Titans, Gauchos Try to Get First Big West Win

Jan. 3, 2006

Fullerton, Calif. -

Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader

UPCOMING: Wed., Jan. 4 - vs. UC Santa Barbara, Titan Gym, 2:05 p.m. Sat., Jan. 7 - at Cal State Northridge, The Matadome, 4:05 p.m. Mon., Jan. 9 - at Pacific, Spanos Center in Stockton, 8:05 p.m. (CSTV)

IN A NUTSHELL: Cal State Fullerton (6-4, 0-1) and UC Santa Barbara (5-6, 0-1) try to bounce back from stunning conference-opening losses when they tangle Wednesday afternoon in Titan Gym in a game moved to 2:05 p.m. to avoid conflicting with the Rose Bowl game. On Monday night, the Titans lost at home to Cal Poly, which came in with a 2-8 record and both wins over non-Div. I competition, both at home. UCSB became the first victim of UC Riverside, losing to the previously 0-10 Highlanders in Riverside.

"RADIO": All Titan games can be heard live on the internet on computers with sound cards. Listeners may access the CSF Athletics home page at www.fullertontitans.com and follow the links. Justin Alderson, who began a schedule of nine road games on real radio -- KSPA (1510 AM) -- at San Jose State on Dec. 21, will do the announcing. The seven road conference games plus the game at UC Davis also will be carried live on radio.

ABOUT THE GAUCHOS: UC Santa Barbara is 5-0 at home with wins over USF, Pepperdine and, most recently, Portland, but 0-6 on the road including losses at North Carolina, Arizona State, Fresno State and at UCR. Guard Cecil Brown (13.9 ppg) and forward Chris Devine (11.4 ppg) are the top scorers.

PROBABLE STARTERS: No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg rpg Quick Notes

F 1 Jamaal Brown* 6-7 Sr. 18.2 9.4
After 7 games had .551 FG percentage but is 14-for-48 (.292) last 3 games
C 5 Justin Burns* 6-6 Jr. 7.3 5.9
Has been in double figures in scoring three times this season
G 3 Bobby Brown** 6-1 Jr. 20.4 3.3
Back-to-back BWC player of week honors; 108 points in last 4 games
G 23 Vershan Cottrell* 6-2 Sr. 5.6 3.3
Had 12 points in first half vs. Cal Poly but scoreless in second half
G 14 Jermaine Harper* 6-3 Sr. 4.7 2.0
Hit 3-of-last-5 3-point attempts at Florida International to snap 0-for-16 slump

OFF THE BENCH:
G 0 Frank Robinson 6-4 So. 10.3 4.9
Credited with 9 steals in 48 minutes of action in Miami; made all-tourney team
G 22 John Clemmons* 6-0 Sr. 2.1 1.2
Sparked second-half rally at San Jose State with 5 assists, defensive play
G 33 Jerard Moret 6-4 Fr. 4.3 3.8
Has played only 12 minutes in last 4 games; was averaging 21 minutes
C 15 Curtis Battles 6-10 Jr. 2.8 1.5
Slimmed down JC transfer scored 7 points in final 2 minutes at Kansas State
C 34 Gary Nunez 6-7 Jr. 4.3 2.0
Had 8 points, 4 rebounds in 11 minutes at FIU
C 52 Manny Montano 6-10 Jr. 1.4 0.8
Palomar College transfer known for shot blocking abilities
*letters earned

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 38-32 in his third year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .543, Burton has the second best winning percentage of any Titans' head coach, trailing only Bobby Dye (109-78, .583). At 19-18, Burton has the only winning record in conference play among all Titan head coaches. He is 3-2 vs. UCSB and Coach Bob Williams.

SERIES HISTORY: UCSB leads the all-time series, 31-28, and is 14-15 in Titan Gym, where it had a 7-game winning streak broken last year by a 68-59 Fullerton victory. The last four Gaucho wins came by a total of 11 points. Fullerton swept UCSB in three meetings last year as the teams met for the first time in the Big West Tourney.

THE HYPE: The Titans were the pre-season favorites -- for the first time in anyone's recollection -- to win the conference championship. They've won only one in the past and that was a co-title in 1975-76 when there were only six teams in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association. The Titans also bear the burden of being picked as one of the 65 teams in the NCAA Tournament by Sports Illustrated and ESPN.com and were the conference champion favorite by Athlon, Lindy's and The Sporting News publications. They were picked for second by Street & Smith behind Pacific.

THE BROWNS DELIVER: Junior Bobby (20.4 pg) and senior Jamaal (18.2 ppg) have scored 49.5 percent of the Titans' points this year and are Nos. 2 & 3 in the Big West Conference in scoring behind Cal State Northridge's Mike Efevberha (20.5 ppg). Jamaal is leading the Big West in rebounding at 9.2 per game and Bobby leads the team in assists (4.3 per game) to rank second in the Big West. Bobby also leads the conference in steals (1.70 per game) and is second in 3-point field goals (3.40 per game). Both made the all-tournament team at San Francisco and Bobby also made the FIU all-tourney team.

BOBBY FOCAL POINT: Junior point guard Bobby Brown is drawing more attention from opposing defenses as well as NBA scouts while trying to exert more leadership as the team's only two-year letterman. He has scored 102 points in the last four games. His shooting percentage and assist averages are up slightly over his career marks but so is his turnover rate. His 3-point shooting is up (.436 vs. previous career mark of .372) after making 24 of 48 (.500) in the last five games and he needs only three more treys to break Chris Dade's school career record of 191. At USF he became the 18th Titan to join the 1,000-point club and his current total of 1,111 points ranks him No. 14. Bobby has 289 career assists. He needs 50 more to crack the all-time Titan top five. He is wearing an arm sleeve this year (see Allen Iverson) and may need the support after putting up 28 shots vs. Texas-San Antonio. That ties for the seventh most shot attempts in a game by a Titan since the 1980-81 season. The record is 34 by Leon Wood vs. Fresno State on Feb. 9, 1984. Ralphy Holmes took 29 shots vs. Pepperdine on Dec. 4, 2002. Brown's 15 3-point attempts vs. Cal Poly are his career high and second most by a Titan to 18 by Mark Hill at UNLV on Jan. 3, 1990.

JAMAAL WAS ON A ROLL: Senior Jamaal Brown became only the third Titan (Leon Wood and Cedric Ceballos) to post back-to-back 30-point games with 30 vs. Chicago State and 36 at USF. His 36-point one-game effort is topped only by Richard Morton's Div. I school record of 38 (vs. UC Irvine, 1/7/88). Ironically, Morton, currently the head coach of the San Francisco Pilots ABA team, was in attendance that night. Brown has had only two double-doubles (30 points, 13 rebounds vs. Chicago State and 13 points, 12 rebounds at Florida International) but would be AVERAGING a double-double with 6 more rebounds. He had eight double-doubles last year. But in the last three games he has made only 14 of 48 shots (.292) after making 55.1 percent of his shots in the first seven games.

BURNS BECOME KEY: Junior Justin Burns has become probably the key Titan performer with the Browns consistently starring. Burns is easily the most improved Titan and they need him to stay out of foul trouble due to the lack of consistent play by the big men off the bench. His absence due to foul trouble was critical in the loss at USF and he got two early whistles vs. Cal Poly. By comparison, he TOTALED only 14 points and 23 rebounds in the final 10 games of last season vs. 73 points and 59 rebounds in the first 10 games of this season with substantially more playing time but around an abdominal muscle strain and a lacerated thumb.

SUPER SUB: Sophomore Frank Robinson has been the key Titan off the bench. He is the No. 3 scorer at 10.3 points per game, the No. 3 rebounder at 4.9 per game and is shooting 41 percent from 3-point range and a team-best 80 percent from the foul line. In the Florida International Tournament, he had 9 steals in the two games and made the all-tournament team. In addition to making the transition from idle redshirt year to a new system, he also is learning the power forward position on the run.

Jermaine Harper: The senior guard continues to struggle to regain his 2004-05 form after a Fall setback caused by a cyst behind one of his knees. Outside of a 3-for-5 burst behind the 3-point line in the latter stages of the game at Florida International, he has lost his shooting touch. Last year he made 70 of 191 treys (.366 percentage) and tied for fifth most in a season by a Titan. This season he is shooting .205 and is on pace to make less than 30. In the last five games he is 3 for 22.

Vershan Cottrell: The other senior guard continues to play above his 2004-05 level. He was the Titans' leading scorer (15 points) at Kansas State and he made all 5 shots in the first half vs. Cal Poly on his way to 12 points. He did not get a shot in the second half. Last year he averaged roughly 2 points and 1 rebound but this year is at 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds.

CONFERENCE OPENERS: Fullerton's loss in its conference opener Monday night was its tenth in the last 11 years with three of the defeats coming at the hands of Cal Poly. The only win was last year's overtime victory at Cal State Northridge.

FRIENDLY CONFINES: Under Coach Bob Burton, the Titans are 20-9 (.690) in Titan Gym, posting the first consecutive winning seasons at home since 1997-98 and 1998-99. His 2003-04 team was 8-6 and last year's team was 10-2, losing only to UC Irvine and Pacific. Going back to last season, Fullerton has won 17 of its last 21 home games.

NEW FRILLS: Not coincidental to the recent home success, a squad of cheerleaders has been added to the home court ambience. Along with a flag carrier and a new student band, they join the entertainment package headed by the five-time national champion dance team, which had to settle for a second-place ranking last season.

WESTCHESTER CONNECTION: Assistant Coach Marlon Morton joins the Titans' staff this year after a long career assisting at Westchester High School, one of California's most successful prep basketball programs in recent times. He sees a lot of familiar faces since Bobby Brown, John Clemmons, Jerard Moret and redshirts Scott Cutley, Jarrel Lake all played for the Comets.

LOOKING BACK: Last year's Titans team accomplished a remarkable number of positive statistics and records, most notably tying for the second most victories in a Div. I season (21 vs. 23 in 1977-78 and 21 in 1982-83) and posting only the third and fourth post-season (NIT) wins in school history to complete the first winning season since 1992-93.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Titans have not had consecutive winning seasons since 1983-84 and 1984-85, both 17-13 marks.

FALL SIGNEES: After a major emphasis on size in last year's recruiting class, the Titans have looked more to the wings in recruiting for 2006-07. Signing in the early November signing period were Kent State transfer guard Marcus Crenshaw (5-10), Boise State transfer forward Andrew Green (6-6) and West Valley College forward Marcus Morgan (6-5). The Titans also have a pair of four-year college transfers redshirting: forward Scott Cutley (6-5) from Kent State and guard Ray Reed (6-1) from Georgetown.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Seven players on last year's team are no longer on the roster. Ralphy Holmes graduated in August and is playing in the CBA with the Yakama team. Yaphett King is attempting to play professionally in a foreign country. Hardy Asprilla remains in school and is assisting the players with academics while providing an experienced and inspirational voice from near the bench. Derek Quinet had two years of eligibility remaining but decided to focus on his classroom work this year. Danny Lambert quit the team in October and redshirt Adam Tancredi quit on Dec. 11. Drew Awad passed away on Dec. 26 after battling for more than a year against a reoccurrence of leukemia.

GO EAST YOUNG MEN: Cal State Fullerton last week played on the East Coast for the third time in 14 months after making only one appearance there in the previous 30 years (at Providence, Connecticut and Richmond in 1974-75). The Titans opened last season at a tournament at Central Connecticut State in New Britain and ended it with a post-season NIT game at Georgetown in the nation's capital.