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Gene Wojciechowski

Low-Flying Titans Play Their Way Into McQuarn's 2-a-Days

January 17, 1988|Gene Wojciechowski

In an attempt to somehow revive his foundering Cal State Fullerton basketball team, Coach George McQuarn recently decided that practice makes perfect. And practice it will--not once, but twice a day.

Right off the bat, I can think of two university groups that probably wanted to reject McQuarn's mandate: the Fullerton basketball team and, of course, the Fullerton laundry support staff.

But the Titans (4-10) deserved it. After all, wasn't this the same Fullerton team that found itself chosen third in the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. coaches' preseason poll? Two coaches--surely under a doctor's care now--even picked the Titans to win the conference title, over San Jose State, and ever perennial favorite Nevada Las Vegas.

But look at it from their vantage point. The Titans had Richard Morton, who became close personal friends with double figures long ago. Points--20 or so a game--usually had a way of finding Morton in the box score.

They had Henry Turner: dependable enough, a streak shooter who can carry a team on occasion.

They had oodles of transfer players, such guys as John Sykes from Texas; Van Anderson, a forward-guard, from Oregon State, and Bobby Adair, once considered the most promising of the three.

They also welcomed Marlon Vaughn, a point guard who missed last season because of Proposition 48. Vaughn was expected to provide starter Eugene Jackson with some rest.

And they had McQuarn, who has been known to coach a game or two.

All in all, the makings of a nice little PCAA team that finishes third or even second, maybe even causes some damage at the conference tournament. After that, who knows?

Yes, well, you can pretty much forget that top-three finish. Or top four. Or five. Or six. Or continue until you exhaust yourself.

Fullerton has lost all five of its conference games, and unless it can figure out a way to play, say, Pacific all the time, the Titans could be in for a dreadful second half or, to put it in real terms, the social equivalent of vacationing with the in-laws for a month or so.

Like everyone else, McQuarn figured he had a team worth watching this season. Of course, that was before forward Derek Jones was shot in a freak occurrence outside his Long Beach home last August, one day before classes began at Fullerton. Jones, a starter last year, is undergoing rehabilitation, and his playing career most likely is finished.

As for the transfer brigade, things could be better.

Adair recently returned from a two-game suspension (reasons unknown). Good thing, too, since Fullerton can use him at power forward.

Anderson, a sometime starter, can guard the best the PCAA has to offer. Now if only someone would teach him that his shots are supposed to go in the basket.

Poor Anderson. Before Wednesday's game against UNLV, McQuarn said: "We need a win and Van Anderson needs a bucket." Sure enough, Anderson scored nine unexpected points in the first half . . . and zilch in the second.

Meanwhile, Sykes is occasionally referred to by McQuarn as "a mistake," as in, "We made a mistake on John Sykes." Sykes (6-8, 235 pounds) looks like a basketball player. Trouble is, he doesn't play like one at the moment.

Among those left on the Titan roster is Jackson, who, in McQuarn's judgment, made the grievous mistake of passing to Turner rather than driving to the basket in the final seconds of that loss to UNLV. And Vaughn, whose turnovers have kept him seated on the bench most of the game. And Turner, who has been bothered by an injured ankle and inconsistent shooting.

About the only guy who deserves to be excused from the second workout is Morton, who remains Fullerton's bread and butter and entree and dessert and after-dinner drink. Until a miserable performance against UNLV (6 points, 2 of 14 field goal attempts), Morton had scored in double figures 30 consecutive times.

Yet Fullerton lost by just six after having a chance to win in the waning moments. Maybe there is hope. Maybe you can glance at the Fullerton schedule and find a game here and there that the Titans should have, would have won if only Turner didn't hurt his ankle, or Adair didn't get thrown out for fighting, or Jackson took the ball to the basket.

Nah. They lost, fair and square.

If they're smart, though, the Titans will find a way to beat Utah State Thursday. Just think of the possibilities if they don't.

Six-a-days . . . 12-a-days . . . practices every hour, on the hour . . .

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