LOS ANGELES -- Coaches from as far north as San Luis Obispo on south to San Diego gathered Wednesday afternoon in Downtown Los Angeles to offer their insights on the upcoming season and discuss their team's prospects at the annual Wooden Award College Basketball Tip-Off Luncheon hosted by the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
A luncheon crowd of more than 200 filled the banquet room at the LAAC to hear from the assembled coaches, including Cal State Fullerton's first-year head coach Dedrique Taylor, one of six rookie coaches in attendance at the event. He shared his thoughts on the process of building the Titans' program and how things have progressed thus far.
"We've really focused on changing and impacting our culture," Taylor said during his opening remarks. "We're working on building our brand and we've got a bunch of hard-nosed guys that are excited about where we're going. Ninety percent of my job is not to coach, but the players are doing a good job trying to build their own identity. We've got a mix of transfers, fifth-year guys and some freshmen that we're excited about."
Among those in attendance were members of the Wooden family and many of the coaches took time to reflect on their first meeting and experiences with legendary head coach John Wooden.
"I was 12 or 13 when I attended one of Coach Wooden's camps in Oxnard," Taylor said. "There were two things I remembered about that experience. One, I got to meet Coach Wooden. The other, was I earned one of his plaques – the Pyramid of Success."
Cal State Fullerton returns two starters and six players overall for the 2013-14 season while welcoming eight new faces to the roster. Thanks to new NCAA legislation moving up the start date for a team's first official practice by more than two weeks, the Titans will come together for the first time as a complete squad on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 28).
Fullerton opens the season with an exhibition at home on Nov. 2 at against Redlands at 6 p.m., before starting the regular season with four of its first five on the road, beginning on Nov. 9 at Montana State. The Titans will host Santa Clara in their home opener on Nov. 16 at 3 p.m.