Feb. 21, 2006
Santa Barbara, Calif. -
Thur., Feb. 23 -- at UC Santa Barbara, Thunderdome (6,000), 7:05 p.m. KVMD-TV
Sat., Feb. 25 -- at Cal Poly SLO, Mott Gym (3,032), 4 p.m.
Thur., Mar. 2 -- UC Davis, Titan Gym (4,000), 7:05 p.m.
Sun., Mar. 5 -- South Dakota State, Titan Gym (4,000), 2:05 p.m.
Wed., Mar. 8 -- at Big West Conference Tournament, Anaheim Convention Center (6,500), tba
IN A NUTSHELL: Cal State Fullerton (12-11, 4-8) closes out the Big West Conference schedule this week on the road and then hosts two non-conference games before the Big West Tournament. The Titans need three wins to clinch a winning season and need to beat both UCSB and Cal Poly to have a remote chance at a fourth-place finish and a first-round tourney bye.
"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. All ROAD Big West Conference games can be heard on KSPA (1510 AM) with Justin Alderson calling the action.
ABOUT THE GAUCHOS: UCSB (12-11, 4-6) is the hottest team in the Big West, winning five games in a row -- three on the road -- including Saturday's Bracket Buster at San Jose State. Cecil Brown (14.1 ppg) is the No. 7 scorer in the Big West and Chris Devine (12.2 ppg) is tied for No. 14 as well as ranking No. 1 in field goal percentage at .584. UCSB is 8-3 at home.
ABOUT THE MUSTANGS: Cal Poly (7-16, 5-5) is in a battle for third place with Long Beach State. The Mustangs are only 4-7 at home going into a Thursday night game vs. UC Riverside, their first home game since Feb. 4. Derek Stockalper is the leading scorer (12.8 ppg) and rebounder (6.6 rpg) and Dawin Whiten is the primary threat from 3-point range, making 39.3 percent of his long-range shots (53 of 135).
PROBABLE FULLERTON STARTERS:
No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg rpg Quick Notes
C 5 Justin Burns 6-6 Jr. 9.6 6.5
Scored career-high 21 points at Long Beach State; No. 5 in BWC in boards
G 3 Bobby Brown 6-1 Jr. 17.6 2.7
Made NABC All-District 15 second team; CSF's No. 8 career scorer
F 1 Jamaal Brown 6-7 Sr. 16.9 8.0
Shooting .600 from floor last four games (30-for-50)
G 0 Frank Robinson 6-4 So. 10.1 4.8
In second start of year got 16 points, 5 rebounds vs. Eastern Washington
G 14 Jermaine Harper 6-3 Sr. 9.3 3.0
Averaging 12.9 points over last 13 games
OFF THE BENCH:
G 23 Vershan Cottrell 6-2 Sr. 5.3 3.3
Career highs of 8 rebounds, 6 assists to go with 12 points at UC Riverside
C 34 Gary Nunez 6-7 Jr. 2.8 1.6
Had 8 points, 4 rebounds in 11 minutes at FIU
G 22 John Clemmons 6-0 Sr. 2.9 1.7
Career-high 10 points vs. UCSB, at UC Irvine and at UC Davis
G 33 Jerard Moret 6-4 Fr. 3.6 2.9
Had career-high 13 points at UC Irvine; missed 4 games with broken finger
C 15 Curtis Battles 6-10 Jr. 2.0 1.8
Has played 40 minutes in team's past 11 games
C 52 Manny Montano 6-10 Jr. 1.4 0.8
Palomar College transfer hasn't played in conference games
G 11 Damien Massey 5-11 RFr. 0.0 0.0
Has played only 15 minutes vs. Hope, at UC Irvine and vs. E. Washington
THE COACH: Bob Burton is 44-39 in his third year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .530, Burton has the second best winning percentage of any Titans' head coach, trailing only Bobby Dye (109-78, .583). He is 4-2 vs. UCSB (1-1 at UCSB) and 3-2 vs. Cal Poly (1-1 at SLO).
SERIES HISTORIES: Cal State Fullerton has won four in a row from UC Santa Barbara to narrow the Gauchos' advantage in the series to 31-29. In the Thunderdome, UCSB holds a 17-9 edge but the Titans have won twice in the last three years including a 66-57 win last year. In this year's first meeting on Jan. 4, the Titans rode Jermaine Harper's 21 points to a 73-59 win. UCSB shot 55 percent in the second half while Bobby Brown was going 0-for-8, but the Titans held on as they committed only 7 total turnovers and John Clemmons scored 10 points.
Cal Poly leads the all-time series vs. CSF, 25-17, and has an 11-8 edge at the Div. I level (since 1996-97). The Mustangs snapped a 3-game losing streak to Fullerton with an 83-70 win in Titan Gym on Jan. 2 to open Big West Conference play. Dawin Whiten made 6 of 9 3-point field goal tries on his way to 25 points and Derek Stockalper led all rebounders with 10. Cal Poly shot 64 percent from the floor in the second half to thwart any Fullerton rally from a 35-30 halftime deficit.
WHAT HAPPENED?: Most of the pre-season publications and polls picked Fullerton to win the Big West Conference with Pacific the primary challenger despite Coach Bob Burton's protestation that the losses of second-team All-Big West senior forwards Ralphy Holmes and Yaphett King and senior forward Hardy Asprilla (who missed half of the season) would be difficult to overcome. While five of the six returnees have produced improved individual scoring averages (Bobby Brown 17.6 ppg this year vs. 16.8 ppg last year; Jamaal Brown 16.9 ppg vs. 12.4 ppg; Justin Burns 9.6 ppg vs. 2.7 ppg; Jermaine Harper 9.3 ppg vs. 9.7 ppg; Vershan Cottrell 5.3 ppg vs. 1.8 ppg and John Clemmons 2.9 ppg vs. 1.9 ppg), the newcomers have been unable to fill the void. Holmes (16.9 ppg) and King (13.8 ppg) combined for 30.7 ppg and Asprilla averaged 8.5 in 12 games. They have basically been replaced by Frank Robinson (10.1 ppg), Jerard Moret (3.6 ppg) and Gary Nunez (2.8 ppg), who have combined for only 16.5 ppg. The team statistics are basically the same as last year. For other differences, read on.
CLOSE GAMES: Pick your measuring stick -- last season, Fullerton was 7-4 in games that went down to the final shot, 6-0 in games decided by 1 or 2 points and 3-0 in overtime. This year's team is 1-3 in overtime and 2-4 in games decided by 5 points or less. Fullerton missed game-winning shots in the final seconds of regulation at USF and vs. UCR and missed free throws allowed Long Beach State to make two buzzer-beating treys. Fullerton missed two potential game-winning shots at UC Davis and survived two by the Aggies before opening a 12-point lead in the third overtime and maintaining enough of it to survive a Davis 3-pointer at the buzzer. Both games vs. Pacific were tied with about 5 minutes to play and the Tigers won both with 17-8 and 14-9 finishes.
SECOND-HALF SWOONS: Fullerton is 8-6 after leading at the half, 1-0 when tied and 3-5 when trailing. The Titans have held second-half leads in 8 of their 11 losses: by as many as 19 points in the second half before losing at USF, by 7 vs. Texas-San Antonio, by 5 vs. Cal Poly, by 2 at Pacific and by 2 at home vs. Pacific, by 5 vs. Long Beach State, by 7 vs. UC Irvine and by 8 vs. UC Riverside. They have outscored the competition in first halves, 858-754, but have been outscored by 26 points in the second halves and by 6 points in overtime periods.
LIVE AND DIE BY THE THREE: Fullerton is 10-1 when it has a better 3-point field goal percentage than its opponent and 2-10 when it is inferior. When the Titans make more treys, they are 7-3, and when they make fewer, 3-8. They are 2-0 when the total is the same. In overall field goal percentage, Fullerton is 10-3 with a better percentage and 2-8 with a less number.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Fullerton played only 12 of its 32 games last year in Titan Gym and this year's schedule shows another dozen games at home and at least 16 on the road. The Titans did not have a home game between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, making trips to South Dakota/Kansas, San Francisco, San Jose and Miami. In a 46-day span, they were on the road for at least part of 23 days. Going back to last season, the Titans are 18-15 in their last 33 games away from Titan Gym. This year they are 7-6 away from Titan Gym, where they are 5-5.
BROWNS PAYING THE PRICE: Junior Bobby (17.6 pg) and senior Jamaal (16.9 ppg) have scored 44 percent of the Titans' points this year and rank Nos. 2 & 4, respectively, in the Big West Conference in scoring as of Feb. 18. They rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the Big West in minutes played and both are far from 100 percent healthy. Bobby had some back and ankle problems and Jamaal has had back and nose problems.
ALL EYES ON BOBBY: Bobby Brown was selected to the NABC All-District 15 second team last week, the only Big West Conference player represented among 150 players. The first team is Jordan Farmar and Aaron Afflalo of UCLA and Gabe Pruitt and Nick Young of USC. Joining Brown on the second team are Louis Armundson of UNLV, Kevin Kruger of Arizona State, Matthew Knight of LMU and Nick Lewis of USD. Brown is the 18th member of the Titans' 1,000-point club and currently ranks No. 8 at 1,312. At No. 7 with 1,327 points is Tony Neal (1981-82 thru 1984-85) and at No. 6 with 1,329 is Henry Turner (1984-85 thru 1987-88). Bobby made 4 of 7 3-point tries vs. Eastern Washington to snap a 2-for-22 slump behind the arc. With a season-high 9 assists vs. EWU, Bobby now has 340 career assists to rank No. 5 on the Titans' career list, passing Aaron Sunderland (1991-92 thru 1992-93) at 339. No. 4 at 351 is Eugene Jackson (1984-85 thru 1987-88). At Cal State Northridge on Jan. 7, Bobby passed Chris Dade to rank No. 1 in Titan career 3-point field goals and now has 211. He made the all-tournament team at both USF and FIU. He has had some remarkably dissimilar scoring halves this season, to wit: 6 in the first half and 18 in the second half at San Jose State; 6 and 22 vs. Cal Poly; 10 and 0 vs. UCSB; 0 and 17 vs. CSU Northridge; 18 and 4 at Pacific; 0 and 17 (including overtimes) at UC Davis; 2 and 19 (including overtime) vs. UC Riverside and 0 and 11 at Long Beach State.
HARPER BEYOND SLOW START: The senior guard is averaging 12.9 points over the last 13 games despite a 2-point effort (1-for-10 shooting) at Long Beach State. Over that span he has made 37-of-80 (.463) from the 3-point line. In the first 10 games of the season he was 9-of-44 (.204) from trey-land and averaged 4.7 points. In his Titan career he has had seven games of 20 or more points and 17 of 4 points or less. 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 .371 and is on pace to make about 56. He has jumped into the No. 10 spots on the career lists for 3-point field goals made (116) and attempted (315).
JAMAAL THE INSIDE FORCE: Senior Jamaal Brown sat out almost the entire second half at UCI due to back problems after scoring only 4 points with 3 rebounds and then broke his nose with about 9 minutes to play at UC Davis after totaling 8 points and 3 rebounds. Still, he is No. 4 in the conference in scoring and No. 2 in rebounding. He posted his third 30-point game of the year with 31 vs. Long Beach State on Jan. 19, making 13 of 16 shots. In December he 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 on Dec. 9 & 10. 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 five double-doubles to go with eight last year for a total of 13, good for seventh place on the Titans' career list. He ranks No. 2 in the Big West with a .512 field goal percentage and has shot .600 in the last four games.
BURNS CONTINUES TO IMPROVE: Junior Justin Burns was easily the most improved Titan player from the end of last season through the November-December schedule and he has continued to make progress. He scored Fullerton's first 10 points at Long Beach State on his way to a career high of 21 points. He has posted three double-doubles in the last 12 games. His absence due to foul trouble was critical in the losses at USF, vs. Cal Poly, at Pacific and vs. UC Riverside. He ranks fifth in the Big West in rebounding at 6.6 per game and had a career-best 16 at UC Davis on Jan. 28. He had the best game of his career to that point at Cal State Northridge on Jan. 7, scoring 18 points and matching his previous rebounding best with 10. He nearly matched those numbers at UC Riverside with 17 points and 10 rebounds. At CSUN he attempted 20 free throws (making 12) to come up only two shy of the CSF school record of 22 attempts by Leon Wood on Nov. 19, 1981, vs. Texas-Arlington.
ROBINSON GETS SECOND START: Sophomore Frank Robinson got his second start of the year vs. Eastern Washington (also at Pacific on Jan. 9) and responded with 16 points and 5 rebounds with 2 assists, 3 steals and no turnovers. He is the team's No. 3 scorer and rebounder despite coming off the bench in 21 games. He has made 8 of his last 10 tries from 3-point range to break into third place in the Big West Conference rankings at .442 (34-for-77). Twice he has scored 20 points -- vs. Hope and at CSUN. In the Florida International Tournament, he had 9 steals in the two games and made the all-tournament team.
COTTRELL CONTRIBUTING: The senior off 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. At UC Riverside he had 12 points (all in the first half) along with career highs of 8 rebounds and 6 assists. He again had 8 rebounds vs. UCR on Feb. 4. Last year he averaged roughly 2 points and 1 rebound but this year is at 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds and has started 18 times.
CLEMMONS MORE THAN A BACK-UP: The third senior guard has emerged as much more than Bobby Brown's caddy. He has provided a consistent defensive spark off the bench at point guard and has played substantial minutes with Brown moving to off guard. Clemmons had a career-high 10 points vs. UCSB including a career-best two 3-point field goals (in 2 tries) and matched those numbers at UCI and again at UC Davis. His assist/turnover ratio (58/24) is outstanding at 2.42-to-1 (the Big West leader is CSUN's Bakari Altheimer at 1.92) but Clemmons needs to have 3 assists per game to qualify for the conference leader board and currently he is averaging only 2.64. He had 7 assists and no turnovers in 14 minutes vs. Long Beach State and 4 assists and 1 turnover in 15 minutes vs. UC Irvine on Jan. 21.
WESTCHESTER CONNECTION: Assistant Coach Marlon Morton joined 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 and Jarrel Lake all played for the Comets.
LOOKING BACK: Last year's team accomplished a remarkable number of positive statistics and records, most notably tying for the second most victories (21) in a Div. I season (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. The Titans have not had consecutive winning seasons since 1983-84 and 1984-85.
NATIONAL TV: Since advancing to the Western Regional Finals of the 1978 NCAA Tournament, the Titans have received minimal televison coverage beyond regional networks and they are winless on national broadcasts. The latest was a 67-62 home loss to Pacific on Feb. 23 on ESPN2. In reverse chronological order, the Titans also lost at Pacific on CSTV on Jan. 7 of this season; at Georgetown in the 2005 NIT on March 22 on ESPN; at home in OT to Long Beach State on Feb. 19, 1990, on ESPN and at UC Santa Barbara in OT on Jan. 29, 1990.
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 playing professionally overseas. 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 in December played on the East Coast (Miami, FL) 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.
THREE IS A BAD NUMBER: Fullerton opponents are having some sensational games with the 3-point basket. USF's Dommanic Ingerson made 6 of 7 in the final 11 minutes to lead a Don overtime win, Cal Poly's Dawin Whiten made 6 of 9 to lead a Mustang victory in the Big West opener, CSUN's Mike Efevberha made 8 of his last 9 tries (8 of 11 overall) in a narrow Fullerton win and UCR's Dedrick Bates (1 of 16 on the season) made 4 of 4 on Jan. 14. Long Beach State set a school record by making 14 in 34 attempts on Jan. 19 and then improved to 14 for 26 in the rematch on Feb. 16.