Cal State Fullerton comes into their weekend contest with the Vikings with an entirely different roster from the one that was able to win convincingly at home last year, returning two letter winners and just one starter. However, that starter is former Washington State Cougar Josh Akognon, who put up 41 points on Sunday against Hawaii. They expected a lot from 7-2 freshman Adam Thomas coming into the year, but through two games, it appears heâ€™s not yet ready to produce. The Vikings should be coming into Sundayâ€™s match-up sky high, but there are questions about whether Jeremiah Dominguez will be able to play after sustaining a finger injury during Tuesday nightâ€™s win over the University of Portland. If heâ€™s out, the Vikings game plan changes drastically, and will have them searching for a source of scoring.
PSU: Jamie Jones CSF: Papa Guisse
Guisse, the transfer from Salt Lake Community College, is going to be relied upon to get some rebounds and block shots for the Titans, who are a very small team. That said, he is very limited offensively, and has produced very little through two games this season. Jones, on the other hand, has been very productive in his two games for the Viks. He is averaging 13.5 points and 8 rebounds per contest. He has provided an interior scoring touch that the Vikings have not had in a few years. It has created some room for Dominguez to work on the outside, and he has responded by shooting 60% from 3 point range. Jones is also a breath of fresh air from the free throw line, hitting 83% in his first two games. Look for the Viks to try to get the ball to Jones inside and attempt to draw some fouls. Though it is nowhere near as bad as last season, the Titans are still very thin on the inside.
PSU: Kyle Coston CSF: Gerard Anderson
Anderson, who redshirted last season, has been able to pick up some of the slack left by graduation. Through two games he is averaging 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. He definitely has the potential to become explosive, as he showed by scoring 20 points in a half against Texas State. Coston has done exactly what has been expected from him so far, stretching the defense from the 4, and chipping in a little bit in every facet of the game. His much improved defense have given him the upper hand in his battle for minutes with Mara. As much as Kyle has improved, I think Anderson will give him fits with his inside game.
PSU: Phil Nelson CSF: Marcio Lassiter/Aaron Thompson
Depending on who the Titans decide to go with here, Nelson could have a huge height advantage. His production in this game may depend on how disciplined he is when he gets the ball in space. If he realizes that he can take advantage on the inside, he could be very productive. However, if he jacks up a bunch of 3 balls, or tries to use his speed to get by defenders on the dribble drive, he might find the road a little bit tougher. Lassiter is a shooter, but might have significant difficulty getting his shot off against the significantly larger Nelson. (Assuming Nelson decides to play defense at any point) The larger Thompson also has outside range, but can also provide the Titans with a useful wing man who can help out on the boards if Coston or Mara can draw Anderson out to the perimeter. If Dominguez is out, the Vikings will depend heavily on Nelson, along with Jones and Waters to pick up the slack on the offensive end. One positive note for Nelson is that this game should provide the type of pace that allows fast break opportunities in which he can better utilize his exploits.
PSU: Andre Murray/Dominic Waters CSF: Josh Akognon
Akognon is the one player on the Titans who could spoil an otherwise easy win. The guy can flat out fill it up. His all-around scoring ability (which includes a knack for getting to the foul line) is what makes him so dangerous. He will likely be matched-up against Andre Murray to start, but his size and speed may incite a quick change to Waters who seems more suited to this kind of pairing. Either way, the goal for the Viking defender will be to slow him down, because the Titans donâ€™t have another really dangerous weapon outside of Anderson. Murray has started out slow this season, but based on his in-season improvement last year, one wouldnâ€™t expect too much reaction from Ken Bone and his staff. Waters has done everything they have asked from him so far. If he can add slowing down Akognon to that list, some lineup tinkering may be occurring in the near future.
PSU: Jeremiah Dominguez CSF: Jacques Streeter
If Akognon is the one player for the Titans, Dominguez is the one player for the Vikings. Although the talent of some of the role players is obvious, none of them seem to have that instinct to turn on the juice when the team needs them like Dominguez. His step back 3 point shot has destroyed the chances of the two opponents on the Viking schedule so far, and it will likely continue to do so the rest of the season. However, none of this is relevant if his finger injury keeps him out of the game. Streeter is a very talented freshman, and has the ability to score and pass that will make him a star in the Big West in the coming years. If he goes up against Waters, the numbers are more likely to stay close.
Here, the Vikings have a very large advantage. The only real bench for the Titans is made up by freshman and former Benson Tech star Ameer Shamsud-Din, and whichever of the Thompson/Lassiter combo doesnâ€™t get the start at the 3. Though talented, they really canâ€™t compete with the Viking contingent of Waters, Mara, Thomas, Guede and Wright.
I donâ€™t see the Titans jumping out to a 17 point lead like they did in last yearâ€™s contest. If the Vikings can exploit some of the mismatches they have, they could be in very good shape. That said, the result of this game is likely going to come down to Dominguez playing, and the effectiveness of the PSU defense on Akognon. If they can hold him under 30, it seems unlikely that the Titans will be able to keep pace with the Viks on the offensive end.
PSU: 82 CSF: 74