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Cal State Fullerton Notebook : Jones Keeps Coming Back on Long Road to Recovery

When you watch Derek Jones play basketball, minutes and halves and sometimes an entire game will pass without it crossing your mind that he was not supposed to be able to do this.

Jones’ comeback from the shotgun blast to his left side that critically wounded him in August of 1987 has been so successful that sometimes, for a while, you can forget what he has accomplished.

And on occasion, you could almost forget what he has come back against.

Jones has played far better this season than Fullerton coaches could have hoped. When George McQuarn sought an additional year of NCAA eligibility for Jones so that he could return, he did it more for Jones’ emotional benefit than out of hope that Jones could help the Titans.

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But Jones started the season strong, scoring in double figures in each of the first 7 games. Against the University of San Diego, he hit a leaning, one-handed shot to win the game as time ran out. Against Northeastern, he had a 22-point, 12-rebound game.

In recent games, he has faltered occasionally, showing signs of what may be fatigue and wear.

“We always felt, with the layoff Derek’s had, how much endurance could he really have, after all he’s been through physically,” Coach John Sneed said.

Against New Orleans, he struggled some, finishing with 8 points while playing all but 5 minutes of a double-overtime game. Two games later, against New Mexico State, he scored only 4 points in 33 minutes, playing less because of foul trouble. Against Cal State Long Beach Thursday, he scored 11 points, 7 of which came at the free-throw line. He made only 2 of 14 from the field.

“I don’t think it had to do with the incident, I think it has to do with the time off,” Jones said. “Your body’s not used to the constant pounding, the wear and tear. I look at it to be more mental than physical right now. I’m in in a kind of a slump. I’ve faced a little adversity, and my shots are not falling. I’m having to cope with it.”

Said Sneed: “We expected fatigue would be a factor at some point during the season.”

With the Titans’ lack of depth, Sneed has little option of resting Jones, and Jones keeps playing, sometimes with less success than others, but always with the admirable and charming spirit that has marked his return.

Better late than never: Gena Miller, Cal State Fullerton’s 6-foot 3-inch sophomore center, apparently tied a school record with a 37-point performance in the Titans’ victory over UC Irvine Saturday.

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But in reviewing the box score after the game, Fullerton officials found an error, one that had overlooked a point.

Instead of 37 points, Miller had scored 38. And instead of tying the record held by Nacny Dunkle and Robin Holmes, she had broken it.

Miller hit 12 of 18 from the field, and 14 of 19 from the line. She also had 12 rebounds and 4 blocks.

That performance, along with a 17-point, 9-rebound, 7-block game against UC Santa Barbara last Thursday, earned Miller Big West Conference player of the week honors.

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Titan football players A.J. Jenkins, James Howard, Jerry Leggett and Alex Stewart are expected to travel to Indianapolis in February for the National Football League combine, where they will be timed, drilled and examined by NFL scouts in preparation for the draft.

Stewart, in particular, already has boosted his stock with his performance in the Blue-Gray all-star game on Christmas Day.


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