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Thursday, October 12, 2023

Transformed Lions Seek Route To Redemption - 2023-24 Season Preview

New Look Lions Coming Into Focus


By Harry Cummins

     The basketball floodwaters of change at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon have sufficiently receded this Fall, revealing a decidedly altered landscape.

      An off-season metamorphosis now casts an illuminated shadow on all those invested at this small Bible-based NAIA school with an arabesque past.  Such a sweeping sea change, whether for good or ill, likely will depend on your point of view and an incognito season yet to reveal itself.

     The Multnomah Lions first influenced the geographical imprint of small college basketball several years ago when a whirlwind descended on this campus of 300 plus students in the form of a diminutive 5'8 guard named Justin Martin. He would go on to capture back-to-back NAIA national scoring titles while posting record-setting 71 and 74 point scoring games in successive seasons.  It was a rousing, if not winning, brand of basketball to behold.

     Martin is gone now. So too is 2,000+ point career scorer and all-time 3-point leader Zach Richardson, along with 20 year head coach Curt Bickley who has retired after decades spent strapped for conveyable resources. Their combined legacy was cemented in one particular 2018 game that saw Multnomah sink a still-standing NAIA record 38 3's in a single contest that also saw Martin and Richardson score an incomprehensible 49 points each. 

     Multnomah's fitting  '3 Point U epithet has now been reconstituted by new head coach Tayo Gem in character with the rallying cry currently fashioned on the wall of the Lions locker room, Sustained Intensity.  Gem, it seems, along with his assistant coaches Quinn Curry and Xavier Dupree  are at work on a larger canvas, a roll call showcasing an ideally balanced ensemble of players with an increased focus on the defensive side of the ball.

     Gem is not bereft of current offensive weapons however. Seniors Tyrese Taylor and Neyland Block return to form a dynamic presence. Taylor, a 6'8 forward with bull-like strength, averaged a double-double last season, while the 6'5 Block, gifted at creating for others, finished 5th in the nation in assists.  Assistant coach Curry unequivocally calls Block "the most underrated player in the country."  Both are All-Conference candidates in the rugged Cascade Collegiate Conference that produced last season's national champion in College of Idaho... as well as yet another in a succession of second division finishes for these Lions.

     Lifting the burden from Taylor up front is 7'0 Senior F/C and Nebraska native Javier Turner, who can run the floor, block shots, and was his conference defensive player of the year last season for Point U.  Joining Turner at the forward spot is Miles Macadory, a converted 300 pound offensive tackle in football who has transformed his body into a sleeek 6'6, 210 pound shot maker, replete with a 5th year senior's court savvy.

     Chad Napoleon, a 6'6 Jr. forward, brings an infectious energy to the Lion's fortified front court. From Del Ray Beach, Florida, Napoleon played the last 2 seasons at Blue Mountain C.C. where he became the only 1,000 point career scorer in the school's history. Versatile and experienced, he once played summer ball in Spain on an international high school travel team.

     Multnomah's back court is loaded, allowing Coach Gem to deploy his guards like breaking waves.  Kadeem Nelson is a 6'5 Junior who took his City College of San Francisco team to the State championship game last year. Long and athletic, he is blessed with great speed and change of direction in blowing by opponents. 

     The best contender to propagate the link to the litany of former 3-point snipers at Multnomah is 6'3 Senior guard Taylor Pomeroy.  Also a local high school star from Portland, Pomeroy transfers from Bellevue University in Nebraska where he shot a sizzling 44.9% from long distance and led the team in free-throw shooting as well. His companion skill at getting to the basket stamp him a defensive nightmare to defend.  Josiah Sewell is a 6'1 Junior guard from Colorado Springs and Portland Community College who will allow Coach Gem to use his versatility and deft shooting touch to impact games.

     Two of the top defenders in Multnomah's 'sustained intensity' model are 6'3 Senior James Sanders and Senior 6'3 returner Amande Uchime. Along with Taylor and Block, Uchime is one of 3 senior holdovers from the wholesale remake of last season's roster. Already one of the top defensive players in the CCC, Uchime is looking to create more disruption this year among Lions opponents.  Sanders, meanwhile, is a seasoned D-1 transfer from Denver University with 2-way skills. 

In this forest of tall trees it may be easy to miss Multnomah's newest 5'9 wonderkind, Freshman Marje Windfield, who hardened his game on the rough and tumble courts of the Chicago Public League, once dropping 37 points in a key league match-up. His amazing quickness has dominated Fall workouts.

     The lure of the bright lights at the national tournament in Kansas City each Spring remains the Holy-Grail toward which every NAIA team points. Lions coach Tayo Gem and his staff should be well-served in that pursuit by coalescing this current cluster of talent, motivational psychology, and the growing pains of the past in synthesis with this lock-step poeticism from William Blake:

"I give you the end of a golden string....wind it into a ball.   

 It will let you in at Heavens Gate."

The grasp for golden threads begins Nov 4








Friday, June 23, 2023

Ills of a Certain Age



By Harry Cummins

      "This world has lost its glory, let's start a brand new story"  -Bee Gees

     My recent go-round with modern medicine has sent my mind spinning on the health of our world these days, not to mention my own well-being. What does it mean when a once-sturdy life or society suddenly collapses with advancing age?  Is illness merely a metaphor for the wider unraveling present in people and cultures?

      Bereft of answers to these rhetorical  questions, some considerations still remain.

     Not every illness we confront, personal or societal, abates or reverses itself. We need a new set of words to challenge our thinking about healing and what constitutes true restoration.  In this process ,we need each other's unique voices of experience. We need to hear them for their remarkable ability to balance self with reality, hope with acceptance, fear with affirmation. We need to hear them, especially, for their ability to establish a  connection with each other.

     To reconstitute ourselves, as individuals and as a society, in the midst of illness and attack, is to help one another make the attempt to go to bear our histories and infirmities with the highest of human credentials.

     Our old stories are ripe for retelling... but in new ways.  Words with the capacity to turn memories into steadfast hope in the midst of cumulative loss. 

     I might suggest this should be an overriding agenda, an antidote to our present affliction.


Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Pieces Of Her Heart


By Harry Cummins

     Until the day in 1984 when she just collapsed on the kitchen floor and died, I believe my mother had always thought of her life as being hard.

     She was married most of the time, to my father for a short while until his drinking drove her away, then to another man for nearly 30 years. It was sometime early into those 30 years that I grew into the understanding that my mother had given up on her own happiness.

     When I was in the sixth grade, my mother sent me away to live with a Norwegian family near San Francisco. Even then I never doubted her love. Often she would come to visit, putting her powerful arms around me and squeezing so hard I could barely breathe

 "Your happiness means everything to me," she would say.

     As my own life moved ahead, I could feel my uneasiness that hers was not.  Love held us close, but we seldom spoke to one another about what really mattered. In the end we got a little better at it.

     I know this now:  There is nothing so remarkable as the gifts we freely extend to others in the face of our own unhappiness.  It is not just ideal families or undamaged dreams that begat hope and affection. It is the powerful mystery of human love extended one to another.

     The mosaic beauty of broken pieces.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Home Stretch - A Railbird's Meditations


By Harry Cummins

     There was lunacy in Louisville last week where 7 horses died in the lead- up to the Kentucky Derby and no one seems to know why.  Elsewhere, political violence and militarism in this country continues unabated in the wake of endless mass-shootings. Seems we are all stranded somewhere along the spectrum spanning anger and desensitization as our age-old institutions seemingly unravel at an alarming rate.

     Then, out of the blue, something nice happens in our ordinary back-page lives.

     I received a note on social media this week from a woman who once sat next to me 60 years ago in an 11th grade history class. She remembered that I used to carry her text books between classes. Probably not as bent toward generosity as I was back then, her note nevertheless triggered a softness in my current stance, along with the realization of the current play of light and dark in my own life.

     My belief was reinforced that there is an uninterrupted laser-like light source that can guide us thru life... if we don't loose sight of it, obliterated by long stretches of darkness. It operates, I surmise, much like the current pace-setting system using LED lights employed by the sport of track and field in keeping athletes on task.

     This beam of obedience, kindness, forgiveness, or whatever label you attach to it, still radiates in a world coming apart at the seams.   

     Like every jockey knows.... hold on tight and look for the light.



Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Passion and Paradox - Understanding A Lost Love

By Harry Cummins

     The year I turned forty, fit and fanciful, was the same year I fell hopelessly in love.

     My mid-life romance was absorbed into that peculiar juxtaposition of pain and pleasure known as the mile run.   As a miler at middle-age, I had suddenly became one of life's more pronounced captives of time.

      Held hostage by hope and the promises on some distant stop-watch, I would dream of moments when the contours and contradictions of my imperfect life would come together on that final, perfect straightaway.   A reward for fidelity... for keeping the faith.  A garland for the thistled steadfastness of my daily training.  A bit of glory, I imagined, for those rubbery-legged repetitions that sought to proportion speed and strength in just the right mix.

     No matter what our ages or our particular passions, are not such moments our fondest hopes?  For John Walker, his 1975 crossing of the 3:50 threshold must have been the moment - that fleeting exposure to the outer limits of human experience.

     As I write this, today marks the anniversary of that historic May evening in 1954 on Oxford's Iffley Road track when Roger Banister became the first man to break 4 minutes in the mile.  Years later, he describes a paradox he eventually would discover:

     "I was resting on billowing white clouds that would, I thought then, always protect me from the worst of life's buffeting." 

     As I round the curves of advancing age myself, I have come to understand Bannister's words regarding all athletic achievements in life.  Or all achievement for that matter.  More often than not, such pursuits of perfection do illuminate our existence and are worthy of pursuit.  But the reality is that these self-absorbed moments don't always protect us, and sport, of course, must never be mistaken as finally sufficient in itself. 

    Today, carrying the unwanted weight of indulgence and a series of surgical setbacks, I am no longer a runner.  For the longest time, my passion for the sport had persisted and shaped who I became.  But I am no longer in love.

     I have come to realize that it can be a hostile world, four minutes to a mile and fourscore years to a lifetime.  We all need traveling companions other than our own thoughts, to carry us thru. 

     So many of our passions in this life dissolve with the passing of time.  But there is a kind of love that still endures. A kind of love that  "Beareth all things, beliveth all things, hopeth all things."

     It is with memory intact, and what remains from a lifetime of understanding, that I now venture out of my house into this global pandemic aftermath.

      In aspiration, perhaps I still remain on a starting line.  Torso tipped slightly forward, ready to push off on one foot.......  into a new fascination and fury.

     Love is still in the air.

-- In 1983, the author competed in the first ever Invitational 5th Avenue Masters Mile in New York City. He finished 4th in a time of 4:33.  He also met John Walker, who ran much faster.


Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Random Notes From MLB's Junior Circuit


BEAVERS SWIMMING UPSTREAM: Baltimore Oriole catcher Adley Rutschman tops the American League in walks with 22. His former Oregon State Beaver teammate Steven Kwan of the Guardians is 6th in the league in stolen bases with 7.

MILLER TIME:  The most intriguing pitching match up Tuesday night occurs in Oakland where a pair of 100 mph rookie flame throwers hook up. Mason Miller of the A's vs. Bryce Miller, making his MLB season debut with the Seattle Mariners.  No fewer than 27 pitchers in April have hit 100mph or more. Unfortunately, you can expect most of them to land on the injured list this year. I will leave it to our sports business expert Greg Crawford to sort out the fact the MLB teams paid $486 million last year to 427 pitchers on the injured list.

Mauricio Dubon, filling in at 2nd base in Houston for the injured Jose Altuve, is now hitting .317, good for 5th best in the American League. He is also in the Top 10 in runs scored with 20. Houston, do we have a (nice) problem when Altuve returns?

New York Yankee ace Gerrit Cole looks to up his season record to a perfect 6-0 when he faces touted Cleveland pitching prospect Tanner Bibee tonight.   Harrison Bader has been activated from the injured list and is expected to make his season debut in center field for the Bronx Bombers.

PICKS TO CLICK TONIGHT:  Hitter- Joey Gallo, Minnesota.... Pitcher- Hunter Brown ,Houston.


Matt Chapman, Toronto .379  /Bo Bichette Tor .344/ Randy Arozarena TB .327/ Yandy Diaz TB .319

The jury is in on the pitch clock this season. Games are decidedly shorter. It would also be interesting to see numbers on the time saved by the new rule that limits BATTERS only one time out in which to step out of the batter's box.  


Harry Cummins

Monday, May 1, 2023

Is Handshake Line Really Necessary

 By Gregory Crawford. Founder of Craw's Corner.

Draymond Green is upset, but what is new? Apparently he was snubbed by Sabonis in the handshake line after his Warriors defeated the Kings to win game 7 and the hotly contested playoff series.

For years I have been saying no handshake lines in basketball on any level, no matter what the circumstances. Too much can go wrong and it often does. And by not doing it, it doesn't show a lack of sportsmanship at all. It shows someone is smart and has figured a handshake line is worthless.

In this day and age of all kinds of technology. use that instead to congratulate the other team or possibly a friend on the other team. Handshake lines can often be actually dangerous, with developing into physicality. 

Your thoughts are welcome 

Sunday, April 30, 2023

 By Gregory Crawford: Founder of Craw's Corner

This is the best of NBA playoffs you can imagine. So many great stories to follow. I would love to hear your thoughts in comment section, including.

1. Who is going to win it all?

2. Who is best player in the playoffs?

3. Who is the best coach in playoffs?

4. Who has best uniforms?

5. Who has best crowd support?


Starting tomorrow. we will be here every day except Fridays, got to take a day off, with a little sports, politics, a lot of Harry Cummins. weather and some thoughts on energy.

Plus. all your thoughts in the comment section.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 24, 2023

We are back

 By Gregory Crawford, Craw's Corner Founder

It is a pleasure to bring back Craw's Corner on a regular basis. We will be doing lots of things here, so your comments are always welcome. Lots of variety and much more. I might even bring the icon Harry Cummins out of retirement as well as many other talented writers.

The main thing, enjoy please.

Gregory Crawford

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Chasing More Than A Number



                         A Look Back At 2,000 Points...

By Harry Cummins

     On the first full weekend of this New Year and with only a smattering of loyalists on hand as witnesses, something significant is about to unfold in Portland, Oregon.

     Perhaps not the kind of tumult a "Hillary on The Summit of Everest" event would elicit but no less laudable will be the exact moment when Zach Richardson, an unassuming 6'0"small college basketball player from Multnomah University, reaches the rarefied air of 2,000 career points. At this writing, he is a mere 23 points away.  At present, he tops the Cascade Collegiate Conference in scoring at 20.3 ppg and is among the Top 25 sharpshooters in national statistics.

     Richardson will soon become the first player in Multnomah's NAIA era to ever reach such a coveted (2K) career milestone and only the 3rd Lion all-time to ever do so. Earlier this year, he also became the  school's all-time leader in 3 point baskets made.  That number, currently at 409, continues to climb and comes at a free-shooting school that once sank a record 38 3's in a single game and produced a back to back national scoring champion in the form of Justin Martin.

     The rocky ascent to 2K for a modern-day collegiate basketball player is fraught with missteps and the absence of guard rails.  COVID-19 outbreaks; debilitating injury; alluring transfer portals; eligibility issues; incongruous teammates, and pro ball opportunities for the elite few, all conspire to form a slippery slope.  Over the course of his career at Multnomah, Richardson has been sidelined a portion of every season by injury, capped by major foot surgery following last season. The 2020-21 season saw his team suffer thru the indignities of a calamitous 1-24 season in which Zach still averaged 27.6 ppg to finish runner-up in the national scoring chase. 

     Richardson's head coach at Multnomah, Curt Bickley, has experienced all the ups and downs of his senior leader's lengthy career.  The private conversations in Bickley's cramped office, Richardson's mammoth single game scoring explosions of 49, 50, and 51 points, along with shared moments of frustration and disappointment.  Ironically, Bickley will exit the sport this year, along with his cornerstone player, after 30 years of coaching, the last two decades spent at Multnomah.

     It is Bickley, perhaps, who can best explain the true worth of his 2K man armed with both staying power and scoring prowess:

     "In all my years of coaching, Zach Richardson best personifies what I have found to be the perfect basketball player" states Bickley.

     "He shows up each and every day with energy and respect. He puts in tons of time on his game on his own and is trustworthy in all things.  He will be a lifelong friend and I could not be more proud of a player or his accomplishment."

     Zach Richardson, a rapidly maturing man of deep spiritual convictions, knows one must also continue to til the soil to bring forth abundance. He already has several career options in place to utilize his advanced degree. He realizes it will always be about the work, a work in progress if you will, in which you never arrive and find no other place to go.

     After this weekend set of games with Walla Walla University and Lewis Clark State College, Multnomah will still have 13 games remaining in the 2022-23 regular season, with high hopes for a few more come post- season.   Plenty of opportunity remains in which to experience what every craftsman and seasoned coach already knows:

     The exclamation point to any game, career, or a life, should only be placed following the finishing touch.

     2,000 points ..and more importantly...still counting.