Some time before the new year, William Alexander will become the all-time basketball scoring leader at Cal State Dominguez Hills, and chances are good he will become the career leader in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. later this season.
Alexander is off to a terrific start, averaging 20 points a game and shooting nearly 60% to pace the Toros to a 7-2 start. After a 10-day Christmas break, they play host to Cal State Hayward on Saturday, when the school record figures to fall. Alexander (1,328 points) needs only seven to replace Eddie Fitzpatrick as the school's all-time scorer. If the record doesn't come Saturday, Alexander will get another chance Tuesday against Malone College at home. The conference record, 1,551, was set by Eric Butler of Chapman College in 1982.
Alexander, a four-year starter, has improved as a senior and has benefited from the Toros' multifaceted improvement, which is evident in nearly very phase. The Toros' stronger inside play from sophomores Tony Akins and Anthony Blackmon and three-point shooting capability from guards John Nojima and Vico Nomaaea have opened things up for Alexander, who excels in an open-court game.
Alexander had a career-high 34 points last week against San Francisco State and, at 6-4, has been extremely effective inside. His leaping ability, aggressive moves with the ball and overall athleticism make it possible for him to outplay taller opponents near the basket.
But through his four-year career, there has been one unusual constant in Alexander's performance--an inability to hit foul shots consistently. Alexander's free throw accuracy has hovered around his field goal percentage during his entire college career, which is confounding for such a prolific scorer and a puzzlement to Alexander and Coach Dave Yanai.
In his first three years Alexander hit 150 of 271 foul shots, a .554 percentage. That compares to a field goal percentage of .532. This season Alexander is shooting 21 for 44 from the line--48%. In his 34-point game he missed three of five, leaving him a point short of the school record. "He could have had 40," Yanai said. "He missed two or three easy shots. He lost his concentration a little. I told him in a close game that could be the ballgame."
Alexander is not a classic jump shooter, but he and Yanai feel the problem is mechanical as well as psychological.
"I'm sure some of it is on his mind," Yanai said. "He's got to take time to shoot 100 to 150 every day, technically correct. You have to go to the line (in a game) and just stroke it, not think about it. It has to be just a reflex. Maybe we need to get him to shoot 200."
Alexander says he is working on it and admits the declining percentage is working on him. "Mentally, it's there when I'm at the line that it won't fall," he said. "I'm still going to stay positive with it. It's not as bad as I make it."
Yanai finds it frustrating because Alexander has a knack for drawing fouls inside. If he was a more effective free throw shooter, he could conceivably have another 100 points in his career. "He really needs to address that particular skill," Yanai says with a sigh.
However, the coach is not complaining about his star, who has eclipsed former Toro stars Fitzpatrick, James Shaw, Tim Watson and Kevin Burrell.
"He's just playing tremendous basketball," Yanai said. "He's improved every year he's been with us. He's never ceased to work on his game, expand his game.
"Physically I felt he was maybe a little more gifted (than the former Toro stars). It was just going to be a matter of building his skills from a raw talent to a polished one. Now, it's kind of like seeing a flower blooming."
The Loyola Marymount University women's basketball team has already matched last season's victory total of three, but the improvement is coming at a price. Coach Todd Corman is without forwards Stephanie Fleischaker and Michelle Bettencourt, who had arthroscopic surgery for injuries suffered in a game. Bettencourt is expected to miss three to five weeks, while the preliminary forecast for Fleischaker is five to eight weeks.
After seven games the Lions (3-4) were leading the conference in rebounding. Amy Atkinson was tops with an average of 11 per game and Chris Connolly was sixth at 8. The Lions will be at home Saturday against UC Irvine.