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Vanguard aims to close the deal

BASKETBALL: VU men lost 12 games in which they led after halftime last year, and want to correct that.

November 02, 2007|By Barry Faulkner

“We want to try to get into the middle of the league,” Litzenberger said. “That’s going to be a real challenge for our guys, but they want to get there. We want to move up as far as we can, but to do so, we have to be real consistent on both ends of the floor.”

The Lions have some proven commodities at the offensive end, most notably sophomore Dennis Heenan, junior Greg Gusiff and sophomore Greg Scott.

Heenan, the Newport-Mesa Player of the Year at Newport Harbor High in 2005-06, averaged 12 points, 4.1 rebounds, and led the team with 55 three-pointers last season. The 6-foot-7 guard started every game last season, but Litzenberger said he may come off the bench at times this season, an advent of the coach’s mix-and-match lineup.

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Gusiff, a 6-1 senior who averaged 9.9 points and made 54 three-pointers as a junior, is scheduled to start in the backcourt along with Scott, a 5-10 point guard. Gusiff shot 41.1% from three-point range in conference (46 of 112).

Scott, who started just four games last season, averaged 6.2 points and 4.2 assists and has plenty of potential to fortify those stats this season, according to his coach.

“He has a chance to be a really, really good point guard in this league, because he is capable of penetrating, he can shoot the ball and he is a really good passer,” Litzenberger said.

Johnson and 6-7 senior Matt Davis, who started all but one game last season after transferring from Orange Coast College, provide experience, size and strength up front. Davis averaged 6.8 points and a team-best 5.6 rebounds last season.

“Davis is about 225 pounds right now [up 20 from last season], so he is much stronger,” Litzenberger said. “And he has worked on his shot, so he is capable of scoring inside and outside.”

Litzenberger, said Johnson will be a huge help on the boards.

“He’s a great offensive rebounder,” Litzenberger said. “He’s hard to block out, because he’s athletic and he really jumps well.”

Litzenberger believes Johnson will help with the inside scoring punch, an area he hopes will also be bolstered by Vaitiekus, a native of Lithuania, who played at two community colleges, before landing at Utah State. He redshirted in 2005-06, then averaged 2.1 points and 1.5 rebounds, averaging nearly eight minutes in 18 appearances for the Aggies. He did shoot 70.4% from the field (19 of 27), but had 11 turnovers.

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