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Chris Dufresne

Rebels Face Bug of Titan Proportions

January 18, 1987|Chris Dufresne

We're Cal State Fullerton's basketball team and we ache all over. We need warm blankets and soft pillows and chicken soup and soda crackers and any flu remedy that will make these snakes disappear.

Our heads are burning up. (Awww--cheeew!). . . . We get cold flashes and then hot flashes. Our noses are running and our legs are weak. We can't even stand on our own two feet. We'd just as soon die and get it over with. We can't keep our meals or our jump shots down. Please, the snakes, someone kill the snakes.

What we need is some grandmother who'll come to Titan Infirmary and seal up the windows and turn up the humidifier. (Cough . . . cough.) We need to sleep for about a week in a dark room with the heat turned up and the lights turned off.

We need Kleenex.

What we don't need right now is Nevada Las Vegas. We don't need Coach Jerry Tarkanian walking into Titan Gym on Monday night with a towel stuffed in his mouth. We need the towels more than he does. We need to play the No. 1-ranked Rebels like we need another trip to the bathroom. We don't need Vegas' sky-scraping, backboard-breaking forward Armon Gilliam either.

We need Arm & Hammer, the baking soda.

And we don't need them coming off a one-point loss to Oklahoma Saturday.

Why now? Why Vegas? Why us? Yeah, a month ago we give Vegas a game. We're 7-1 and in UPI's Top 20 poll. Do you know how we spelled respect, man? It was T-I-T-A-N-S. That was us.

Now look at us, shivering here in bed with thermometers sticking out of our mouths.

We're in bad shape, man. We're fading fast. We've lost four of five games and four out of five starters. We've lost our coach to bronchial pneumonia. George McQuarn misses a game about as often as Benoit Benjamin misses a meal.

So how do you think we felt last Thursday against UC Irvine with McQuarn at home, barely able to lift his head off the pillow?

We felt lousy, of course. Then we shot lousy, played lousy, lost lousy and showered lousy.

We're pleading with you, Vegas. Go home. We can't guard your guard Freddie Banks when our legs feel like strained rigatoni. Our only hope is that our wheezing affects his jump shot.

Come back, Las Vegas, when our sinuses have drained, when we can stand without leaning on a table. Don't do to us what you did to Irvine a few weeks back. We don't lose by 42 points. We're better than that. We've got the film.

You should've seen us on Dec. 23 when we blew Loyola Marymount out by 23 at its place.

Then we lose to UCLA by one at Pauley, but that game goes either way.

We aren't sure how it started. Who does? We're on one of these glamour Titan bus rides from Fresno to Stockton when one of our guys, Oval Miller, starts looking real strange.

We're on a bus (cough, cough . . .). We can't go anywhere. And we're breathing this guy's germs.

We get to Pacific and stink up the arena. We lose bad. Before we know it, this virus is doing the wave through our roster.

Of course, the seven-hour bus ride back from Stockton doesn't help any. But you know us penny-pinching Titans.

McQuarn is so steamed over the loss that we practice as soon as the bus hit Fullerton. It was 4:45 a.m. We ran for almost two hours. Then we ran toward the porcelain.

Maybe that practice wasn't such a good idea.

We can't shake this thing for the life of us. It's swept through our team like the plague. Trainers are coughing, sports information directors, statisticians. We're walking death.

We blow another game to Santa Barbara on Jan. 10. One of our guys, Alexander Hamilton, is too sick to suit up. Vincent Blow and Miller dress for the game, but that physical act alone wipes them out. They barely make it through warmups.

McQuarn's cough turns to a hack. The hack turns to pneumonia. Our team's sicker than our statistics.

We'd beaten Irvine six straight times until Thursday. If they were smart, they'd have worn surgical masks on the court.

(Hack, hack. . . .) Rearrange your schedule, Vegas. Please. For your own good. Play us now and you risk catching this thing. Imagine your main man, Gilliam, about 20 pounds lighter with a hot-water bottle on his forehead. Imagine going to the NCAA Tournament with Banks and Jarvis Basnight on heavy medication.

(Cough, cough.) . . . Don't get close to us, Vegas. You'll win by 40 points but you'll pay for it.

We can reschedule the game for July near some hot springs. Whatta you say? What joy is there in beating a team full of players who can't bend over to lace their shoes without falling over? So you ambush a team whose coach is at home staring at a ceiling and seeing spots. So what?

Give us a break, Las Vegas.


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