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This Month In Matador Athletics - December, 2010
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Dec. 1, 2010

This Month in CSUN Athletics - December Get Acrobat Reader

Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations, offers his monthly insights on the accomplishments on the teams, coaches and student-athletes who compete for Cal State Northridge ... The monthly report includes upcoming key games, and a report on what other activities are happening in the Matador Athletic Department ... This month, a little of this, a little of that.

Hoops Hoopla ...
If not the NBA, then about pro basketball overseas ... In the past couple years, several men's and women's basketball players from Cal State Northridge have played basketball in Europe, Japan and even Chile ... The men's list has included former Matador stars Jonathan Heard, Tremaine Townsend, Calvin Chitwood, Willie Galick, Jayme Miller and women's basketball star Ofa Tulikihihifo ... During their off-seasons, several of those players have visited their alma mater, Cal State Northridge, and expressed their thanks at the opportunity to see another part of the world, experience that countries culture, learn a new language, and continue playing a sport they love, basketball ... Galick, who played two seasons at CSUN (2008-10) and helped lead the team to the NCAA Tournament in 2008-09, is playing in Sweden for Sodertalje Kings,, Miller, a tough forward at CSUN (2006-08), is playing in Turkey for Gelisim Koleji, Heard, one of the all-time Matador leaders in scoring and rebounding (2004-08), is playing in Finland for Porvoon Tarmo, and Townsend, a tough rebounder and school record holder in blocks (2007-09), is playing in France playing for Hyeres-Toulon Var Basket ... Tulikihihifo, one of the all-great women's basketball player in Matador history (2002-07), is playing this year with the BC Wildcats Wolfenbuettel in Germany ... In case you're interested, most foreign teams sign American players for two years with an option for a third season ... Salaries start around $20,000 a year, but can reach upwards of $2.5 million ... The down side is that teams can release you at any time and not pay you any more money ... But the opportunity to continue playing basketball and seeing another part of the world is priceless.

Marcelo Memo ...
Soon we will be calling water polo head coach Marcelo Leonardi, Dr. Marcelo Leonardi ... The second-year head coach is nearing completion for his Ph.d requirements in Educational Leadership from Azusa Pacific College ... Leonardi, in his rookie season as head coach of the Matador water polo last year, coached the team to its best season ever at 28-8, a second straight regular season Big West title, and a national ranking that reached as high as ninth ... Despite losing a talented group of seniors, including All-American goalkeeper Jillian Stapf, Leonardi has recruited a quality freshman class and along with several key returnees from last year, water polo will again be one of CSUN's top sports.

Fast Facts ...
Michael Lizarraga's inspirational story is starting to gain national attention ... Lizarraga is the only deaf collegiate basketball player competing on the NCAA Division I level, and the New York Times will soon publish a story on the senior's determination to play a sport he loves despite his inability to hear ... At the recent 76 Classic in Anaheim, ESPNU documented Lizarraga's inspirational story which included a lengthy feature during halftime ... So what has Lizarraga done in his senior season to warrant a starting role ... Lizarraga is averaging 6.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game ... Lizarraga enjoyed his best game of the year at Pac-10 power California when he scored a career-high 15 points (6-for-8 from the floor) along with four rebounds, two steals and a block ... Coming off the bench at UCLA, Lizarraga played 14 minutes and responded with eight points along with four rebounds ... In two games this year, Lizarraga has a season-high six rebounds ... Lizarraga is shooting 56 percent from the floor, and leads the team in steals with ten, tenth-best in the Big West Conference ... Well done, Michael !!!

See you in January !!!

Michael Lizarraga - the only deaf basketball player competing on the NCAA Division I level.

Michael Lizarraga - the only deaf basketball player competing on the NCAA Division I level.