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Focus : Northridge Notebook

Burrell Is Northridge's Long Shot

October 26, 2000

Don't count on John Burrell whistling a chorus of "Sweet Georgia Brown" or tossing a bucket of confetti courtside this season for Cal State Northridge.

Do count on Burrell scoring points, particularly from long range.

Burrell, a senior guard, might be the son of a former Harlem Globetrotter, but he is all business when it comes to basketball.

A former Times' All-Valley guard for Highland High, Burrell sat out last season after transferring from Nevada. Burrell played at Antelope Valley College, where he was ranked 21st among the nation's junior college players in 1997 and was among the state's best three-point shooters.

Burrell and Northridge guard Markus Carr, who attended Palmdale High, are friends from youth league. Wherever he has played, Burrell has poured in points.

"Last year was different because I'm used to playing, but it was a good learning year," Burrell said.

"I got to learn the system and take care of some school stuff. I plan to help this team in any way I can."

Stan "Chico" Burrell starred for the Globetrotters during the 1960s and lives in West Covina. But Burrell said he inherited little pizazz from his pop.

"Truthfully, not much," he said. "I think I just inherited the basketball [skill]. And [shooting] the long ball."

*

Mike Johnson better be more careful when push comes to shove. Or when it comes to pushing and shoving.

Johnson, Northridge's top assistant, suffered a broken bone in his left hand during a recent practice while demonstrating a move against center Dan Read.

The injury might require surgery, said Johnson, who stands more than a foot shorter than Read, the Matadors' tallest player at 6 feet 10.

Still, Johnson does not intend to give up his duties of working with the team's big men.

"We were working underneath and I was just trying to give him some resistance," Johnson said.

"But he's about a foot taller than me."

Said Read, jokingly: "He was trying to toughen me up, but I had to show him who's boss."

*

Danny Sprinkle is a welcome addition this season to the Northridge coaching staff. At least, Sprinkle no longer is a thorn in the Matadors' collective side.

Sprinkle, a former three-point specialist for Montana State, had some of his biggest games against the Matadors, including the Bobcats' memorable 91-90 victory in the first round of the Big Sky Conference tournament in 1999.

Sprinkle's three-pointer with 34 seconds to play gave Montana State an 89-88 lead.

Sprinkle had 22 points in an 87-82 victory at Northridge the same season.

*

The Matadors have a beefier front court this season. Read and Brian Heinle, 6-9, have added a few pounds, and forward Jermar Welch, a 6-7 senior, returns after being sidelined most of last season because of torn ligaments in his left thumb.

Welch was injured while making a dunk early in the season against USC and did not play again. Welch returned for the playoffs but did not see playing time.

"I was working on coming back, but I didn't get in," Welch said. "I'm ready this year. My hand feels fine."

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