Titans Wrap Up Regular Season This Week

Feb. 28, 2006

Fullerton, Calif. -

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UPCOMING:
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 (13-12, 5-9) needs two wins in its final two regular season games this week to clinch consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1983-84 and 1984-85. If the Titans do not win twice, they would need to win one or two games in the Big West Conference Tournament next week. They are done with conference play at 5-9 and must await this week's results to learn if they will be the No. 5 or No. 6 seed.

TOURNEY SEEDING: The only conference games remaining are UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly at Pacific and Cal State Northridge, UC Riverside at Long Beach State and Long Beach State at UC Irvine. UoP and UCI are guaranteed byes in the first two rounds and Long Beach State and Cal Poly are likely to get first-round byes although UC Santa Barbara has a mathematical chance. Fullerton is currently in sixth place but could move up to the No. 5 seed if UCSB goes 0-2 this week.

"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. Todd Reeves calls the action this week.

ABOUT THE AGGIES: UC Davis is 8-18 overall and 2-9 on the road with wins at UC Irvine and Cal Poly. Forward Phil Rasmussen is the top rebounder at 6.2 rpg and one of five closely bunched double figures scorers at 12.5 ppg. The Aggies have lost three in a row including an overtime loss at home Saturday to Long Beach State for which they suited only 8 players.

ABOUT THE JACKRABBITS: South Dakota State will take a 9-18 record into a Friday night game at San Diego State and then conclude its season in Fullerton on Sunday afternoon. The Jacks have won four of their last seven including Saturday's 57-53 win at Texas-Pan American. No. 2 scorer Steve Holdren has missed the balance of the season since injuring a knee in an 82-70 loss to Fullerton on Nov. 28. Matt Cadwell (15.3 ppg) and Ben Beran (11.8 ppg) have picked up the scoring slack.

PROBABLE FULLERTON STARTERS:
No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg rpg Quick Notes
C 5 Justin Burns 6-6 Jr. 9.5 6.4
Scored career-high 21 points at Long Beach State; No. 5 in BWC in boards
G 3 Bobby Brown 6-1 Jr. 17.5 2.7
CSF's No. 6 career scorer leads Big West in scoring; 23 assists last 3 games
F 1 Jamaal Brown 6-7 Sr. 16.7 8.4
Seven double-doubles this year & 15 for career, fourth best in CSF history
G 0 Frank Robinson 6-4 So. 10.7 4.7
Averaging 17 points last 3 games as starter; leads BWC in 3-point percentage
G 14 Jermaine Harper 6-3 Sr. 9.3 2.9
Averaging 12.3 points last 15 games; CSF's No. 8 career 3-point FG maker

OFF THE BENCH: G 23 Vershan Cottrell 6-2 Sr. 5.6 3.3
Near perfect shooting on last road trip -- 7-for-7 FGs, 3-for-3 3's, 3-for-4 FTs
C 34 Gary Nunez 6-7 Jr. 2.7 1.5
Had 8 points, 4 rebounds in 11 minutes at FIU
G 22 John Clemmons 6-0 Sr. 2.7 1.7
Career-high 10 points vs. UCSB, at UC Irvine and at UC Davis
G 33 Jerard Moret 6-4 Fr. 3.2 2.8
Had career-high 13 points at UC Irvine; missed 4 games with broken finger
C 15 Curtis Battles 6-10 Jr. 1.8 1.6
Has played 42 minutes in team's past 13 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 45-40 in his third year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .529, Burton has the second best winning percentage of any Titans' head coach, trailing only Bobby Dye (109-78, .583). He is 3-0 vs. UC Davis and 1-0 vs. South Dakota State.

SERIES HISTORIES: Cal State Fullerton has won all three modern meetings with UC Davis over the past year and a half and has a 4-0 lead when you include the 1961-62 victory when CSF was known as Orange State College. This year's win was 94-92 in triple overtime on Jan. 28 at Davis. Fullerton beat SDSU in their inaugural meeting on Nov. 28 in Brookings, 82-70.

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 17.5 ppg this year vs. 16.8 ppg last year; Jamaal Brown 16.7 ppg vs. 12.4 ppg; Justin Burns 9.5 ppg vs. 2.7 ppg; Jermaine Harper 9.3 ppg vs. 9.7 ppg; Vershan Cottrell 5.6 ppg vs. 1.8 ppg and John Clemmons 2.7 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 (10.7 ppg), Jerard Moret (3.2 ppg) and Gary Nunez (2.7 ppg), who have combined for only 16.6 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 3-5 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 4-6 when trailing. The Titans have held second-half leads in 9 of their 12 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; by 8 vs. UC Riverside and by 2 at Cal Poly. They have outscored the competition in first halves, 930-836, but have been outscored by 16 points in the second halves and by 6 points in overtime periods.

LIVE AND DIE BY THE THREE: Fullerton is 11-2 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 8-3, and when they make fewer, 3-9. They are 2-0 when the total is the same. In overall field goal percentage, Fullerton is 11-3 with a better percentage and 2-9 with a less number.

FRIENDLY CONFINES OF TITAN GYM?: The Titans have won their last two home games after a four-game home losing streak, all in Big West Conference play. Last year's team was 10-2 at home, losing only to UCI and Pacific. Under Coach Bob Burton, the Titans are now 23-13 (.639) in Titan Gym -- 8-6, 10-2 and currently 5-5.

BROWNS PAYING THE PRICE: Junior Bobby (17.5 pg) and senior Jamaal (16.7 ppg) have scored 44 percent of the Titans' points this year and rank Nos. 1 & 4, respectively, in the Big West Conference in scoring through games of Feb. 25. 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 recently was selected to the NABC All-District 15 second team, 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. 6 at 1,345. At No. 5 with 1,489 points is Greg Bunch (1973-78). Bobby made 4 of 7 3-point tries vs. Eastern Washington to snap a 2-for-22 slump behind the arc and went 3-for-6 at UCSB next time out only to go 0-for-6 at Cal Poly. Including a season-high 9 assists vs. EWU and 14 on the road trip, Bobby now has 354 career assists to rank No. 4 on the Titans' career list and trail No. 3 Keith Anderson (1975-79) at 393. 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 214. 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; 0 and 11 at Long Beach State and 7 and 18 at UCSB.

Jermaine Harper: The senior guard is averaging 12.3 points over the last 15 games despite a 2-point effort (1-for-10 shooting) at Long Beach State and a 3-point game (1-for-4) at UCSB. Over that span he has made 41-of-89 (.461) 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 18 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 .376 and is on pace to make about 54 prior to post-season. He has jumped into the No. 8 spot on the CSF career lists for 3-point field goals made (120) and the No. 10 spot for 3-pointers attempted (324).

JAMAAL THE INSIDE FORCE: Senior Jamaal Brown posted a pair of double-doubles on the recent road trip to give him 7 this season and 15 for his career, which ties him with Agee Ward for the fourth best CSF career total. 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. Jamaal 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. His field-goal percentage of .515 would rank No. 2 in the Big West Conference had he made 13 more to meet the minimum qualification. 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 6.4 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.

SIXTH-MAN ROBINSON FLOURISHING AS STARTER: Sophomore Frank Robinson has been a model of consistency since starting the last three games. He has scored 16, 17 and 18 points on 6-for-11, 7-for-10 and 7-for-13 shooting including 10-of-18 from the 3-point line. Going back to his 4-for-4 effort off the bench vs. Long Beach State, he is 14-for-22 (.636) in the last four games and has taken over the Big West Conference lead at .456. He is the team's No. 3 scorer and rebounder despite coming off the bench in 21 games. He scored Fullerton's first 14 points at Cal Poly on Saturday. 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.

VERSHAN SCORING: 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. On last week's road trip he missed only one shot -- a free throw. He was 7-for-7 from the floor including 3-of-3 from trey-land and 3-of-4 at the foul line. Last year he averaged roughly 2 points and 1 rebound but this year is at 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds and has started 18 times.

CLEMMONS CLUTCH: 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 (62/24) is outstanding at 2.58-to-1 (the Big West leader is CSUN's Bakari Altheimer at 1.86) but Clemmons needs to have 3 assists per game to qualify for the conference leader board and currently he is averaging only 2.58, tenth best in the Big West. 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. On last week's road trip he had 4 assists and no turnovers.

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.