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CAL STATE FULLERTON NOTEBOOK : Small Investment May Pay Off on Titan Balance Sheet

November 13, 1990|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

FULLERTON — Cal State Fullerton basketball Coach John Sneed couldn't place too much stock in Friday night's Blue-Orange intrasquad scrimmage.

With several players recovering from the flu and other minor injuries, the Titans weren't close to being in peak physical condition. And with only 13 players available for two teams, there wasn't much rest for the weary.

Fatigue certainly contributed to Fullerton's 50 turnovers (29 for the Orange team, 21 for the Blue) and some sloppy play.

But on the profit side of the scrimmage balance sheet was the play of Titan guard Joe Small, who appears to be a high-yield investment for Sneed, and forwards Ron Caldwell and Agee Ward, who seem bullish in the key.

Small, a 6-foot-2 junior from College of the Sequoias, scored 35 points, including a five-of-seven performance from three-point range. He made 14 of 21 field-goal attempts.

The former Bolsa Grande High School standout, who led state community college scorers with a 25.3 average last season, showed Friday that he's a legitimate outside scoring threat.

"He has range and can really knock it down when he's open," Sneed said. "But he's more than an outside threat. He has a great feel for playing against zones, getting in gaps, penetrating and getting open."

What could hurt Fullerton is that Small may be the Titans' only solid outside threat. Fullerton will need some inside scoring to take the heat off Small, and this is where Caldwell and Ward might help.

Caldwell, a 6-8, 220-pound senior who played in 12 games after gaining midyear eligibility last season, scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds Friday night. Ward, a 6-5, 225-pound junior, added 25 points and 14 rebounds.

Caldwell, who had reconstructive knee surgery while at the University of Washington in 1987, displayed a soft shooting touch inside and tenacity on the boards. Ward, who started 13 games last year, also looked strong underneath.

"They're our muscle guys," Sneed said. "Ron has a nice touch for a big guy and can convert under the basket. And Agee had his flashes. I don't know who will start, but they'll both be among our top nine players."

Sneed will have another chance to evaluate his young team Saturday when the Titans play host to a touring Australian team at 7:35 p.m. Fullerton will have one more exhibition, against Christian Athletes on Nov. 21, before opening the season Nov. 26 at Lamar.

"You won't find too many coaches pleased with many phases of their teams this time of year," Sneed said. "We have a ways to go, and there's a lot of room for improvement."

A planned $7.8-million project to expand Titan Gym suffered a setback last week when Proposition 143, the Higher Education Facilities Bond Act, failed to pass on the state ballot.

The school was planning to use $223,000 in Prop. 143 funds to pay for architectural drawings for the 45,000-square-foot, two-story expansion to the south side of the gym.

But now that those funds are unavailable, the project, which was scheduled for construction beginning in the summer of 1992 and completion in the winter of 1993, could be delayed.

"We'll be hunting for state funds," said Jay Bond, the school's associate vice president for facility planning and construction. "I don't know what the prospects are, but the situation is urgent at this point."

More encouraging for Bond has been the progress of the Titan Sports Complex and the performance of the project's builder, Taylor Woodrow Construction California Ltd.

Taylor Woodrow, which has been heavily criticized for its recent work on the John Wayne Airport terminal and the Anaheim Convention Center, is already ahead of schedule, despite starting only six weeks ago.

Mass excavation for the project was supposed to start next week. But as of last Friday, Bond said excavation was 40% complete, and workers are already installing underground utilities.

"They're doing things real fast," Bond said. "I think it's been a combination of effective scheduling and enthusiasm. They're not letting moss grow under their feet. I wasn't pleased about Prop. 143 not passing, but this is wonderful."

Kisa Hughes, a 6-4 center from Riverside's J.W. North High, and Lianne Ishikawa, a 5-3 point guard from Ventura's Buena High, have made oral commitments to play basketball at Fullerton. Both said they will sign letters of intent Wednesday.

Hughes averaged 8.2 points and 13 rebounds per game last season to lead J.W. North to a 20-3 record. She is the daughter of Ron Hughes, who played two seasons at Fullerton in the late 1960s and is now chairman of the school's sociology department.

Ishikawa averaged eight points and eight assists per game to help Buena to a 26-2 record and was a second-team, All-Ventura County selection.

Titan Notes

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