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COLLEGE BASKETBALL 1996-97 | CS FULLERTON

Hawking Expecting to Make Right Turn

November 21, 1996|LON EUBANKS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In two seasons as Cal State Fullerton's basketball coach, Bob Hawking must have learned all there is to know about Murphy's Law: Whatever can go wrong will, especially for the downtrodden.

It has been one setback after another for Fullerton teams during Hawking's tenure.

The Titans have won only 13 games during that time, and the team's six victories last season--against 20 defeats--were the school's fewest since the 1965 team won one of 25 games. Add the 8-19 record in Brad Holland's last season as coach in 1993-1994, and the three-year stretch is the worst in the program's history.

But Hawking is optimistic that the tide is going to change.

"We think this will be a breakthrough season for us," he said.

Things didn't get off to the best possible start. Ike Harmon, a 6-foot-7 forward from Santa Ana Valley High who was expected to improve the team immediately, failed to qualify academically, and will sit out his freshman season.

Guard Brian Thomas, whose three-point basket at the buzzer gave the Titans an overtime victory over San Diego State last season, dropped out because of academic problems.

Then, even before the first exhibition game was played, junior guard Chris St. Clair broke a bone in his left hand that may keep him on the sideline for the season-opener Friday at Brigham Young.

And Monday, only four days before the opener, Hawking learned that sophomore point guard Kenroy Jarrett, who started 13 games last season, will need knee surgery. He is expected to be out four to six weeks, and Hawking expects him to sit out at least seven games.

It's typical of the frustrations the Titans have faced under Hawking.

St. Clair was one of the team's most promising players as a sophomore two years ago. He sparked an early-season victory at Nevada Las Vegas, averaged 10 points a game and finished as the team's second-leading scorer. However, he sat out the final three games of the season because of a knee injury that required surgery.

St. Clair played in the first five games last season, but recurring pain and a lack of mobility forced him to sit out the rest of the season, although he retained the year of eligibility.

Last season the Titans won three of their first six games, and even managed a 2-0 start in the Big West Conference with victories over UC Irvine and Nevada Las Vegas, but a series of injuries drained the team's limited depth, and Fullerton won only one of its last 11 games.

Hawking says the difference this season is depth and experience.

"Now that we have some experienced Division I basketball players, we think we'll be able to move up," Hawking said. "I'm encouraged. We have some stability and some continuity now."

Power forward John Williams, who led the team in rebounding and was second in scoring with a 14.2 average last year, showed he was a capable Division I player as a junior transfer, but his effectiveness was limited by the lack of another strong player inside. Hawking expects him to be more of a threat.

The other starting forward probably will be 6-6 Craig Whitehead, a transfer from Belleville College in Illinois.

Senior Dirk Rassloff, sophomore Mark Richardson and junior DeVaughn Wright are other returning frontcourt players. The Titans also add junior Wyki Tyson, who sat out last season.

Chris Dade, a 6-2 junior guard who averaged 12.5 points a game last season, is the team's strongest defensive player.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

CS Fullerton Facts and Figures

ROSTER

No.: 3

Player: Dane Plock

Pos.: G

Ht.: 6-1

Wt.: 170

Yr.: Fr

Comment: Could contribute in first season.

*

No.: 10

Player: Ali Nayab

Pos.: G

Ht.: 5-10

Wt.: 160

Yr.: Sr.

Comment: Started part time at point guard in '95-96.

*

No.: 31

Player: Wyki Tyson

Pos.: F

Ht.: 6-8

Wt.: 225

Yr.: Jr.

Comment: Sat out last year as Eastern Kentucky transfer.

*

No.: 12

Player: Chris Dade

Pos.: G

Ht.: 6-2

Wt.: 205

Yr.: Jr.

Comment: Two-year starter averaged 12.5 points in '95-96.

*

No.: 14

Player: Kenroy Jarrett

Pos.: G

Ht.: 5-11

Wt.: 160

Yr.: So

Comment: Part-time starter at point guard as freshman.

*

No.: 15

Player: Dirk Rassloff

Pos.: C

Ht.: 6-9

Wt.: 245

Yr.: Sr

Comment: Started nine games for Titans last season.

*

No.: 22

Player: Josh Leighton

Pos.: G-F

Ht.: 6-5

Wt.: 185

Yr.: Fr

Comment: Played at Sacramento High.

*

No.: 24

Player: Chris St. Clair

Pos.: G

Ht.: 6-0

Wt.: 170

Yr.: Jr

Comment: Titans' No. 2 scorer (10 points a game) in '94-95.

*

No.: 25

Player: Craig Whitehead

Pos.: F

Ht.: 6-6

Wt.: 190

Yr.: Jr

Comment: Transfer is expected to be starter.

*

No.: 34

Player: John Williams

Pos.: F

Ht.: 6-5

Wt.: 220

Yr.: Sr.

Comment: Titans' most talented player inside.

*

No.: 42

Player: Mark Richardson

Pos.: C-F

Ht.: 6-7

Wt.: 215

Yr.: So

Comment: On All-Big West freshman team in '95-96.

*

No.: 44

Player: DeVaughn Wright

Pos.: F

Ht.: 6-6

Wt.: 215

Yr.: Jr

Comment: Improved, could help this season.

* Coach: Bob Hawking, third season, 13-40.

* 1995-96 record: 6-20, 5-13 (10th).

* Tournament: Last NCAA appearance in 1978.

* Returning starters (3): Williams, Dade, Richardson.

SCHEDULE

*--*

Date Opponent Time Friday at Brigham Young 6 Nov. 30 Utah 7 Dec. 3 at Montana 6:30 Dec. 7 at Loyola Marymount 7 Dec. 10 at San Diego 7 Dec. 14 Loyola of Chicago 7 Dec. 21 Pepperdine 7 Dec. 28 Brown 7 Dec. 30 Columbia 7 Jan. 4 at Gonzaga 7:30 Jan. 11 Pacific 7 Jan. 13 Long Beach State 7 Jan. 16 at UC Santa Barbara 7:30 Jan. 18 at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 7 Jan. 23 Utah State 7 Jan. 25 at UC Irvine 7 Jan. 30 at Idaho 7 Feb. 1 at Boise State 6:30 Feb. 6 New Mexico State 7 Feb. 8 North Texas 7 Feb. 13 UC Irvine 7 Feb. 15 at Nevada 7:30 Feb. 20 at Pacific 7 Feb. 22 at Long Beach State 7:30 Feb. 27 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 7 March 1 UC Santa Barbara 7 March 7 Big West tournament TBA

*--*

* All times Pacific and p.m. unless noted.

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