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Friday, April 23, 2010

Jennifer Azzi Named USF Coach. Maybe Now She Won't Get Booted From Press Room.

Posted By on Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Jennifer Azzi's sterling basketball credentials won her the top job at USF. But they didn't impress everyone...
  • Jennifer Azzi's sterling basketball credentials won her the top job at USF. But they didn't impress everyone...
The University of San Francisco today announced it has named Jennifer Azzi as the new coach of its flagging women's basketball program. Bay Area residents may recall Azzi as the very best player on Stanford's very best teams -- one of the best women's basketball players there ever was.

Your humble narrator remembers her from an unusual incident in the late 1990s in which we were both ejected from the media room during a Stanford basketball game.

Jennifer Azzi
  • Jennifer Azzi
Doing some quick math, this would probably have been around 1996; I was covering the Cal women's basketball team for The Daily Californian.

The record will show that, for a lengthy period in the 1990s, Cal's

women's team lost approximately 347 consecutive games to Stanford; Azzi

played no small part in this. By this time Azzi was a decorated

professional, but Stanford continued to kick Cal's ass. Ever thus.


any event, I'm not going to begrudge the quality of a University of

California education in the 1990s, but I will say this: That there was

shrimp cocktail in the Stanford media room during halftime was nothing

less than a revelation. At Cal, the press box sandwiches for Saturday's football games -- from a place called

"Cheese and Stuff" -- were delivered on

Tuesday. Perhaps staring, agape, at an elegantly displayed mountain of

shrimp is code behavior for a gate-crasher. Because that's when I felt

the icy grip on my wrist. 

At Cal, security positions were filled by students or community residents. At Stanford -- at least back then -- these jobs were almost certainly volunteer positions, given to the oldest, most crotchety, and, preferably, hard-of-hearing men you can imagine.

Despite my valid press pass, my greenhorn behavior and youthful visage ran afoul of this man's sensibilities regarding who should be allowed within the inner sanctum of a basketball media room. I was pulled to the entryway, given a geriatric shove, and told -- I kid you not -- "Get out and stay out." Yes, the very language used to banish Sylvester P. Pussycat from the premises in a Warner Bros. cartoon was shouted my way.

It was at this point that a stunningly good-looking young woman of moderate height wearing a sharply cut business suit attempted to enter the media room. But the old fellow wasn't having it. He threw her out, too. I can't recall if he grabbed her by the elbow as he did me, but I wouldn't be surprised. The woman was surprised, though. Because she was Jennifer Azzi.

If memory serves, this mix-up didn't last long. Azzi soon managed to get into the room -- and, evidently, she advanced in her basketball career. Good luck to her and the Dons. Hopefully the next venue we're both thrown out of is even more exclusive. 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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