2001-02 Season Preview
From one extreme to the other.
For his first season as head coach at Cal State Fullerton, Donny Daniels inherited a veteran front line but had no Div. I experience in the backcourt. For the 2001-02 season, the second-year coach will welcome back five lettermen from the perimeter but will recognize only two interior players.
Filling the gaps up front will be several "walk-on" newcomers whose presence on the roster wasn't confirmed until they attended their first classes on Aug. 20, the lingering result of NCAA probation which dates to 1993 but continues to impact the current squad.
"Probation does exactly what it's supposed to do to a program and it's done that to Fullerton," Daniels said of restrictions which finally expire on Nov. 30. Compounding the situation this summer is the 5/8 rule which makes it difficult to bring a thin roster up to full strength.
Daniels does have a solid corps of veterans who got more playing time than expected in 2000-01 due to a variety of problems that befell the likes of Ike Harmon, Matt Caldwell and Brandon Campbell, three front line veterans.
Campbell, a two-year letterman and a redshirt junior, is back from a knee injury suffered in the 2000-01 season opener that cost him his basketball season but didn't prevent him from winning the conference high jump and long jump championships in track season and earn Male Athlete of the Year honors. Campbell averaged 10.7 points and 4.7 rebounds as a sophomore in 1999-2000.
Starting guards Kevin Richardson, David Castleton and Ryan Dillon return from last season when they each averaged more than 30 minutes per game. Richardson played both the point and shooting guard positions as well as small forward at times and averaged 11.6 points. Castleton, an Orange Coast College product who missed the first seven games of the season due to a shortage of transferable units, averaged 7.8 points and 3.4 assists while playing 32 minutes per game. Both will be seniors.
Dillon started 23 times as a freshman and played more minutes than anyone on the roster. He scored 8.7 points per game, almost exclusively from beyond the 3-point line as he made 67 of 182 attempts (.368) including a school record 10 of 15 in one game. Another sophomore-to-be, Chris Smith, averaged more than 16 minutes as a reserve and contributed 3.7 points and 1.7 assists per contest as well as full-court quickness.
Key newcomers to the backcourt are sophomore Derick Andrew from Rancho Cucamonga High School and Chris Alexander from Price High in Los Angeles. Andrew sat out last season under the auspices of Prop. 48 but is expected to challenge for the starting point guard role, especially with Castleton idled in the first semester again because of unit deficiencies. Alexander is the most highly regarded scholarship player, a jump shooter who earned all-city honors at Price High in Los Angeles and was a member of a state championship team as a junior.
Another strong guard candidate with an edge in the system is Denver Lopez, a transfer from Cal State Dominguez Hills who practiced last season during his redshirt year. He averaged 5 points for the Div. II Toros in 1999-2000. Another redshirt is Andrew Maxie, who made the squad last Fall after a student body tryout session. Walk-ons Daniel Ryan from Chaffey College and Montelle Williams from Dominguez High School in Compton also are in the picture.
There is little depth up front. Three-year letterman Josh Fischer (6-foot-9) and sophomore Babacar Camara (6-foot-11) are the only healthy veteran big men. Fischer averaged 6 points and 3.4 rebounds as a part-time starter as a junior. Camara, a transfer from Cheickantadiop University in Dakar, Senegal, averaged 7.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in his first year in the United States. He has added about 20 pounds and is up to about 245. Reserve forward Daniel Kohn (6-foot-8) suffered a severe knee injury in the final weeks of his junior season (3.9 points and 4.0 rebounds) and his playing career is over after major reconstruction surgery.
Helping to fill the void are two walk-on newcomers with limited experience. The most highly regarded of the pair is 6-10 power forward Pape Sow from Chaffey JC, who is expected to have a major impact. He is also from Dakar, Senegal, and is a cousin of Camara. He averaged 15 points and 9 rebounds for Chaffey last season, his first in organized ball, and is expected to compete for a starting job.
The sleeper on the roster is a slender 6-foot-9 forward from the Chicago area named Derrick Franklin. He has been idled for two years since playing at Hillcrest High School but possesses excellent physical tools.
Also on the roster are 6-foot-8 Wagner Moreno, a transfer from nearby Hope University (NAIA) originally from Brazil, and 6-foot-6 Amir Bar-Netzer, a transfer from Santa Monica City College, who is not expected to be eligible this season.
Look for CSF in 2001-02 to play "small" and force the tempo with a defense extended beyond half court to take advantage of the quickness and compensate for the lack of size inside.