Titans' Turner Comes Back and More Than Lives Up to His Billing

Times Staff Writer

What do we have here, TV Guide?

Oh, the Cal State Fullerton basketball media guide.

Lovely campus, dig the elephant.

Hey! Nice photo. Who is that guy? Hmmm, No. 40, the guy with his knee in UC Irvine's Scott Brooks' face, ready to do some serious structural damage to one iron hoop. That's Henry Turner.

Let's see, Morton, Ree, Smith, ah, here we go, Henry Turner.

Six-foot seven-inches, junior forward out of Oakland.

Says here Henry is "on the verge of establishing himself as a top PCAA performer."

Verge? What does a guy have to do? Turner had 26 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots to lead Fullerton to a 92-81 victory over UC Irvine in the first round of the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. Tournament Thursday in the Forum.

The 26 points were Turner's career-high, improving by a point the 25-point performance he had against Irvine on Jan. 15.

Not too shabby for a guy who, just a couple of weeks ago, thought his season was over.

It was during Fullerton's Feb. 14 game against Irvine that Titan 6-8, 223-pound center Vincent Blow became Vince the human steamroller.

"Vincent fell and rolled over on my ankle," Turner said. "When you see someone that big laying on your ankle, you're scared. I thought it was all over for me."

Turner left that game with 10 points and five minutes left in regulation. Irvine went on to win, 78-69, in overtime.

The Titans played without Turner those last few minutes, and the entire game without 6-7 Derek Jones, who was out with a shoulder injury.

Considering Turner's 26 and Jones' 22 Thursday it seems fair to say that they would have made a difference in the second Irvine game.

"I guess you could say that with those two, things turn out a lot different," said George McQuarn, Fullerton coach. "What they have together, about 50? Yeah, that would make a difference."

Despite his fears, and Blow's body, Turner and his right ankle were back by Feb. 19. He scored 16 points in Fullerton's 94-71 victory over Utah State.

Turner made 7 of 8 field-goal attempts in the first half and had 16 points with 8:20 left in the first half.

"My shot was falling today," Turner said. "It runs in cycles. Richard (Morton) wasn't hitting, but my shots were. I think they thought I was just going to drive so they could play off of me. But my shot was going down."

Of Turner's seven field goals, four were from 15 feet or farther, including two three-point shots.

If the ankle injury hasn't affected his shooting, it has left behind a little reminder--a metal support cast that Turner wears on his right ankle.

Think something like that would ground a guy who, according to the guide, is "an outstanding leaper who plays well above the rim"?

Well, judging from the three dunks, one of which counted, nope.

Turner's first dunk, the one that counted, came off a pass from guard Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton found Turner underneath the basket, Turner caught the ball flat-footed, then performed a double-clutch reverse dunk that gave Fullerton the lead for good at 21-19 with 10:14 left in the first half.

The two other dunks were nullified by fouls.

"I love that kind of stuff," he said. "The cast hasn't hurt my jumping at all. It's great. Dunks and stuff like that really give everyone a lift."

Not that Turner needs one, because the guide says he "displays great intensity and enthusiasm."

You might say that. Turner hugged enough people on the court to open a Leo Buscaglia franchise. He hugged people after shots. He hugged after blocks. He high-fived most of the the Fullerton bench after a dunk. And the dunk didn't even count.

"I think everyone was up for this game," Turner said. "This is do or die. There's no other way to be."

So that's why he sat on the edge of his seat whenever McQuarn pulled him out. Looked like a kid watching "Friday the 13th, Part 246." Edge of his seat, lightly nibbling a towel, glancing over to McQuarn every two seconds with eyes that said: "Pleeeease put me back in."

"This is the time to be up," he said. "We've got our people healthy, things look good."

And so does Henry Turner, in print or in person.

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