Scouting Report: Long Beach State

Cal State Fullerton faces Long Beach State on Thursday at historic Titan Gym. Fullerton is off to its best start since the 1996-97 team opened up 7-4 and then went to 8-4. The Titans are leading the conference in scoring as a team at 77.3 points per game and have the leading individual in Bobby Brown at 19.0 ppg. Ralphy Holmes would be No. 2 at 16.7 ppg if he had played enough games to qualify.

Long Beach State 49ers (2-11, 0-4 Big West, 0-6 road)

Coach Larry Reynolds (13-54) is in his third and possibly final season, as he has failed to turn the 49ers around. Their only wins are over Sacramento State and Indiana State, who are a combined 6-21 against Division I opponents. Fullerton has won two in a row vs. LBSU at historic Titan Gym. The last two years, these games have been very close, with an average margin of victory of 4.5 and no double-digit wins.

Injuries have done damage to the 49ers. Anthony Coleman and Louis Darby, their 2nd and 4th-leading scorers respectively, are both injured and out. Coleman is done for the year and Darby should be back around the end of February.

The 49ers entered this week as the 2nd-worst scoring and shooting team in the Big West. They allow their opponents to hit .373 of their three-point attempts, worst in the Big West, and they only hit .293 of their own. The 49ers have the worst turnover margin (-3.62) and most turnovers (18.9 p/g) in the Big West Conference. They make the fewest three-point shots of any team in the conference, averaging just 5.00 made per game. They don't lead the conference in any team category.

The 49ers have attempted only 213 free throws, while their opponents have had 320 chances.

Defensively, the 49ers aren't that good at stopping the other team's stars. They got lit up for a combined 47 points by Davin White and Ian Boylan.

Current Titans have had mixed results against the 49ers. Yaphett King owned the 49ers last year, scoring 43 points in the two games. Bobby Brown has struggled, though, shooting 5-for-26 against the 49ers in 2003-04. Hardy Asprilla grabbed 13 rebounds combined in the two games last season, and Ralphy averaged 12.5 points against the 49ers in 2002-03. Holmes is the only current Titan player that has the experience of losing to Long Beach State.

The lineup is difficult to forecast. Thirteen 49ers have seen action on the court this year… ELEVEN of them have started at least two games, and none have started all twelve. After four Big West games, nine different players have had a conference start, and only one player has started all four.

#3 Shawn Hawkins has been successful everywhere he's played. In high school, he led his team to the Pennsylvania State Championship game. In junior college, he led his team to the regional championship game. Unfortunately, the 6'6" junior now plays at Long Beach State. He has been their top player so far, entering the Big West 9th in the conference in scoring, leading the 49ers with 13.2 points p/g. He leads the team in minutes played with 29.5 p/g.

Hawkins is shooting .428 from the field and .333 from three-point range. He averages 1.54 three-pointers per game. He is also second on the active roster in steals and rebounds, averaging 1.0 and 4.8, respectively. 46.7% of his rebounds have been on the offensive end… BOX OUT. He's only making .629 of his free throws.

#1 Jibril Hodges has been thrust into the role of point guard for the 49ers this season, despite being a natural shooting guard. The 6'2" junior is third in scoring for the 49ers with 10.3 points p/g. Hodges leads the Big West in free throw shooting, with a .935 percentage (29-31). He leads the 49ers in three-pointers (1.77 p/g, .338 pct.), assists (2.85 p/g), steals (1.23 p/g), and 2nd on the in turnovers (2.77 p/g). Hodges and teammate Shawn Hawkins are the only 49ers averaging more than one made three-pointer per game. He has started 9 total games and all four Big West games.

Last year against Fullerton, Hodges started both games and tallied 29 points, 10 assists, and 2 turnovers, shooting 7-for-14 on threes. In the game at the Pyramid, he was part of a 49er rotation that limited Titan guards to just 19 points (but the frontcourt had 55).

#10 Cody Pearson is the 49er who has started the most games, opening at either shooting guard or small forward in 11 games thus far. The 6'4" swingman is one of only two 49er seniors that have spent their entire collegiate career in the program. File under "Admirable but Futile." Pearson's 5.5 points p/g puts him 4th on the team. He has made 49% of his field-goal attempts but is 0-for-3 from beyond the arc. He also brings averages of 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 turnovers per game into Thursday night.

Coming off the bench in both games against Northridge last year, Pearson had 22 minutes of action but failed to score. The best overall game of his career was the 2003 game in the Pyramid against Fullerton where he had 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists.

#33 Travon Free has the first three Big West games at power forward. The 6'7" sophomore averages just 3.5 points per game, but grabs 4.2 boards and is second on the team with 10 blocks. Free solidified his starting spot by grabbing an amazing 19 rebounds in the loss at Santa Barbara, and his conference rebound average is 6.8.

Last year, Free appeared in 23 of the 49ers' 26 games. Of the three he missed, two of them were the games against Northridge, and the third was at Titan Gym. He played three minutes against Fullerton in the Pyramid, but contributed nothing but an offensive rebound, and missed the put-back.

#0 Onye Ibekwe is listed as a probable starter in Long Beach's press release, but did not start against Pacific. The 6'8" sophomore transfer from Oklahoma State has appeared in seven games since becoming eligible at the end of the first semester, starting three of them. For the year, he averages 6.4 points p/g and is the 49ers' top rebounder, pulling down 6.7 per game in 21.3 minutes of playing time per contest. Shooting the ball is a bit of a rough patch for Ibekwe; from the field he's .326, and at the free throw line he's .538. In conference, his averages have ballooned to 9.2 points and 8.5 rebounds; he's dangerous inside.

#32 Sam Byrd started at center against Pacific, his 4th start of the year. The 6'10" junior JC transfer has appeared in all 13 games, playing 14.2 minutes per contest and scoring 3.2 points p/g. Byrd leads the team in blocked shots with 13, placing third in the Big West conference in that stat. He also pulls down 3.2 rebounds p/g. Thomas Shewmake will have a 40-pound advantage on Byrd inside; even Justin Burns should be able to muscle him aside.

#20 Kevin Houston started the year as the 49ers' point guard, but was moved to the bench after four disappointing games. The 5'10" sophomore has the team lead with 3.2 turnovers p/g while producing only 2.46 assists p/g. He isn't shooting well, either, making .304 from the field and 3-for-26 on three-pointers all year. He still plays almost 22 minutes per game and has 11 total steals. Bobby Brown wanted to play for Long Beach, but Reynolds offered Houston a scholarship instead.

Houston had one of his better games of 2003-04 in Titan Gym, where he notched 10 points, 4 assists, 4 boards, and 3 steals. He did have 6 turnovers, though. At the ‘mid, he scored 7 points, had 7 assists and only 1 turnover.

#52 Chris Jenkins started at center in the Big West opener against UCSB, and against vs. Northridge. The 6'8" senior has appeared in 11 games, starting four. He averages 5.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in 17.7 minutes per game. He has been a career role player for the 49ers. You could argue that Jenkins is the 49ers' most accurate three-point shooter this year, as he's made 11 of his 23 attempts (.478), but that's just one make per game. His scoring average has increased to 7.5 in conference play.

Jenkins played a total of 41 minutes against the Titans last year. He only scored 5 points, all from the free throw line. He was 0-for-7 from the field. His eight point effort in the 49er win on Feb. 6, 2003 is the best he's done against the Titans.

#5 Keion Kindred is the final active 49er player to have played most of their games this year. The 6'5" junior JC transfer was a first-team all-State and won three State Championships in high school. At very best, he creates matchup problems for opposing point guards. In 14.2 minutes of playing time per game, Kindred averages 0.6 points, 1.6 assists, and 1.5 rebounds. He also has 9 steals and 4 blocks. He has yet to score in Big West play.

#4 Kevin Crockett is a walk-on who has appeared in just five games. The 6'1" freshman was All-CIF at Long Beach Wilson and has scored 4 points in his limited playing time of 17 total minutes.

#30 Tony Bryant has played in seven games. The 6'5" junior JC transfer was a high school teammate of Keion Kindred and Travon Free at basketball factory Compton Dominguez. In his 30 minutes of fame, he has 3 points, 3 turnovers, and 3 rebounds.