Athletic Insights for 2019

My Predictions for the First Six Months of the New Year

Amadou Sow (12), shown dunking against Sacramento State in November, had his biggest game last Saturday in UCSB’s 73-71 basketball victory over the University of San Francisco. The 6′9″ freshman scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds as the Gauchos overcame a 10-point deficit. It was only USF’s second loss of the season and put UCSB at 10-3 entering the New Year.

Paul Wellman

Amadou Sow (12), shown dunking against Sacramento State in November, had his biggest game last Saturday in UCSB’s 73-71 basketball victory over the University of San Francisco. The 6′9″ freshman scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds as the Gauchos overcame a 10-point deficit. It was only USF’s second loss of the season and put UCSB at 10-3 entering the New Year.

The Cheez-It Bowl on ESPN wasn’t doing much for me last week, so I switched the channel over to Turner Classic Movies. On the screen was the 1944 flick It Happened Tomorrow, starring Dick Powell and Linda Darnell. Powell plays an obituary writer for a newspaper who starts receiving a copy of the next day’s paper from a ghostly figure. It’s a surefire way for him to get scoops, as he’s able to show up at the scene of the day’s top stories.

The movie is set at the turn of the century (1900), when newspapers ruled the media world. Also portrayed is horse racing, the most popular sport of the time. Of course, Powell’s character figures that he can make a lot of dough if he knows which horses will win ahead of time. He goes to the track armed with the results from his advance copy of the paper. He parlays four straight winners into a thick wad of C-notes, but complications ensue (in large part because the same paper ran a late-breaking story that he was shot to death that evening).

It was a fun story, and it reminded me of the time I reported what happened tomorrow at the last turn of the century. I was covering the 2000 Summer Olympics at Sydney, Australia, which was 18 hours ahead of Santa Barbara time. When UCSB grad Eric Fonoimoana and Dain Blanton won the beach volleyball gold medal, the match ended at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday at Bondi Beach. The News-Press received my story Monday evening, and Tuesday morning’s paper reported that the Americans upset Brazil’s top team “on Tuesday afternoon.”

It is still 2018 as I write this, and here are a few things that will or might happen in 2019.

January

Alabama coach Nick Saban and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick both have glum expressions, meaning that they either lost or won a big football game. … UCSB’s Big West Conference men’s basketball opener against visiting Cal Poly falls on January 9, a date that will forever be memorialized in Montecito. … There will be free admission for girls at the Gaucho women’s basketball game against Long Beach State on January 19 in celebration of the 33rd National Girls and Women in Sports Day. … If the NFC championship comes down to the Rams versus the Saints, give Drew Brees the edge over Jared Goff.

Feburary

Former Santa Barbara High basketball star Amber Melgoza, a junior standout at Washington, will have a fan club following her in L.A. when the Huskies play at USC on the 1st and UCLA on the 3rd. … The S.B. Dons have the talent to keep the Channel League boys’ basketball title in town, following the San Marcos Royals (2018 champs) and Dos Pueblos Chargers (2017 champs). The Dons soccer team is defending CIF champions and has won 402 games in 20 years under Coach Todd Heil. … Girls’ water polo action will be highly competitive among Santa Barbara, Dos Pueblos, and San Marcos, the 2018 CIF champ.

March

Will there be Gaucho madness? A preseason media poll picked UCSB’s men to finish fourth in Big West basketball, but the media had not seen the four new starters (Ar’Mond Davis, JaQuori McLaughlin, Devearl Ramsey, and Amadou Sow) who joined returning all-leaguer Max Heidegger. The final of the conference tournament in Anaheim on March 16 could come down to the Gauchos and UC Irvine. … Westmont College will try to make its ninth consecutive appearance in the NAIA women’s basketball championships at Billings, Montana, while the Warrior men go for a fifth straight trip to Kansas City.

April

Another baseball season is underway, and unless there is a miraculous breakthrough between the Dodgers network and Cox Cable, Santa Barbara homes will not receive telecasts of most of the team’s games for the sixth consecutive year. … UCSB plays 10 home baseball games between April 2 (USC) and April 20 (UC Davis). … In the final week of the NBA regular season, playoff seedings could be at stake April 4-5 when the Lakers host Golden State and the Clippers. … Carpinteria High will celebrate a century of track and field when the 100th Russell Cup meet is staged on April 13.

May

Horses come in an array of colors like chestnut, bay, and gray, but the color to watch in the Kentucky Derby is white: Bob Baffert’s hair. The trainer of Triple Crown winners Justify and American Pharoah has a stable of possible contenders (Game Winner, Coliseum, Improbable, Roadster) for the Run for the Roses on May 4. … Dos Pueblos and Bishop Diego try to repeat their deep runs in the CIF baseball playoffs, as does the San Marcos softball team. … Stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California will start in Pismo Beach and finish in Ventura on May 16. The bicycle riders will be in a fast-moving pack as they stream down Highway 154 and race across the north edge of town on Highway 192.

June

The Santa Barbara Foresters, seven-time champions of the National Baseball Congress World Series, open another summer of wood-bat baseball at Pershing Park. … San Marcos High athlete Beau Allen, who has received a track scholarship from Duke, will go for a state title in the high jump. His best going into the season is 6′10″. … Soccer fans can follow the women’s World Cup from France June 7-July 7.

I’ll stop my 2019 preview there, although it’s worth mentioning that the popular Santa Barbara Triathlon will return to East Beach on August 23-25. It was canceled for the first time in 37 years in 2018 because of the roads on the bicycle course that were damaged by the Montecito debris flow.

Happy New Year.