Eastern Washington, which went to the NIT last year and finished with a 18-13 record, returns three starters including two-time All-Big Sky Conference guard Alvin Snow.
Thus far this season, the Eagles are struggling with just a 2-5 record. They have played a very tough schedule to date -- 51st according to Sagarin --and have actually been in just about every one.
EWU's problems seem to begin in the second half. They either have trouble holding leads or fall much further behind.
In their season opener, the Eagles led No. 11 Oklahoma 58-51 with seven minutes remaining and ended with a 10 point loss. EWU was tied at halftime with South Carolina State in their second game and ended up losing by 20.
The Eagles then beat Denver 77-73 but were ahead by 18 midway through second half before letting their lead nearly slip away. They then go on the road to Washington and lose 104-91 but this was a very close game as there were 22 lead changes and 13 ties. EWU then destroys Northwest College, as they should have.
They lose to Iowa 70-54 after trailing by 6 at halftime. After leading in the 2nd half to Ill.-Chicago, EW goes on to lose 67-52. (Illinois-Chicago, at 7-2, is ranked eighth in the ESPN Mid-Major poll and are picked to win the Horizon League title)
After Snow, who is averaging 17 ppg and 4.3 rpg, EWU has four other players averaging at least 7 points per game. They don't seem to have any big rebounders as no one averages more than 4.4 per game (forward Marc Axton).
Just like fellow Big Sky member Northern Arizona, EWU is another team which loves to hoist up the three-ball. They currently have four starters averaging nearly 28 three-point attempts on the season. The team is hitting only 35% but this will be where the Titans need to stop EWU. Zone may not be an option with this team and Derick Andrew will have a big role in stopping Snow.
Down low, the Titans should have an advantage, as Pape, Babacar and Pruitt have excellent match-ups against the Eagles front line.
TitanCentral.com Spin: Make no mistake about it, we need Pape Sow in a big way, not just for this game but all year long. He is the key to our season. We expect a lot from him, being a certain NBA second round pick according to the NBA pundits, including ESPN.com's highly regarded NBA writer Marc Stein.
I am certain Pape will have a very good career in the NBA but Cal State Fullerton deserves to reap some of these benefits right now and there is no better game than this one on Saturday night.
Of course EWU will pack it in, and we can not force the ball into Pape like we have done earlier this year, so this is also a very important game for the likes of Anthony Bolton, Derick Andrew, David Warsaw and Bobby Brown. They need to show opponents we are not a one-dimensional team.
Bolton is coming off an excellent game versus SC and needs to show his senior leadership. DA needs to simply let the game come to him instead of trying to fight it. Warsaw looked pretty good as well and he is just beginning to show what he's all about.
Reserves Yaphett King and Brian Pruitt also need to keep doing what they have been doing all year. Solid basketball and crucial minutes off the bench. Hardy Asprilla could finally have a breakout type of game as EWU does not appear to have as big a height advantage that he has seen against the likes of SC and ASU.
While the Southern Cal game was a game the players really wanted to win, this game is much more important. This is a decent team they should beat at home and is very similar, talent-wise to Big West teams. They are coming off a tough loss, one where players, coaches and fans felt they should have won, so its gut-check time. Play well Saturday night and things will look very bright during the Holiday season.
Game 7: Eastern Washington
Friday, November 21, 2003 @ Titan Gym
|Cal State Fullerton (2-4, 0-0)||303||274||202|
|Eastern Washington (2-5, 0-0)||196||342||234|
|The Line: Titans by 10|
Here are the projected starting lineups:
|Pos||Cal State Fullerton||Eastern Washington|
|PG||Bobby Brown||6-1, 170||Brendon Merritt||6-4, 190|
|SG||Derick Andrew||6-2, 180||Josh Barnard||6-5, 205|
|SF||Anthony Bolton||6-7, 190||Alvin Snow||6-2, 215|
|PF||Hardy Asprilla||6-5, 225||Marc Axton||6-7, 225|
|C||Pape Sow||6-10, 250||Paul Butorac||6-9, 205|
First off the Bench
|Zakee Smith||6-0, 175||Matt Nelson||6-8, 220|
|Yaphett King||6-4, 235||Danny Pariseau||5-11, 155|
|Babacar Camara||6-10, 250||Jeremy McCulloch||6-11, 245|
|David Warsaw||6-4, 200||Khary Nicholas||6-7, 210|
|Brian Pruitt||6-6, 225|
|Cal State Fullerton||Eastern Washington|
· EW Unofficial Boards
· Big Sky Boards
· Release (.pdf)
|Newspapers & Links
· LA Times
· OC Register
Cal State Fullerton Release
THE QUICK SCENARIO: The Titans (2-4) play their next five games at home -- the final three non-conference games and the first two Big West Conference contests -- beginning with an inaugural meeting with Eastern Washington. After losing their first three games, the Titans have bounced back with two victories and an overtime loss at USC by shooting a combined .559 from the floor including .448 from 3-point range.
ABOUT THE EAGLES: Eastern Washington will bring a 2-5 record into Titan Gym after losing to Iowa (70-54) and Illinois-Chicago (67-52) at the Gazette Hawkeye Classic in Iowa City, Iowa, over the weekend. Two-time All-Big Sky Conference guard Alvin Snow made the all-tournament team after scoring more than one-third of his team's points (37 of 106). Snow leads the team in scoring (17.6 ppg) and steals (1.0 ) and is the No. 2 rebounder at 4.3 rpg. He is the 13th player in school history to go over the 1,000-point barrier and currently is at 1,077. He needs 14 more to move into the No. 10 spot on the school's all-time list.