2003-04 Basketball Preview: Point Guards

This is not your ordinary preview. The publisher of TitanCentral.com and two of the most passionate, insightful posters (Throwback and Rufus) on the TitanCentral.com message boards preview the 2003-04 season.

Point Guards
Zakee Smith
Bobby Brown
Denver Lopez

Previews: Whit Haydon (Throwback) | Mike Welton (Rufus) | Paul Causey

Whit Haydon, aka Throwback

The Titans look to have a "two-headed monster" situation in store for the point guard spot.

On one hand you have Zakee Smith, a proven point guard in the Big West who can protect the ball and is a scrapper defensively. Zakee can also take care of the ball in a hostile environment and is something that Fullerton has lacked in recent years. Clearly everybody knows with Zakee you get a lot of positives but there, of course, is the downside, which is shooting shots worth 3 points, 2 points, or 1 point, in no particular order.

 2003-04 Preview

Monday: Introduction
  Point Guards
Tuesday: Shooting Guards
Wednesday: Small Forwards
  Power Forwards
Thursday: Centers
  Season Outlook
Friday: Predictions

Enter Bobby Brown, a true freshman from a powerhouse high school program who has demonstrated some ability to connect from three point land as evidenced by his 7 for 8 performance in an earlier exhibition win. Brown has shown tremendous court awareness and a fearlessness that belies a freshman. Questions will soon be answered with respect to how well he will compose himself on the road and in close ballgames.

Denver Lopez will not figure in the point guard rotation.

What's In Store: I look for Zakee to start at the point until Bobby Brown's inspired and fearless play force coach Bob Burton no other choice but to hand the reigns over Brown once and for all. If Brown does not play to his suddenly lofty expectations, then you essentially have a great fallback position with Zakee Smith, who by all means is a very good point guard. The point guard spot is the best it has been in quite some time in the north 714. Titan fans will be all the better off for this upturn at a position that bears a troubled past in Titan lore. A solid B- grade, with some chance for improvement as the year progresses.

Grade: B

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Mike Welton, aka Rufus

Probably the strength of the team.  Zakee Smith is the second best point guard in the Big West, behind Mark Brown of USU.  Zakee lead the Big West in assists, despite being hampered by bad knees and the Slo-O; Zakee should excel in Burton's up tempo offense. 

LB (Bobby Brown) is an exciting player, with much of the same strengths of Zakee. He will be a more than adequate back up.  Hopefully, he will not make common freshman mistakes.

For the first time in many years, we shouldn't have a let down when we bring in the back up point guard.  D-Lo (Denver Lopez) - pathetic. As the 11th man, hopefully he wears a hole in his end of the bench.

Best of the rest of the Big West:  Brown(USU) and Gloger(UCI)

Grade:  B, would be higher, if they could play better defense and shoot better.

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Paul Causey, TitanCentral.com

The best thing to happen to Zakee Smith was a coaching change from former Titan Donny Daniels to Northern California native Bob Burton. Burton has done a complete overhaul of the offense and has decided on a controlled fast break style referred to as the Kansas Break which suits Smith to a tee. It was a dream come true for a guy who led the nation by averaging 14 assists during his sophomore season at Panola Junior College in Texas.

It's no secret Smith is not a good shooter but his assists to turnover ratio more than make up for his lack of an outside shot. He is also not a very good defender. Some believe this is why Daniels went strictly to a zone last year and this year could pose a problem as Burton has gone on record saying he prefers man-to-man over a zone. Even with all his deficiencies, Smith projects as a Top 3 point guard in the Big West.

Smith was inked early on as the starter at this position and before Burton arrived, the depth at point guard was a real question mark. Last season the backup duties went to SF Anthony Bolton and, to a much lesser extent, DII transfer Denver Lopez. Not your ideal candidates in a system that likes to run.

That's where true freshman Bobby Brown comes into action. Signed late and snagged from Long Beach State where he was going to walk-on, it appears Burton may have stumbled onto a gem of a player.

Brown is a lightning quick point guard who has made an immediate impact on the Fullerton program., LB, which stands for "Little Bobby"),has only two exhibitions under his belt but he has already become a fan favorite with his passing, shooting and hustle on the defensive end. He has everything Smith lacks (shooting, defense) but sees the floor just as well.

The anti-LB's will point out the fact he is only a freshman and appears to be "too flashy" but Burton is going to find it extremely difficult to keep him on the bench, no matter what label is put on his back. He may not be starting for awhile but he will be finishing many games because of his free-throw shooting ability and the fact Smith has proven his ability to shoot from the charity stripe.

Lopez is an enigma and if he plays at all it will be in blowouts.

Bottom Line: Who would have thought we would have a controversy at this position? Most fans are extremely happy with Smith as our point man but if LB proves in practice and in games, day in and day out, that he is the better of the two, he should be starting. Our best case scenario would be that LB pushes Smith to work harder on his shot and on the defensive side of things and remains the starter. Worst case scenario is LB becomes our starter. Both options are very appealing.

Grade: A-

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