That raid on basketball in the Pacific northwest continues at the University of Redlands.
Cory Coombe, who is the Bulldogs’ new assistant men’s basketball coach, was hired away from Whitman College of Walla Walla, Washington.
Since newly hired head coach Eric Bridgeland wandered down the coast from Whitman, Redlands seems set on turning the notch up a little on SCIAC rivals.
Three straight Northwest College championships and six runner-up finishes made Bridgeland a top candidate for Redlands’ open spot.
After a dozen seasons, 254 career triumphs and deep playoff runs throughout his Blues’ coaching career, Bridgeland was a nice pickup for the Bulldogs.
Underlying the hiring of both Bridgeland and Coombe lies plenty of NCAA Division III background. It comes heavily into play when carrying out any ambitious plans to recruit, compete and, perhaps, lift the Bulldogs into prominent postseason runs.
Yes, Coombe worked for Bridgeland at Whitman.
Coombe, meanwhile, isn’t that far removed from his collegiate playing years. He played on Northwest Conference contender Lewis & Clark (Oregon) College through 2015.
The hiring of Bridgeland and Coombe became necessary when longtime coach Jim Ducey retired after leading the Bulldogs to the 2020 SCIAC championship.
All are hoops masterminds.
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Mike Eason seemed to be a control freak.
The onetime ex-Terrier, who was drafted by the Florida Marlins, Eason still holds the record for most wins at UC Riverside with 29. Aiding his 29-11 lifetime mark in Highlanders’ colors, his five shutouts still stands as tops for all-time UCR hurlers.
During Eason’s day, the Highlanders belonged to the NCAA Division 2. UCR is a D-1 program these days.
It’s not all good, though. It’s tough to keep those aluminum bats (then allowed under NCAA rules) cool. Eason’s on the top 10 list for earned runs allowed (138) and hits allowed (381) over 328 innings during his 1993-1996 span.
Posting 10 wins for a 43-16 Highlanders’ squad in 1995, his junior year, Eason walked just nine hitters in 105 ⅓ innings.
That’s virtually total control.
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Anyone remember Danny Genung? He’s an ex-Terrier, ex-Bulldog, once committing to Air Force Academy — in the office of Congressman Jerry Lewis (R), no less — during an April 2000 ceremony.
Fast forward two decades.
Guy’s got himself a website full of travel ideas. Trying hard not to make this free advertising, but in these pandemic times, it almost seems like his beat-the-odds traveling methods is newsworthy.
Gave up a promising teaching career to work his way into his grandfather’s onetime travel business — Bob Harr.
Then there’s Kai Lyles.
The Lyles family lived right around the corner from the Genungs.
Kai played the same position as Danny. Played the four. Power forward, some call it. Same grade. Same height. Virtually the same skills set. Want minutes?
Let’s see. Danny’s dad was coaching the high school team. So Kai moved on to Redlands East Valley, coached by Bill Berich.
Both players thrived in their environments.
Couple years later, incredibly enough, both wound up on Gary Smith’s roster at the University of Redlands. Smith knew how to use his bench. Kai and Danny got equal minutes out there.
Kai, these days?
He’s long been the athletic director at Desert Springs High School.
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Gina Umeck, who played her way into CIF-Southern Section history by winning the 1998 girls’ championship — tied with 1996 winner Yon Yim and future LPGA pro Candice Kung at Mission Lakes Country Club, each shooting 72 — is still tied to the sport.
Umeck is now teaching pro. She’s also head golf coach at Cal State Northridge. She was named Western Section Coach of the Year by LPGA forces.
Anyone out there think they know the golf swing? Umeck's got insight into the scientific act of such an athletic art.
Lots more to talk about on Umeck in future months.
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