Inland college notebook: WAC change is good news for Cal Baptist basketball teams

They are two different sides to the same COVID-19 coin. But believers in karma can’t help but put the two happenings together.

On April 14, California Baptist University announced it would extend the scholarships of its senior student-athletes who play spring sports, giving them the opportunity to compete another year.

Then last week, the Western Athletic Conference announced it would shorten the eligibility period from three years to two for transitioning schools – like CBU – to enter the WAC basketball tournaments.

This means CBU will be eligible for the 2021 tournaments, set for the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. It also means the WAC and the Atlantic Sun conferences are the only two NCAA Division I conferences allowing transitioning members into their conference tournaments.

“Lancer Nation can start getting excited about a trip to Vegas next March,” an excited CBU Athletic Director Dr. Micah Parker said.

If both men’s and women’s teams carry over their 2020 successes, the Lancers could hit the Vegas jackpot. This season, the men finished 21-10 overall and was runner-up to New Mexico State in conference at 10-6. The women (18-12 overall) also placed second, going 11-5 in the WAC. The two programs combined for 71 wins over their first two Division I seasons.

As for the spring sport athletes and their returns, that’s obviously a work in progress. Spring coaches have been talking to their athletes throughout April and the NCAA will allow schools to self-apply a one-year extension of eligibility for all spring sports athletes. That extends the five-year clock athletes compete under — five years to complete four years of eligibility — by a year.

One athlete who plans to return is standout first baseman John Glenn.

“I feel blessed that I have been presented the opportunity to come back and play another year for CBU,” he said. “I chose to come back because the feeling of unfinished business did not sit well with me.”

“It’s outstanding that we can provide an option for the impacted seniors to return,” Parker said, “and that we can do so by offering up to the same scholarship amount they have now.”

CSUSB’s Luna Nominated for Arthur Ashe Scholar Award

Cal State San Bernardino soccer goalkeeper Carly Luna was selected as one of 10 national semifinalists for the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar of the Year Award.

The publication Diverse: Issues in Higher Education presents the award, which goes to a student-athlete of color carrying at least a 3.5 GPA who is at least a sophomore academically and who has been active on campus or in the community.

Luna, a sophomore from San Pedro, was selected as a semifinalist out of nearly 1,000 nominated athletes. The communications major carries a 3.83 GPA in her media studies and film studies concentrations.

On the field this year, Luna started 16 games and made 86 saves while posting three shutouts. She allowed only 1.68 goals a game.

CMS nets top spots in both final polls

This wasn’t how Nikolai Parodi planned his exit. But the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps senior wrapped up his CMS career as the No. 1-ranked singles player in the nation, according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s final NCAA Division III rankings.

Parodi’s 191-64 combined singles and doubles record slots him seventh in program history – a mark that deserves an asterisk because his senior season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. He was a six-time All-American: earning the honor all three seasons in singles and doubles, and the SCIAC Player of the Year all three full seasons of his career.

Parodi and freshman Ian Freer were the No. 3-ranked doubles team and junior Jack Katzman finished No. 5 in singles. It was Katzman’s third consecutive top-five finish. As a sophomore, he went 29-3 and earned All-American honors in the fall. He lost to Parodi in the ITA West Regional finals.

When the coronavirus bell ended the season, CMS was 14-1 and ranked No. 2 in the country.

On the women’s side, freshman Justine Leong ended her first campaign ranked No. 1 in singles, with senior teammate Catherine Allen slotted right behind her at No. 2. In addition, Allen and junior Caroline Cox finished as the No. 1-ranked doubles team in the country.

Leong finished her first season 41-3 (20-1 in singles, 21-2 in doubles). She swept the ITA Cup national championships in singles and doubles. Her only singles loss came to UCLA’s Jada Hart in the second round of the ITA Fall Nationals.

Allen and Cox finished atop the Division III doubles ladder for the second  year in a row. They swept the ITA Fall Nationals and won the NCAA Division III Doubles Championship.

Fields and Roy win Bulldogs’ most prestigious academic honor

University of Redlands hurdler Jessica Fields and tight end Blake Roy were named the 2020 Frank Serrao Female and Male Senior Scholar-Athletes of the Year – the university’s most prestigious athletic award. The award was named after longtime football coach Frank Serrao.

A biology major, Fields was a five-time All-West Region honoree and four-time SCIAC champion after winning the 100 hurdles and 400 hurdles in her sophomore and junior seasons. She owns the conference record in the 400 hurdles (1:01.05), finished fifth in the 100 hurdles at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships her sophomore year and was the West Region’s Indoor Women’s Track Athlete of the Year this season.

This past season, Roy led the Bulldogs in receptions with 27 and added five touchdowns as Redlands enjoyed its best season in more than a decade. He finished his career with 75 catches for 822 yards and 14 touchdowns.

A business major, Roy was a two-time College of Sports Information Directors (CoSIDA) Academic All-District selection, a four-time SCIAC All-Academic honoree and a CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2019.

More awards for Milan

Milan Acquaah’s swelling trophy case took another deposit when the California Baptist University junior guard earned two more awards. He was named to the 2019-2020 Lou Henson All-America Team and to the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division I All-District Team.

The Lou Henson Award goes to the nation’s top Division I mid-major player. (Nathan Knight of William and Mary won this year’s award.) Acquaah was on the preseason and mid-season watch list all season. This is his first berth on this All-America team.

The NABC award was Acquaah’s second; he was a second-team District 6 choice last season. It fits nicely with his WAC Player of the Year Award.

Acquaah averaged 18.1 points, 5.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds a game. He was second in the WAC in scoring and assists and 16th in rebounding, leading CBU to a 21-10 record in its second year of Division I play.

Christmas wraps up a stellar career

Cal Poly Pomona’s William Christmas put the bow on what was a memorable career for the Broncos with his berths on both the NABC and Division II Conference Commissioners All-West Region Team.

En route to his third All-West Region selection, the Oceanside native – a four-time All-CCAA selection and the 2016-17 Freshman of the Year — averaged 16.5 points and a team-leading 7.0 rebounds. He led the Broncos to a 23-7 record and runner-up finishes in the CCAA regular season and tournament.

He finished his career with 1,463 points, which are third all-time in Cal Poly Pomona program history. His 658 rebounds and 312 assists are sixth in each category, which means Christmas is the only player in the 73-year history of Cal Poly Pomona’s program to finish in the career top 10 in all three statistical categories.

Lacey, Murphy, Menary bullish for Bulldogs

Also adding a bookend to a conference player of the year award was University of Redlands guard Cassandra Lacey, who followed her SCIAC Player of the Year Award with a spot on the All-West Region Second Team.

Lacey led the Bulldogs to the second round of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament for the first time in program history, averaging 11.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists a game. She joined the 1,000-point club this season, scoring at least 13 points in nine consecutive SCIAC games.

Lacey’s coach, Rich Murphy, earned West Region Coach of the Year after guiding the Bulldogs to a program-record 22 wins and picking up his 200th career win along the way.

On the men’s side, senior forward David Menary grabbed a spot on the NABC All-District Second Team after winding up his career by averaging 14.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.0 blocks a game. He paced Redlands to its first 20-win season since 2012-13.

Smith makes the most of his Coyote cameo

After transferring from Cal Baptist, Cal State San Bernardino’s Jeremy Smith spent only one year with the Coyotes. That was long enough for the guard to become the first NABC All-Region selection in six years.

Smith led CSUSB in scoring (17.9), which was third in the CCAA, while his 4.9 assists were second. He scored in double figures in all but three games this season.

But it was his flair for the dramatic that made Smith’s season art. He hit three game-winning baskets this season, including a 27-foot, falling-away 3-pointer at the end of overtime to beat Cal Poly Pomona.



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