singular moment comes to mind and tells you a lot about the Demuth family. It was a Chico State game in 2006 and the Wildcats were playing the San Francisco State Gators. The day before the game I had gone to the Bay Meadows race track and here I sat 24 hours later after that visit to watch the ponies and I wasn’t feeling too well. I had obviously eaten something that didn’t agree with me and within minutes my play-by-play calls had turned into a desperate attempt and hope that the inning would end so I could go get sick somewhere. When I finally was able to leave my broadcast set, I saw Aaron’s father, Glenn approach me.

“Mike, are you Ok?” He asked. “Not so much I am gonna get sick.” Having never met Glenn, but knowing who he was, I was appreciative he checked on me. As I stayed near the bushes and got sick, Glenn proceeded to leave a game that his son was playing in and went to get me some water. By the time he got back, which was a few innings later since there was no snack bar in San Francisco, I was feeling a little better. Mr. Demuth didn’t have to do that, but he did. It has always stuck with me as a sign of genuine kindness when you really don’t have to be.

It was a simple gesture. In the grand scheme of life, it was a small thing. But, the compassion and caring that Glenn Demuth showed me that day a great example of why Aaron turned out the way he did. It was selfless and kind. The apple certainly didn’t fall too far from the tree.

Many of his former Chico State teammates will have their memories of Aaron. Aaron’s baseball exploits are legendary and some of his home runs are still sailing through the stratosphere somewhere. Whether Aaron swung as hard as you could and connected for a colossal blast, or whether he swung and missed. He did it with aplomb and passion.

My memories will be a of a guy who played on two of the most memorable teams in Chico State history (2006-2007) He hit some big home runs and had some big hits for this program. But, I will remember him as a guy who didn’t just give lip service to the “GRINDER” moniker. Aaron is the ultimate grinder in the game of life, and in that we can all celebrate and take great pride.

You will be missed Aaron. Let your Chico State baseball family grind for you now



Chico State Baseball: Arms control vital for late season run

The road trip from hell is over and now the Chico State Wildcat baseball team can circle the wagons and get ready for the stretch run.

Going 3-3 on their most recent 96 hour two-city road trip was wicked difficult. The ramifications of rain-outs are usually taxing, more so when you are team that doesn’t live in an urban center. Chico State’s weekend travel included a flight to San Diego, a three game set against Cal State San Marcos on Saturday and Sunday. A delayed flight late Sunday night back to Sacramento which meant they didn’t get back into Chico until 3am.

Twelve hours later the Cats had to hop back on a bus and head to East Bay where they would finish a suspended game from March 4th (a loss) and then play the rescheduled double-header from a March 5th rain out (15-13 win; 10-9 extra inning loss).

Before you shed a tear for these Cats I do recognize these young men are playing baseball. I do get that. As head coach Dave Taylor told me during Tuesday’s pre-game from Cal State East Bay, “it’s not like we are digging ditches for a living, we’re playing baseball.” All true, but to perform at your highest level I am firm believer in physical rest and mental clarity. I believe the body’s biorhythms must be in sync. Young or not, the body and mind needs rest and these Wildcats didn’t get any last weekend and into Monday and Tuesday.

Chico State now sits at 23-9 overall and 13-7 in the CCAA. This year is far cry from the angst of the 2015 campaign. We are certainly thankful for the resurgence of this proud program.  These 2016 Wildcats are one of the best hitting teams we have seen in Chico State history. They simply rake. One-through-nine in the order this group seeks out their pitch and when they get it, they haven’t been missing it. I rarely see hitters on this squad put themselves at a disadvantage by swinging at bad pitches early in the count. This team’s plate discipline is stellar. They seek out the mistake and then pounce. Amazing collective approach by these hitters. A week ago they surpassed the 2015 team’s runs total for the year. They did it in about roughly 25 fewer games.

As a team Chico State is hitting .335 on the year with an on-base percentage of .416. They are second in the conference in extra base hits (Monterey Bay is 1st) although the Otters batting average is nearly 40 points lower than the Cats. The offensive prowess of this team ranks with some of the great offensive teams we have seen here at Chico State, especially clubs we saw during the “live ball” era 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2006. Offensively this team is good enough to win a West Region title.

To be the team they want to be, and to reach the goals they want to reach the Wildcat pitching staff needs to ratchet it up a notch. While the Chico State arms rank second in team ERA for the season (3.64), their production during conference play has taken a huge dip (4.72)

Despite being away from the team for much of March, one problem that has persisted with this group is not throwing strike one. By not getting ahead in the count the Wildcat pitchers are putting themselves at a tremendous disadvantage. Both San Marcos and East Bay were two of the top three hitting teams in the CCAA. The Cats spent the entire four-day stretch falling behind these quality hitters. This is no way to live. And, it wasn’t just one or two guys, other than AJ Epstein’s five inning relief stint on Tuesday, not one Chico State hurler could consistently get ahead in the count.

Also, not one Wildcat starter went more than five innings. In the three game San Marcos series Wildcat starters went 14.2 innings and walked 11 hitters. For the entire 27 inning series Wildcat pitchers walked 19 Cougars. Not good.

While many may point to the struggles of Chico State’s bullpen, the starters need to shoulder a ton of the blame. Eventually a team and a pitching staff will have to pay the price for starters who constantly have deep counts, walk hitters and don’t go deep in contests. In this competitive conference a team can survive maybe one sub-par start a weekend. When they get three less than average starts, good luck. By the time Tuesday came around the Wildcat bullpen was spent. The Wildcat starters need to pitch deeper, when they don’t, it stretches the bullpen thin.

Was last weekend a blip on the screen, an aberration ? I do believe last weekend and into Tuesday were your atypical grouping of games. We all knew it would be tough against two of the better hitting teams in the conference and it was. The Wildcats are capable on the mound, but the time for talking about it is over. It’s time for the entire staff to take ownership of their performances. Five innings from the starters is not good enough. Average teams have starters that go five innings. Great teams have pitchers who get through seven. Throw strike one, get ahead in the count. quit nibbling. Attack the hitters, believe in your stuff.

It sounds simple, we know it’s not. This team can hit. They rank right up there with some of the more complete offensive teams to wear the Cardinal and White. Even with some pitching slippage at San Marcos and East Bay blowing 7-2 and 8-2 leads, this group of arms is certainly talented enough to get the Cats where they want to go. But, the time for toughness is now. No excuse making, no lamenting ones’ role. Every great Chico State team has faced that put up or shut up moment and that time is fast approaching. It’s time for this group to dig deep and show the toughness  we believe they have.

*PHOTO COURTESY OF CHICO STATE ATHLETICS AT http://www.chicowildcats.com



Listen to the 2nd half of Chico State and UCSD from Feb 12th

It was a first place showdown that did not disappoint. The Chico State Wildcats traveled to La Jolla to take on the UC San Diego Tritons with CCAA supremacy at stake. We pick up the game in early in the second half with the Wildcats leading by one….

Chico State and UCSD will play in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday in Monmouth, Oregon. Game time is at 2:30pm and you can hear all the action on AM-1290 KPAY. KPAYSPORTS.COM and the KpaySports app


Overall DII Record In-Region Record
1 Western Ore.                               24-2                               24-2
2 Chico St.                                          20-5                               20-5
3 UC San Diego                               20-6                               19-6
4 Seattle Pacific                              20-7                               20-7
5 Azusa Pacific                                20-7                               19-7
6 California Baptist                      23-6                               21-6
7 Cal Poly Pomona                       19-6                                17-6
8 Dixie St.                                           18-8                                18-8
9 Alas. Fairbanks                            18-7                               18-7
10 Alas. Anchorage                       17-9                               16-9

*The latest regional ranking doesn’t take into account the Chico State loss against Cal State Los Angeles on Tuesday night*

Chico State is still in a good position. But, as I stated in the blog the Wildcats will be in a much better place for their fifth straight NCAA Tournament if other teams ranked in the regionals win their respective tournaments.  Here is my blog written before the rankings were released……

Two days ago I had my gall bladder removed. The procedure took about an hour. They make four small incisions in the stomach and remove the dastardly organ that when healthy filters fat, when not causes discomfort and pain. They give you anesthesia. They give you a container full of drugs to help ease the pain in recovery.

No drug in any vial can make me forget or un-see what I saw on video  last night at Acker Gym.

The Chico State men’s basketball team came up with a performance for the ages, the Dark Ages. And now have put themselves in quite the predicament. An NCAA Tournament bid which seemed like a formality just 48 hours ago has now turned into one big question mark. I will explain the details of what Chico needs to have happen in other conference tournaments later. But first, lets analyze what happened last night with our beloved Wildcats.


“What was that Baca ?” “What the hell happened?” “Can you explain what I watched tonight?” These are just some of the comments sent to me  from Chico State Wildcat fans as I lay in bed last letting last night’s 54-37 loss to Cal State Los Angeles ruminate in my cranium. Let me be clear, the Golden Eagles came to play and compete. They took the fight to Chico State at every turn. They did what they do expertly and deserved to win the game. Because I analyze what went wrong with Chico State, should not diminish how great LA played last night.

Seeing the game from a television perspective instead of court side gave me a completely different view of what happened to the Wildcats. First, their offense seemed beyond out of sync. I love to use dis-jointed, sometimes I over use it. But, last night was the epitome of dis-connect. CSLA does such a good job of shutting down options, and “usually” Chico State does a good job of running their sets two or three times and eventually getting a breakdown that leads to a good look or an easy bucket. Chico didn’t aggressively run those sets, which didn’t lead to LA breakdowns, instead Chico was stuck. Stuck in the lane, stuck on the wing, stuck on the baseline, generally stuck in the mud.

Ball movement, motion and flow are vital to Chico’s offense. I thought it was non-existent last night. When all good offensive teams are in rhythm the ball is a blur, the men are in motion, they are cutting. It’s like a pinwheel, an offensive cut begets another cut and so on and so forth. Motion, movement it’s the key for Chico’s offense. When they don’t move, it looks like last night. Much of it had to do with a great job by LA clogging the middle, but much of this rests on the Cats themselves.

Defensively I thought Chico State played fairly well. The Golden Eagles Duce Zaid was in the zone all night, and unlike the scouting report where he is prone to take bad shots, that was not the case last night. Zaid took great shots, got his teammates involved and was the best player on the floor. He scored 26 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. He hit 6-of-9 from deep. Just a big time game from a big time scorer. Joshua Munzon hit three big THREE’S, two of which twisted the dagger in the second half. Could Chico State done a better job on LA’s shooters ? Sure, but CSLA is not a great shooting team, as a defense you want to cut off dribble penetration. The numbers tell you they are not going to go hog-wild from three-point range. Sometimes teams get hot, LA did so last night. Chico was able to force 22 turnovers which lead to 19 points, but Chico’s 14 turnovers were also converted into 19 points so the turnover battle was a draw.

The rebounding differential tells the whole story. Chico out-boarded CSLA 39-25 last Saturday night in a one point loss. On Tuesday LA out-rebounded Chico 40-30. That is a 24 rebound swing. What changed in four days ? This stat is simply about the fight. How much fight do you have in your gut ?

I think the thing that troubles me most is how small Chico State played when the lights were shining the brightest. I know how good this team is. I have seen them all year, but that was a passive performance in the biggest game of the year. Too many deferrals. Too many passed up open looks. Too many open 15-footers to drive into the paint where two defenders were waiting. I wanted to see toughness, fight, grit. I didn’t see it. That was very disappointing. Collectively, this team needed to say, “this #$%@# aint happening on my watch.” That didn’t happen. It needed to.

We have talked about wake up calls for this team, this is the ultimate in alarm ringers.  The situation the Cats find themselves in is totally and completely fixable. It’s not as if they have a problem here that can not be remedied. There is not another coach that I would want in charge of my program at this time than Greg Clink. Clink and his assistants Lucas Gabriel and Justin Blake have their work cut out.  I am pretty confident they will be having to use some tough love around this group over the next few days. If anyone can break a team down and build them back up for the regional, its Coach Clink. It also wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for this team to talk amongst themselves. The Cats have 9 days to put the puzzle back together. But, as we will explain. Chico getting to play more basketball is not such a sure thing anymore. Chico qualifying for their fifth straight NCAA Tournament no longer rests on their shoulders. Now it’s out of their hands.


When you crunch regional numbers and Performance Index numbers of the best teams in the West Region, the worst numbers you can get are when you lose to a sub .500 team at home. That is exactly what Chico State did last night. The West Region rankings will be coming out in a few hours but they actually don’t mean a lot. What really matters from Chico State’s perspective is that we don’t see a ton of upsets in the CCAA,  GNAC and Pac-West Tournaments. Remember the winners of these post-season tournaments get an automatic bid to the NCAA’s. Even if these teams are well under .500. Winning this tourney gets them a bid. Here is where Wildcat fans need to put their rooting allegiances as these conference tourney’s get underway.


Chico State fans need to pull for either UCSD or Cal Poly Pomona to win the CCAA Tournament. UCSD and Pomona play one another so one of these clubs is guaranteed a spot in the championship game on Saturday. Both Pomona and UCSD are ranked in the West Region rankings. The bad news for Chico is  either Humboldt or CSLA is also guaranteed a spot in the championship game and neither of these squads is ranked in the top-10 in the region, which means they will take a spot in the NCAA’s if they win the CCAA Tourney. If you are Chico fan, you are pulling for the Broncos or Tritons…..BIG TIME !


The Great Northwest Conference Tournament gets underway on Thursday and this tourney will be nerve-wracking for Chico State. There are only two teams ranked in the top-8 in the region playing in this tournament. So, that means 4 of the 6 teams are not currently in the NCAA Tournament field but could bump a team, like Chico out. The top seed in the GNAC is Western Oregon. They get a first round bye and will play the winner of Seattle Pacific and Central Washington on Friday. Oddly, Seattle Pacific is the other team ranked in the West Region rankings but is only a 4-seed in this tournament.

The other GNAC match-up is Alaska Anchorage and Western Washington. The winner of this game plays Alaska-Fairbanks. None of these teams is ranked in the top-8 and is guaranteed at playing for an automatic bid to the NCAA’s. Fairbanks gets a first round bye. Here is another instance where a team NOT ranked in the top-8 in the region will be playing for the conference championship on Saturday.

So to sum up. Chico State wants either Western Oregon or Seattle Pacific to win the GNAC Championship Tournament. If either Alaska-Fairbanks, Alaska Anchorage, Central Washington or Western Washington win that tourney, Chico could be in trouble.


The Pacific West Tournament is another conference with a six team post-season tourney. The top seed is Azusa Pacific which is ranked in the top-8 in the region. The second seed in their tournament is Dixie State which is also ranked in the top-8 in the region. Cal Baptist is the third seed and also ranked in the top-8. Azusa, Dixie and Cal Baptist are all teams Chico wouldn’t mind seeing win this conference tournament. Here are the teams that could crash Chico’s party. Dominican, who the Cats beat earlier this year, are the sixth seed. They open post-season play against Cal Baptist. Chico is big Lancer fans.

The other match-up pits BYU-Hawaii versus Hawaii Pacific. The winner of this game takes on Azusa on Friday afternoon. Chico needs Azusa to win this game. A perfect scenario for Chico State would have Azusa Pacific playing Cal Baptist in the Pac West Tournament final.



By my estimation if there are upsets in two of the three conferences then Chico State is in big trouble. 48 hours ago Chico State basketball fans were looking at possible second round match-ups in the conference tourney and how their seed might be heading into the NCAA Tournament. Now, all Chico can do is sit back and hope they get invited to the dance.


REACTION and ANALYSIS: OFFICIAL Division II West Region Men’s Basketball Rankings…..

Overall DII Record               In-Region 
1 Western Ore.                                   22-2                                         22-2
2 Chico St.                                             19-4                                          19-4
3 UC San Diego                                  19-5                                         18-5
4 California Baptist                         20-6                                         18-6
5 Seattle Pacific                                 18-7                                         18-7
6 Azusa Pacific                                   18-6                                         17-6
7 Cal Poly Pomona                           18-6                                        16-6
8 Dixie St.                                               15-8                                        15-8
9 Alas. Anchorage                             16-8                                        15-8
10 Alas. Fairbanks                            16-7                                        16-7

Let me start by saying I was WAY OFF on my rankings. WAAAAAY OFFFF. And, I am totally OK with that. I thought my rankings were well-reasoned and qualified, but since I haven’t broken down the Performance Indicator and RPI’s for the teams, it came down to body of work, finite analysis and comparison. With the release of today’s Division II Men’s West Regional Basketball rankings we learned one hard and fast thing about life in the West Region……BEAT THE TEAMS YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BEAT !!!

My initial surprise is now steadied in the fact that the committee is really utilizing the PI (Performance Indicator) which measures each win and each loss with a point value. What we saw in today’s rankings highlights how vital it is to beat SUB .500 teams. If you slip you will be punished. This week we saw Seattle Pacific lose their first game to a team under .500 and they dropped an incredible THREE SPOTS (2nd to 5th.) We saw Pomona beat Chico in Chico but follow that up with a dreadful loss to Stanislaus State and drop from 6th to 7th.

Losses to good teams, even at home do not crush you. But, based on the criteria being utilized you get crushed if you lose to sub-standard teams whether at home or on the road. While top-seeded Western Oregon and Chico State both lost, their losses were to teams ranked in the top-10 in the region (definition of a good/acceptable loss.) They also both beat teams ranked in the region after those losses (definition of a good win.) Western Oregon stayed at number one, while Chico State climbed to number two despite losing a game.

I was a little surprised Seattle Pacific dropped to fifth after looking at the quality of their schedule. 15 of their 25 games against teams over .500 and compiling a 9-6 record in those 15 contests. Knowing that Chico State, Seattle Pacific and UC San Diego all had to be pretty close in the rankings, I guess the committee was looking at something to differentiate the teams. A bad loss qualifies especially when it comes to the performance indicator.

With Seattle Pacific falling so far, that shows me that the teams ranked from 2-to-7 must all be pretty close and any mis-step or incongruity will be addressed by the committee. That means this last week of the regular season and the conference tournaments are going to be VITAL in terms of seeding and possibly berths into the NCAA Tournament.

Azusa Pacific sits at number six and that is before the committee takes their loss at BYU-Hawaii on Tuesday night into account. Needless to say Azusa needs to finish the week strong at Chaminade and Hilo. Pomona just has to be sick. They were sitting at six last week, they beat Chico State on ESPN3 in front of a standing room only sell-out crowd coming back from 18 points down with 10 minutes to go…..then they lose in OT to a 7-16 Stanislaus team. That had to feel like they won the SuperLotto but lost the ticket.

I knew Dixie was coming on strong and their two wins against Holy Names saw them jump from 10-to-8. The Red Storm have really put things to together but they have some work to do with a tough schedule in the final week of the season. They are ranked 8th despite not having their win on the road against Dominican factored into the equation, so they have to be feeling pretty good.

Anchorage slipped to number 9 with their loss to Western Oregon and a win against a sub .500 squad. And, it was a great week for Alaska Fairbanks as they beat Western Oregon and put themselves in the conversation.

Remember, power ratings and wins against quality teams is always changing since some teams either are sitting ABOVE .500 or AT .500 or fall BELOW the .500 mark. This will have a significant impact on the quality of wins for teams. So, keep an eye on not only a specific team and how they are performing but also the teams they have beaten OR lost to and whether those wins or losses qualify as good or bad. The Performance Indicator and RPI along with Division II and in-region records are constantly fluctuating and changing. As we saw this week, if you slip on the banana peel not only will your pride and tail bone hurt, but also……your ranking.

*photo courtesy of Chico State Athletics at ChicoWildcats.com


Chico/Pomona: It was a great night….except for the ending


Last Friday night’s Chico State and Cal Poly Pomona nationally televised men’s basketball game had everything. The Chico State students with a rousing rendition of the national anthem. The artistry of Wildcat junior Robert Duncan, and an 18 point lead with 10 minutes to go…..

But then, the floor caved in.  We look back at a memorable albeit unfulfilling night at Acker Gymnasium


BitOBaca SNIPPET: We preview Chico & Pomona plus Monty Williams inspiring eulogy for his wife

In today’s installment of our BitOBaca Snippet we preview tonight’s SOLD OUT match-up between the Chico State Wildcats and Cal Poly Pomona Broncos. We also revisit the inspiring speech and eulogy given by Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams…..This classy NBA-lifer gives a lesson in class, compassion, courage, forgiveness and faith….


The magic returns to The Nett as Chico State sweeps Menlo

The sample size is small but the early returns point to an exciting and fruitful 2016 Chico State Wildcat baseball season. Behind two walk-off wins and improbable comeback from six runs down the Wildcats served notice that the 2015 season appears to be an aberration, a mere blip on the screen in their storied and historic run.

After Friday’s 1-0 walk-off win over a very good Menlo College squad the Wildcats were pushed to the limit on Saturday in the first game of a double-header. Menlo jumped on the Cats early and often in the first game scoring two runs in the first and 5 more in the second. Chico found themselves down 7-1 in the 2nd. By the fifth it was 9-3, and the deficit seemed insurmountable in the 7th after Cal Berkeley transfer Lucas Erceg slugged a home run to right giving Menlo a 10-4 lead in the 7th.

With hope waning Chico State summed up some old Nettleton Stadium magic. The Cats would score two in the 7th and then four runs with two outs in the 8th highlighted by a Josh Falco bases clearing double to tie the game at 10. The game almost slipped away in the top of the 9th after a one out error allowed the Oaks to grab an 11-10 lead. Chico had the tying run on third with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the 9th, only to have Erceg air-mail a 1-2 pitch to the back-stop allowing the tying run to score.

In the bottom of the 10th, after a single and two walks, the Wildcats Dillon Kelley would hit a ground ball in the hole, Menlo got the force at second but the return throw to first was late setting off a wild celebration and improbable 12-11 win.

The Chico State Wildcats would win the night-cap 8-1 finishing off a fantastic weekend for the Wildcats.

In 2015 the Wildcats finished under .500 for the first time in 21 years. The autopsy from the disappointing season revealed that the Wildcats were lacking some key components that leads to success between the lines.

First, the Cats had virtually an entire roster that under-achieved from their 2014 West Region Championship. Second, the club lacked the necessary depth to withstand pro-longed slumps from key players. And lastly, the Wildcats needed to canvass their squad with players that mimicked the teams of Wildcats’ past. Chico State baseball isn’t about playing perfect baseball. Wildcat baseball is about playing the game with a laser like focus and belief that you will somehow find a way if you “GRIND” it out. Grinders……..Chico State had lost that identifier in the 2015 season. On the recruiting trail, the Cats needed to find a bunch of players that would throw caution to the wind and play the game with a joy, fervor, passion and belief that made us all believers again.

As I said, it’s the smallest of sample sizes. It’s a long season, there will be highs and invariably there will be lows, but when a group of players are all pulling in the same direction and play with passion and selflessness good things happen. This weekend showed the Wildcat faithful that is all is well in Wildcat Land. They showed us……

it’s OK to believe again.