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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

In Full Song

Valley Expects Injured Point Guard Cun to Be Healthy for Playoffs

February 22, 2001|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VALLEY GLEN — A lane was open and Song Cun of Valley College saw nothing but open space to an easy layup.

So Cun dribbled hard to the basket, took off from the floor and . . . Bam! He got the Emeril treatment.

Two large road blocks from the other team, the types who don't like 5-foot-7 guys entering their territory, stepped in the way and leveled Cun.

"He got hammered," Valley Coach Doug Michelson said. "He was down for about four or five minutes."

The body inventory revealed a strained knee ligament and twisted ankle. That was four games ago at Bakersfield and Cun has played sparingly since while nursing the injuries.

But the sophomore point guard from Lincoln High in East L.A. says he's ready to go against Pasadena (12-19) in a Southern California regional first-round game Saturday night at Valley (21-11).

"It's feeling a lot better," Cun said.

The Monarchs, champions of the Western State Conference Southern Division for the second consecutive season, lost one of the last three games and Michelson is eager for his playmaker to return.

"We sputtered without him," Michelson said.

Cun became a starter just before division play started in early January and sparked the Monarchs, who were barely .500 at the time, to a 10-2 division record.

He is averaging 6.6 points, 3.3 assists and leading the WSC in three-point shooting at 47.8% (32 of 67), but his real value comes from running Valley's offense.

"His leadership and stability, that's where he makes his contribution," Michelson said. "He makes the Monarch Machine go."

Cun's skills at point guard surfaced at Alpine Recreation Center in Chinatown, where he joined the basketball program run by Tony Wong for youngsters of Asian descent.

"I believe he was an eighth-grader when he started coming here and he was very polished for his age," said Wong, whose teams have traveled to tournaments in China and Australia. "He's one of the top 10 or 12 guys we've had.

"On our traveling teams, he scores a lot of points. A couple of years ago, he scored 42 points against a Chinese all-star team that had just finished playing a tournament in Hawaii. Their coach was really impressed with Song."

Cun went from Lincoln to Valley at the suggestion of former Monarch guard Benny Hoang, a friend and sometime teammate at Alpine.

"I couldn't play my senior [season] in high school; I was ineligible," Cun said. "I saw Benny play a lot at Valley and one time Coach Michelson asked me if I wanted to come play here."

At Valley last season, Cun was the backup point guard. He was not only eligible, but received the team's scholar-athlete award for his 3.8 grade-point average. He has a 3.6 GPA this year and plans to pursue a career in business.

"There's school and basketball for [Cun], and nothing else," said Hoang, who played at Cal State L.A. after Valley and is a management trainee at a bank.

The Monarchs, seeded No. 6 in the playoffs, are aiming for the state championships in Stockton on March 8-10. They reached the semifinals last season at University of the Pacific and Cun believes the team has the firepower to return.

To get there, Valley must win three regional games, including a possible matchup with No. 3-seeded Moorpark (22-5) in the third round on March 3. The Monarchs lost at home to Moorpark, 77-68, in a WSC interdivisional game on Jan. 10 that ended with punches thrown and verbal salvos.

The Monarchs need to keep Cun healthy, directing the flow safely from the outside and not challenging too many big players around the basket. But Cun is not planning to change his aggressive style of play.

"As a point guard, my goal is to make us play hard for 40 minutes," Cun said. "Every time I'm on the floor, I just try to make things happen."

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