University of San Francisco Men’s Basketball: The Dons head to Spokane on Thursday to face off against No. 4 Gonzaga at 6 p.m. (WTV Link). Ahead of them is the West Coast Conference Tournament in Las Vegas, March 7-12. While there, USF and the WCC will honor Orlando Smart, one of the greatest guards to play on the Hilltop, by inducting him into the West Coast Conference’s 11th annual Hall of Honor on Saturday, March 9 at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas, where the tournament is to be held.
“Orlando was the best point guard that I ever coached,” said USF Hall of Famer Jim Brovelli, who coached Smart from 1991-94. “He always had the great ability to make the right decision to the right guy at the right time in critical situations. And he did it in a very unassuming way, moreover, he was a great team player. This is a great honor for him, and really well deserved. His record, I believe, will probably never be broken. As great a player as Orlando was – he’s an even better person.”
Smart racked up 902 assists while scoring 1,532 points over four seasons with the Dons, and is one of just three players in USF history to score 1,000 points and record 400 or more assists. His 902 assists are not only a WCC and program record, but still rank 14th in NCAA history, while his 7.78 assists-per-game average still ranks 10th all-time in the NCA. The two-time First Team All-WCC member was inducted into the USF Hall of Fame in 2011.
After graduating from USF, Smart played professionally overseas in Poland for Slask Wroclaw, and also in the United States for the Southwest Basketball League, where he earned MVP honors in the 1997-1998 season.
Smart joins former USF standings Joe Ellis (basketball), Bob St. Clair (football, the recently-deceased Steve Negoesco (soccer), K.C. Jones (basketball), Mary Hile-Nepfel (basketball), Ollie Johnson (basketball), Jim Brovelli (basketball), Bill Cartwright), and Brittany Lindhe (basketball) in the WCC’s Hall of Honor, which inducted its first class in 2009.
USF Baseball: The Dons have been picked to finish fifth in the 2019 WCC preseason coaches’ poll, while two upperclassmen have earned preseason honors. Riley Helland, San Francisco’s top returning bat in 2019, is a switch-hitting catcher and infielder who batted .329 with 19 doubles and 34 RBIs while starting all 58 games last season. He and pitcher Riley Ornido were named to the All-WCC Preseason Team, announced on Wednesday.
Helland last season earned first team all-WCC honors, led the team with a .398 on-base percentage and was among the Dons’ top-three in batting average, slugging (.441), runs (29), hits (73), RBIs, doubles and walks (21). He also boasted a .990 fielding percentage.
Ornido was also a first team all-WCC honoree in 2018 while going 8-5 with a 2.58 ERA and 95 strikeouts – all team bests. He threw a team-high 97 2/3 innings and also limited would-be base stealers to just a 37.5 percent success rate.
“Just being recognized by their peers is great for them,” said head coach Nino Giarratano. “They’re good players. I think everyone knows Riley Ornido is going to be a tough day for them when they see him on the mound, and I think Riley Helland is going to pose a lot of problems for opposing pitchers as well. A testament to both of them. I know they’re going to have a good year and hopefully they can make the people’s decision correct.”
SF State Wrestling: SF State received a vote in the fourth 2018-19 NCAA Division II Wrestling Coaches Association Team and Individual rankings on Monday. Fifth-year 133-pound senior Jordan Gurrola (16-6) reentered the individual rankings at No. 12. Gurrola has won his last seven bouts, which included a win by fall, two tech falls, and a major decision. The senior has been ranked as high as No. 10 this season.
The Gators will hold their Senior Night on Feb. 7, with a dual meet against Menlo at 7 p.m. Gurrola, along with Isiah Alva, Romeo Medina-Ontiveros, Christian Ramos, Joshua Villaflor and Brandon Vu will be honored. The postseason begins with the NCAA Division II Super Region 6 Championships on Saturday, February 23 in Kearney, Nebraska.
SF State Track: On the indoor winter circuit, the Gators are the No. 3 team in the NCAA Division II Ratings Index, just behind Adams State and Grand Valley State.
SF State Men’s BB: Fifth-year guard Jiday Ugbaja took home California Collegiate Athletic AssociationPlayer of the Week honors for his contributions to a 2-0 week, which included wins over Cal State Los Angeles and Cal State Dominguez Hills.
During the SoCal sweep, Ugbaja averaged 16.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.0 steal per game.
SF State Baseball postponed: Rain in the Bay Area this past week postponed the Gators’ season opener, a non-conference doubleheader against Simpson. That Feb. 5 twin bill has been moved to a Feb. 12, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The season will now open on Friday, Feb. 8 versus Concordia (Ore.) at 2 p.m. That is the first of a three-game series with an 11 a.m. doubleheader scheduled for Saturday, February 9.
Last season, the Gators went 24-28, their highest win total since 2004, and went 23-21 in conference play, the program’s highest conference winning percentage since 2004, as third-year head coach Tony Schifano guided SF State to its first-ever CCAA Championships appearance.
ARTU Men’s hoops completes sweep of Dominican (MBB): In the second of two PacWest Conference games against Dominican this season, Academy of Art men’s basketball successfully swept the Penguins while collecting a season-high 20 assists in a 79-62 victory on Feb. 1 at Kezar Pavilion. A tie game at halftime, junior forward Andrija Blatancic scored a game-high 25 points and senior guard Cobe Williams added his second consecutive 18-point performance to propel a 48-31 second half charge by the Urban Knights.
ARTU Baseball scores 14 in opening day win: Academy of Art baseball opened its 2019 season with an impressive showing with the bats, scoring 14 runs in a decisive win over Simpson at Tiger Field on Feb. 1. The double-digit figure marked the most runs any ART U team has ever scored on opening day. Junior outfielder Thomas Delgadillo and senior catcher Zak May each homered, tallied three runs batted in apiece, and combined to hit .545 (6-for-11) in the victory.
Youngquist earns PacWest POW (ART U Softball): Infielder Breanna Youngquist was named PacWest Player of the Week in the year’s first release of weekly awards. The honor is based on games played between Jan. 28 – Feb. 3.
Youngquist finished the opening week as the PacWest leader in on-base percentage (.700), tied for the lead in runs batted in (4), and second in batting average (.625). Those four RBIs made the Acting major the second Academy of Art student-athlete ever to reach 100 RBIs in her career.
The award was Youngquist’s second in her career at ART U, after she earned it as a freshman in 2016.
With her 27th career double in the opening game of the Desert Stinger Tournament against Stanislaus State, Youngquist moved one double from tying Jayme Stewart and Alana Aweau for sixth in program history.