2003-04 Basketball Preview: Centers

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.

Pape Sow
Babacar Camara

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

Whit Haydon, aka Throwback

A Pape Sow that does not come to play on a given night is still about the best rebounder in the league.

When he plays within himself, you have a pretty fair offensive player. Certainly he is not and should not be the center of Fullerton's offensive focus as it has failed in the past to have him in such a lofty role.

 2003-04 Preview

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

His post defense is a glaring weakness that can often be exploited by largely unheralded players and that has been a thorn in his side in his time here at Fullerton. He has dramatically increased his free throw shooting ability which is no minor matter, considering he gets fouled a lot. Of the most concern is Pape's propensity to commit stupid foul that lands him on the bench for major minutes -- that's when trouble figures to brew for the Titans.

Babacar Camara will backup Pape and play minutes that would largely depend on Pape's foul situation. Babacar has been plagued by injury in his years at Fullerton, and it would be a stretch to hope he can get through this season without some injury sometime setting him back.

Babacar will need to contribute with some rebounding when he is in the game and play within himself on the low post, kicking the ball out if a team decides for some reason that they should double on him. It is hoped by Titan fans that Babacar's work in the program will pay off and that the interest that Bob Burton has taken in him will result in Babacar playing quality minutes when they are afforded to him.

What's In Store: Pape has not shown that he can play consistent basketball other than a nice stretch late in 2002 that saw him rebounding and improving on offense.

Last year Pape could have been distracted with other things on his mind and was unable to generate anything of note until the last couple games. Pape will need to play a full season without any interruption from injury to get the continuity needed to carry the team. He will need to rebound over 15 a game, yes something outlandish, to fulfill his obligations to this club which is to rebound like nobody's business.

Babacar will have to support him in a back up capacity and provide quality minutes and rebounding the basketball.

Some may find it a surprise to not see a higher grade at the center spot, but with other players in the league such as Adam Parada and Varnie Dennis, Pape Sow would have to have proven already that he could thrive against other teams stars to earn higher regard. On the extreme however, a player of the year award for Pape Sow is not out of the question. I look for Pape to play harder than ever to improve his marketability to the next level.

Grade: B-


Mike Welton, aka Rufus

Along with point guard, the the center position is strength of the team.

Pape Sow has had the NBA looking at him for two years. He has the magical "potential" label. If he wants to play, he is the dominate player in the BW; however, he tends to get a little lazy. After last season, and with those troubles behind him, I look for him to have the breakout season that we have all hoped for.

I think he should average a double/double and win the Big West POY, but to do that, he must play hard and LEAD this team to a top three finish.

Babacar Camara looks to be a little improved, and should be an adequate back up. He looks like he WANTS to play this year.

Grade: A

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Paul Causey, TitanCentral.com

To wonder if Pape Sow has a future playing basketball all one has to do is look at this line: 26 points, 20 rebounds in 22 minutes. Does it matter it was only an exhibition? Not at all. This is impressive anyway you look at it.

Sow oozes with potential and this is his final year at Cal State Fullerton to prove all the hype he has received is deserved. TitanCentral.com, and elsewhere in the net, as well from all the NBA scouts who have been watching him since he was a sophomore have all put him in a league of his own. Now it's time to party.

At his best, there no one better in the Big West -- or for that matter, in Titan basketball history -- who is better at his position. At his worst, he still is not bad. Sow is already showing big improvement over last year under the tutelage of new Titan head coach Bob Burton.

He is much more aggressive on the boards and his defense is showing improvement. Avoiding foul trouble will still be a problem but Burton showed he is not afraid to sit him when he gets two quick fouls.

Of course having another 6-10, 250 lbs. backup will make this decision for Burton easier to swallow. While Sow is easily the best center in the Big West, Babacar Camara would be a starter on most Big West teams.

This year Camara has been taken under Burton's wings and both are committed to improving Babacar's skills. Babacar will still do some things which make Titan fans cringe but, as the season moves on, he will improve.

Camara needs to work on staying aggressive and rebounding but he has the skills necessary to give us 10-15 minutes a game of excellent backup to Pape. If he continues to improve and avoids the injury bug, look for a twin towers set to be run on occasion as well.

Bottom Line: Two big, strong, athletic, quality centers should amount to more than 5 to 10 wins a year alone. Just need a system which uses their ability for maximum output. Does Burton's offense foot the bill? So far, so good.

Grade: A+

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