New Start for Slumping Titans at Tournament

March 5, 2007

Anaheim, Calif. -

UPCOMING:
Thurs., Mar. 8, at Big West Conference Tournament, Anaheim Convention Center Arena, 6 p.m. vs. lowest remaining seed, KVMD-TV

Fri., Mar. 9 - if victorious, will play lowest remaining seed (UoP, CSUN or UCR) at 6 p.m., EPSNU-TV

Sat., Mar. 10 - if victorious again on Friday, will play in championship game at 8 p.m., ESPN2-TV


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IN A NUTSHELL: Cal State Fullerton (19-9, 9-5) has lost the momentum of what was developing into one of the best seasons in the program's history but four losses in the last five games will be forgotten by winning the Big West Tournament and the school's second NCAA Tourney Berth. The Titans let a No. 2 tourney seed and bye into the semifinals get away from them with a home finale loss to Cal Poly and they missed a second opportunity to log victory No. 20 when they lost to a 4-23 UC Davis team on Saturday night. The Titans still need one more win for their fifth 20-win season in school history (fourth at the Divl I level).

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: This will be Cal State Fullerton's 29th appearance in the 32nd year of the Big West (nee PCAA) Post-Season Tournament (CSF missed in 1996, 2000 and 2002). Only Pacific (30th) has made more appearances. The Titans won it in 1978 over Long Beach State and lost in the finals in Anaheim to Fresno State in 1982 and at the Forum to UNLV in 1985. They are 3-7 in semifinal games and 12-18 in preliminary rounds for a total of 16-27 (7-10 at the Anaheim Convention Center).

INTERNET AUDIO: 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 will handle the play-by-play for the tournament.

INTERNET VIDEO: All Titan home games and road Big West Conference games are available via videostreaming on a subscription basis. Details are available on the Big West website at www.bigwest.org.

PROBABLE STARTERS:
No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg r/apg Quick Notes
C 5 Justin Burns 6-7 Sr. 10.6 6.6r Fifth in the Big West in rebounding; averaging only 8.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg last 7 games
F 2 Scott Cutley 6-5 Jr. 15.7 9.3r First-team All-Big West; BWC rebounding leader; 4th in scoring, 6th in FG%
G 3 Bobby Brown 6-2 Sr. 20.2 5.2a First-team All-Big West; Cousy Award finalist needs 7 treys for BWC record
G 22 Ray Reed 5-11 Jr. 7.8 3.2a Averaging only 3.5 points over last 10 games; leads team in steals (1.75 spg)
G 0 Frank Robinson 6-4 Jr. 11.5 5.8r Honorable mention All-Big West; averaging only 7 points over last 4 games

OFF THE BENCH:
G 54 Marcus Crenshaw 5-10 So. 11.6 2.3a Strong candidate for "sixth man of year" award; 13 treys in last three games
C 42 Andrew Green 6-6 Jr. 3.7 2.8r Had 8 points in 12 minutes vs. UC Riverside; 6 points, 6 boards at UC Irvine
F 43 Chris Minardo 6-10 So. 3.5 1.9r Had 5 points, 4 rebounds in 11 quality minutes at Pepperdine
F 34 Marcus Morgan 6-5 Jr. 1.7 2.6r Played 26 minutes on UoP/CSUN road trip with 5 points and 8 rebounds
F 21 Kenneth Alexander 6-6 Jr. 3.3 2.9r Key reserve at UoP with 7 points, 5 rebounds in 19 minutes; started at Wright St.

ABOUT THE TITANS: The Titans have posted their third consecutive winning season, something that hadn't been done in Fullerton since Coach George McQuarn posted four winning records between 1981-82 and 1984-85. They have totaled as many as 19 victories for only the fourth time in the school's 33-year Div. I history. Only three other CSF teams (23-9 in 1977-78; 21-8 in 1982-83; and 21-11 in 2004-05) have won more than 18. (Fullerton went 24-7 as an NAIA member in the 1961-62 season). The tie for second place trails only a first-place tie in 1975-76 and an outright second-place ranking in 1982-83 as the best conference standing in their 33-year Div. I history. Four of the five usual starters plus Crenshaw are averaging in double figures in scoring. The Titans lead the Big West in scoring at 82.4 points per game.

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 67-50 in his fourth year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .573, he has the second best winning percentage of any Titans' head coach, having passed but then fallen back behind Bobby Dye (109-78, .583) this season. He is 2-3 in Big West Tournament games.

ON THE ROAD: Under Bob Burton, the Titans have made dramatic strides as a road team. In the past two seasons plus this year they are 27-24 (.529) away from Titan Gym. In the previous 10 seasons the combined road record was 30-115 (.207). Burton's total CSF road record is 30-35 (.462). At home, the Titans were 12-2 this year and are 37-15 (.712) under Coach Burton.

Bobby Brown: Senior point guard Bobby Brown is the focal point of the Cal State Fullerton program. An unheralded product of Westchester High School in Los Angeles, he has developed into one of the nation's finest players and an All-America candidate. He tested the NBA draft waters last summer but opted to return for his senior year. He is one of 13 Div. I finalists for the Bob Cousy Award as the nation's top point guard. Last week he made NABC's first All-District 15 team with UCLA's Aaron Afflalo and Darren Collison, Arizona's Marcus Williams and USC's Nick Young. On Monday he earned his second first-team All-Big West Conference berth, becoming only the fifth Titan to win multiple berths, joining Greg Bunch, Calvin Roberts, Leon Wood and Cedric Ceballos. On Tuesday he made the US Basketball Writers' Assn. All-District 9 team with Afflalo, Collison, Young and Williams plus Aaron Brooks of Oregon, Sean Denison of Santa Clara, Derrick Low of Washington State, Rodney Stuckey of Eastern Washington and former Westchester HS teammate Brandon Heath of San Diego State.
With 40 seconds to play on Feb. 22 vs. UCSB, he made two free throws to become the Titans' all-time leading scorer, passing All-American, Olympic gold medalist and 6-year NBA veteran Leon Wood, who is now an NBA referee. Moments earlier, he became only the tenth player in Big West history with 500 assists and now has 509. For good measure that night, he had a career-high 9 rebounds. Brown was selected Big West Conference player of the week after his 47-point game against Bethune-Cookman, the second highest scoring total in Big West history behind 53 by Raymond Lewis of Cal State L.A. on Feb. 23, 1973, vs. Long Beach State. The 46-year-old school record was 45 points by Jon Brettman vs. Luke Air Force Base on Dec. 12, 1960. The old school Div. I record was 38 by Morton on Jan. 7, 1988, vs. UC Irvine. Eleven 3-point field goals broke the CSF mark of 10 by Ryan Dillon (Jan. 31, 2001, vs. Boise State) and tied the Big West record of Chris Brown of UC Irvine on Mar. 13, 1994, vs. New Mexico State. On Feb. 8 at Pacific, Bobby moved into the No. 3 spot alone on the Big West Conference career 3-pointer list and currently is at 305. The record is 311 by Pacific's Adam Jacobsen in 1994-98 and second is Cal Poly's Mike Wozniak at 308. Brown has made only 3 of 16 (.188) in the past two games. He has failed to make a trey in only two games this season -- Jan. 27 vs. UC Irvine and Feb. 3 at UCR in back-to-back games.

AND MORE: Brown ranks among the Big West leaders in every category except rebounding and blocked shots. He began this week No. 1 in assists (5.24 apg), No. 1 in 3-point field goals (3.12 per game), No. 2 in scoring (20.2 ppg), No. 6 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.44), No. 8 in steals (1.32 per game), No. 2 in minutes played (34.20 per game), No. 10 in 3-point field goal percentage (.408), No. 7 in free-throw percentage (.775) and No. 8 in field goal percentage (.478). At Cal State Northridge on Feb. 10 he scored the team's final 8 points including 6-of-6 at the foul line in the final 1:42 to hold off the Matadors, who had erased a 15-point Fullerton lead. He is third in assists in CSF history (behind Wood at 744 and Wayne Williams at 537) and ninth in the Big West with 509. He's also ninth in Big West career scoring with 1,920 points. No. 8 is Michael Wiley of Long Beach State with 1,962.

Frank Robinson: The junior swingman received honorable mention on the All-Big West team. He has been playing with strained hamstrings the past few weeks yet still began this week ranked No. 11 in scoring in Big West games only at 12.9 points per game. In his last four games he has scored a season-low 2, 8, 8 and 10 points. He had his first game-winning shot as a Titan on Jan. 20 when he drilled a 3-pointer with one second remaining for a 71-68 victory at UC Irvine. In his only previous attempt at a game-winner, he missed a jumper with 5 seconds remaining in the first overtime of what became a triple-overtime CSF win at UC Davis on Jan. 28, 2006. Since the game winner at UCI (which came after he missed his five previous attempts of the game), Frank is 11-for-41 (.268) from behind the arc. For the season he is shooting .297 compared to .445 last season, which was third best in the Big West. Robinson just missed being the fourth Titan with a double-double vs. UC Riverside on Jan. 13 with 15 points and a season-high 9 rebounds. His 12 rebounds Saturday at UC Davis tied his career high, set originaly vs. Long Beach State in last year's tournament.

Justin Burns: Posted his 11th career double-double and sixth this year with 14 points and 13 rebounds at UC Riverside on Feb. 3 but since then has managed only 58 points and 27 rebounds in the last seven games combined and did not start for the first time at Wright State. He had a brilliant game vs. UCR on Jan. 13, getting a double-double in the first half with 15 points and 10 rebounds and finishing with 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting and 14 rebounds, just shy of his career highs of 22 points and 16 rebounds. He ranks No. 5 in the Big West in rebounding at 6.6 per game. He won Big West Conference Player of the Week honors in November when he posted his first pair of double-doubles in victories at Texas-San Antonio and Louisiana-Lafayette. He had a career second-best of 21 points vs. Texas-San Antonio. Since making 11-of-15 free throws in the first two Big West games at Cal Poly and UCSB, he is only 20-for-52 (.385) at the foul line.

Scott Cutley: Junior forward from Kent State earned first-team All-Big West Conference honors, joining Leon Wood as the only Div. I transfers in CSF history to make first-team all-conference. He seems impervious to injury. He fractured his left thumb in December but missed only one game, playing with a splint. He needed x-rays on Feb. 13 after injuring his lower left leg, yet he played 37 minutes the next night vs. Long Beach State with another double-double (15 points and 11 rebounds). He leads the Big West with 10 and no one else has more than seven. He earned Big West player of the week honors for his play in the home wins over UC Davis and UC Irvine in late January, making 20 of 27 shots including 6 of 9 3-pointers while averaging 26.5 points and 10.5 rebounds. He ranks No. 1 in the Big West in rebounding at 9.3 per game, No. 4 in scoring at 15.7 ppg and No. 6 in field goal percentage at .488. With 8 points vs. UCSB on Feb. 22, he had only his second single-digit scoring night of the season but then had his third (6 points) at UC Davis on Saturday, when he got three fouls in the first five minutes and No. 4 in the first minute of the second half, finally fouling out after only 14 minutes of action. He received the Lyle Parks, Jr., "Hustle Award" this season from the Titans Athletics Club.

RAY REED: Georgetown transfer Ray Reed leads the Titans and is second in the Big West Conference in steals (1.75) and is second on the team and ninth in the conference in assists (3.21). He failed to start for the first time all season on Saturday night at UC Davis but played 29 minutes off the bench with 3 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists. He was in double figures in scoring in each of the first five games of the season but then went five games in single digits until a 15-point effort vs. San Jose State. He has shot 8-for-30 (.267) from the floor in the last seven games. He just missed a triple-double against Hope International when he had 23 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists.

Marcus Crenshaw: Sophomore transfer from Kent State is a leading candidate for the Big West Conference's "sixth man" award. Since starting the first 3 games in a roster shortage and averaging 18 points, he has come off the bench to average 10.9 as a substitute, usually in bunches. At UCI he scored all 10 of his points in a span of 4:05 to fuel a second-half 14-6 CSF run. Against UCR on Jan. 13 he scored 17 points in 18 minutes. He had 19 points in 18 minutes vs. San Jose State and 15 points in 20 minutes vs. Cal State Northridge and then hit two huge treys at CSUN, the second putting Fullerton ahead to stay. In back-to-back games on Feb. 22 and 24, he made a career-high 6 treys, in 13 attempts vs. UCSB and in 16 tries vs. Cal Poly. He is second on the team and in the Big West in 3-point field goals made at 2.82 per game and No. 8 in percentage at .418. With 79 treys, he has moved into third place on the Titan single-season list, 11 shy of record holder Don Leary. His total of 65 assists is fourth on the team. He has scored 0.526 points per minute played, second best on team to Bobby Brown's 0.591. Crenshaw had a rooting section about 70 strong at Wright State in Dayton on Feb. 17.

OUT OF THE BLOCKS: In 14 of their first 16 games, the Titans jumped out to double-digit first-half leads, but they have failed to do so in all but two (at Wright State and vs. UCSB) of their last 12.

LIVING RIGHT: Twice this season the Titans have survived 3-point field goal tries by opponents at the buzzer that would have turned CSF victories into defeat. And both times it was the opponent's leading scorer -- Ross Mouton at Louisiana-Lafayette and Marvin Lea at Pepperdine -- taking the shot. Ironically, in both games, the Titans led by 18 in the first half -- 29-11 at ULaLa and 30-12 at Pepperdine. And at Cal State Northridge on Feb. 10, Rob Haynes made a 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds to go that would have tied the game had a foul not been called before the shot, negating the basket.

LONG DISTANCE DIALING DECISIVE: The Titans rank third in the Big West behind Cal Poly and Long Beach State in 3-pointers made (8.46 pg) and third behind Cal Poly and UCSB in percentage (.374). They set a school record by attempting 33 treys on Jan. 4 vs. Cal State Northridge and matched it on Feb. 24 vs. Cal Poly. They tied the single-game mark for makes with 14 at Cal Poly on Dec. 28. Yet poor 3-point field goal shooting has been critical in all of their losses, particularly the Big West defeats -- 5-for-20 at UCSB; 6-for-23 and 8-for-23 vs. Long Beach State; 2-for-16 at UC Riverside and and 9-for-33 vs. Cal Poly. They were 6-of-21 (.286) at Wright State and 3-for-15 at UC Davis. In their 19 wins, they have shot .414 from behind the arc. In their nine losses they have shot .284.

FREE THROWS: Free throw shooting has been erratic for the Titans. After 13 games they were shooting .714 (190 of 266). In the next 9 games they made only 101 of 190 (.532). In the next five games they were 71-for-97 (.732) but then made only 17 of 32 in defeat at Davis. They have shot under 50 percent vs. CSUN, UCR, UCI (twice) and Pacific. Three times their 3-point percentage has been better than their free-throw percentage.

ONLY ONE NEW STOP: Lafayette, Louisiana, with its Cajundome was the only stop on the Titans' original basketball itinerary this year where the Titans had not previously competed. With the ESPNU Bracket Buster at Wright State, the new venues increased to two. In addition, three new opponents visited Titan Gym -- California Maritime, Bethune-Cookman and Louisiana-Lafayette -- and Wright State is on the schedue for 2007-08 as part of the reciprocal portion of the Bracket Buster scheduling.

RECORDS ARE FALLING: While the 2004-05 team dramatically changed the direction of the Cal State Fullerton men's basketball program, the current edition has found a way to make some history of its own in addition to the best overall and conference starts in 24 years. To wit:
&\#149; posted third consecutive winning season, something not accomplished since 1981-82 thru 1984-85 (4 in a row)
&\#149; second-longest home-court winning streak (15 games) in school's Div. I history
&\#149; swept season series from Pacific for the first time since 1988-89 and from UC Irvine for first time since 1998-99
&\#149; largest margin of victory in a conference game (40 points -- 98-58 vs. UC Riverside on Jan. 13)
&\#149; tied largest margin of victory for any game (52 points -- 108-56 vs. California Maritime on Nov. 10)
&\#149; tied record for most 3-point field goals made (14 -- at Cal Poly on Dec. 28)
&\#149; most points in a losing effort (110-100 loss at Eastern Washington on Nov. 27)
&\#149; points in a game by an individual (47 -- by Bobby Brown vs. Bethune-Cookman on Dec. 16)
&\#149; most 3-point field goals in a game by an individual (11 -- by Bobby Brown vs. Bethune-Cookman on Dec. 16)
&\#149; handed Louisiana-Lafayette its first home non-conference loss in four years, ending a 17-game win streak in the Cajundome
&\#149; earned first video coverage in the 5-year-old O'Reilly ESPNU Bracket Buster series
&\#149; swept the Stockton-Northridge road trip for the first time (started in 2001-02)
&\#149; the total of 19 victories is the fourth most in a Div. I season &\#149; the Titans' conference winning percentage of .643 (9-5) has been surpassed only twice -- .750 (12-4) in 1982-83 and .667
(12-6) in 2004-05. The 1977-78 and 1981-82 teams also went 9-5.