Beyond Golf — 11 March 2012 by Jim Street
West has a hoops champ: Oregon Tech

Say what you want about the overall weakness in West Coast college basketball this season – well-deserved criticism by the way – but there is a national champion in 2012.

Take a bow Oregon Tech!

I received a text message at around 9:30 Tuesday night from Mike Pisan, an assistant coach with the Hustlin’ Owls, letting me know that the Klamath Falls, Ore., team captured the NAIA Division II Championship for the third time in the past eight seasons with a 63-46 victory over top-ranked Northwood (Fla.) University in Branson, Mo.

The win was the 971st of head coach Danny Miles’ career at Oregon Tech.

We chatted for about 30 minutes shortly after the text arrived and he was still in a celebratory mood as the clock neared the midnight hour in Missouri.

“The kids from both teams came out slow, possibly in awe of playing for the national championship,” Pisan said. “But our guys played really well in the second half.”

Senior forward Scotty Riddle started Oregon Tech’s second-half surge, which saw the second-ranked but eventual champs score 18 points in the first eight minutes after scoring just 18 points in the first half. But they held Northwood to 19 points.

Oregon Tech won five games during the six-day tournament, ending the season with a 34-4 record, the most wins in school history.

The 46 points by coach Rollie Massimino’s Seahawks marked the lowest point total in the 21-year history of the tournament. Oregon Tech joins Bethel (Ind.) as the only schools with three national titles.

An Owls season that resulted in the most wins included a devastating setback – the death of 20-year-old Nathan Maddox, a redshirt sophomore who reportedly took his own life in February.

“It was emotionally draining,” Miles said of Maddox’s death. “In fact, I even asked the kids if they wanted to finish the season. The way the guys handled it, they played their tails off. Nathan was a great young man. We decided to honor him with the way we played.”

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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