March 5, 2009

Multiple Story Lines in Basketball Finale Sat. at 5:03 p.m.

March 5, 2009

Fullerton, Calif. -

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UPCOMING:
Sat., March 7 -- UC Irvine, Titan Gym (4,000), 5:05 p.m. - HOMECOMING GAME - FSN West TV - Mayors Challenge
Wed., March 11 -- at Big West Conference Tournament, Anaheim Convention Center (7,500), tba

IN A NUTSHELL: The Titans (14-15, 7-8) wrap up the regular season Saturday with a plethora of story lines from which to choose. FSN West television (Ron Pitts & Michael Cage) will be on hand to chronicle: the Orange County rivalry, an outcome that will affect tournament seeding and CSF's attempt for a winning season record, the final home game for seniors Marcio Lassiter and Josh Akognon (who needs 29 points to break Leon Wood's school single-season scoring record), a homecoming pre-game tailgate party and halftime program that will feature alums from the school's 23-year history of football and a challenge between the mayors of the two cities involved. Otherwise, it's just another game.

MAYOR'S CHALLENGE: The mayor of the losing team must wear a hat or jersey from the winning team while presiding over a formal City Council meeting. Fullerton's mayor is Don Bankhead. Irvine's mayor is Sukhee Kang.

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. Michael Martinez and Erik Pessolano will call the Cal State Bakersfield game.

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
G 1 Josh Akognon 6-1 Sr. 23.8 3.3r NABC All-District 9; 28 points shy of Leon's CSF record 719 in 1983-84
G 22 Jacques Streeter 6-0 Fr. 10.3 4.4a Had 10 points, 7 assists at New Mexico St.; 7 pts., 10 assists at Bakersfield
G 0 Aaron Thompson 6-4 Jr. 7.8 3.6r Averaging 13 points over last five games after 3.3 mark over previous 10
F 42 Papa Guisse 6-8 Jr. 3.7 4.2r Second in Big West with 1.41 blocked shots; season-high 10 pts. vs. L. Beach
F 24 Gerard Anderson 6-6 Jr. 9.4 5.8r Missed half of UC Riverside game due to concussion
OFF THE BENCH:
G 11 Marcio Lassiter 6-2 Sr. 9.3 2.8r Exploded for 15 second-half points at UC Davis; career high for a game is 17
F 43 Ray Miller 6-8 Jr. 5.0 3.6r Matched career high with 12 points vs. Cal Poly; leads team with .644 FG%
G 21 Chris Rhymes 6-4 Jr. 4.8 2.1r Started six of the last 12 games; 8 points in 15 minutes at Bakersfield
G 14 Ameer Shamsud-din 6-2 Fr. 1.0 0.9a Erupted for season-high 10 points at Pacific on Feb. 12
F 5 Regan Andersen 6-7 Jr. 1.6 1.5r Well-traveled Milwaukee native; walk-on transfer from Oxnard College
G 44 Kwasi Mensah 6-3 Fr. 0.0 0.2r Walk-on from Rancho Cucamonga HS
C 55 Adam Thomas 7-2 Jr. 0.8 0.8r 4 points on 2-for-2 shooting at Montana State; out due to ankle injury

EASY FOR ME TO SAY: Josh ah-KOY-uhn &\#149; POP gee-SAY &\#149; Ameer shahm-suh-DEEN &\#149; zyah-KEESE Streeter &\#149; KWAH-zee Mensah &\#149; REE-guhn Andersen

SERIES HISTORY: The Titans lead the all-time series, 47-40, but had a 5-game winning streak snapped by a 78-74 loss at UCI on Jan. 3. Fullerton is 17-14 vs. UCI in Titan Gym since 1977-78 (some of previous sites unknown).

ABOUT THE ANTEATERS: UC Irvine (11-18, 7-8) has won 3 of its last 4 including a 78-72 overtime win over UC Riverside last Saturday. The Anteaters are 10-9 since opening the season 1-9. Freshman forward Eric Wise leads the team in scoring at 14 ppg and is No. 2 in rebounding at 5.9 rpg. The Anteaters lead the Big West in 3-point shooting at .404 led by Brett Lauer at .508 (62 of 122) and the Titans are last in defending the 3-point basket.

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 106-75 in his sixth year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .586, Burton is the winningest coach in Titan history but a loss would knock him back to No. 2. Bobby Dye is second in winning percentage at .5829 (109-78). Alex Omalev, who passed away on Nov. 10 at the age of 88, has the most total victories (139-176) followed by George McQuarn (122-117) and then Dye. Burton is 7-5 vs. UCI and Pat Douglass, 3-2 in Titan Gym.

ROAD WARRIORS: Under Bob Burton, the Titans have made dramatic strides as a road team. In the past four seasons plus this year (8-10) , they are 49-41 (.544) away from Titan Gym (includes 10-9 on neutral floors). For the previous 10 seasons (1994-95 thru 2003-04) the combined road record was 30-115 (.207). With a 3-11 mark in his first season (2003-04), Burton's total CSF road record is 52-52 (.500). Through games of March 3, the Titans had more wins (8) away from home than any other Big West Conference team.

FRIENDLY CONFINES?: Under Bob Burton, the Titans are 54-23 (.701) in Historic Titan Gym but only 6-5 this season and only 2-5 in Big West home games. Fullerton's all-time Div. I Titan Gym record is 279-157 (.640). Fullerton also is 1-8 in regular season home games at the Anaheim Convention Center.

CLOSE TO YOU: In 14 non-conference games, Fullerton had only three games decided by 6 or fewer points -- a 1-point loss at Portland State, a 6-point loss to Wake Forest and a 5-point win Tuesday at Cal State Bakersfield. In 15 conference games, the margin of victory has been by 7 points or less on 10 occasions -- a 1-point win at Long Beach; 4-point wins at Cal Poly, at UCSB and at CSUN; a 6-point win vs. UC Riverside; a 7-point win vs. UCSB, a 4-point loss in OT at UC Irvine, a 3-point loss vs. Cal Poly, a 1-point home loss to Long Beach State and a 3-point road loss at UCR.

SECOND-HALF TEAM: In non-conference games, the Titans had a problem coming out slowly to begin the second half (0-8 at Bakersfield Tuesday). In Big West Conference play, that trend was reversed they started the games slowly and have trailed at the half (by an average of 10 points) in 12 of the 15 games (exceptions: +3 at Cal Poly, +10 at CSUN, +1 at Davis) including all seven home games by an average of 10.0 points. They have come back to win four times (at UCSB, at Long Beach, vs. UCR and vs. UCSB). The season's record when trailing at the half is 4-12 (9-2 when leading at half, 1-1 when tied). Last year's team was 0-6 when trailing at the half but 24-2 when leading and 0-1 when tied. See chart on later page.

BIG COMEBACKS: Fullerton has fashioned some remarkable comebacks this season. Against UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 5, the Titans trailed by 19 points at the half and were down, 47-25 with 17:30 to play. But they finished the game with a 47-18 run to win, 72-65. At UCSB on Jan. 10 they trailed by 13 with 4:30 to go in the first half but caught up 6 minutes into the second half and went on to win, 62-58. At UC Davis on Feb. 14 they went from a 28-15 deficit with 9 minutes to go in the first half to a 69-56 lead at 12:05 of the second half, a 54-28 run over less than 17 minutes. At Long Beach on Jan. 29 they were down, 39-26, with 17:30 to play and came back to win, 61-60, finishing the game with a 35-21 run. Even in defeat -- vs. Cal Poly on Feb. 7, they went from a 31-20 deficit with 4:45 to go in the first half to a 53-43 lead with 12:38 to play, a 33-12 run over a little more than 12 minutes; and vs. Long Beach State on Feb. 18 they went from a 35-23 deficit at 2:32 of the first half to 6 up at 58-52 at 9:13 of the second half for a 35-17 run over 13 minutes.

LOSING BATTLE OF THE BOARDS: Not surprisingly, given the heights on the roster, rebounding has been a problem for the Titans in 2008-09, particularly at the defensive end... In Big West Conference games, the Titans have outrebounded their opponent only twice -- 38-36 at Long Beach State and 36-34 at UC Davis... Although outrebounded by only about 4.7 per game, the Titans have had some glaring disparities and have given up 14 offensive rebounds per game... Four of the six worst rebounding disparities of the Bob Burton Era have occurred this season -- minus 29 (56 vs. 27) at LSU, minus 22 (54 vs. 32) vs. Saint Mary's, minus 18 (37 vs. 19) in a win at home over Montana State and minus 17 (49 vs. 32) in a Feb. 5 win over UCSB... The only other game in that neighborhood was minus 23 (50 vs. 27) vs. Wisconsin in last year's NCAA Tournament... Saint Mary's grabbed 26 offensive rebounds; UCSB had 22 and LSU, Central Michigan and UCR each got 20... Only one other team (Cal State Northridge with 21 on Feb. 10, 2007) has collected 20 or more offensive rebounds against a Burton team at CSF.

JUMBLED STANDINGS: Although the Big West Conference standings reflect great parity, it will take some doing to match the closeness of the 1975-76 race in the Big West's previous incarnation as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association. The 6-team standings that season ended up with Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State as co-champions at 6-4 followed by San Jose State and San Diego State, each at 5-5, and Fresno State and Pacific, each at 4-6.

NEXT YEAR'S SCHEDULE: Fullerton's tentative 2009-10 men's basketball schedule currently includes tournaments in Logan, Utah, and Nacogdoches, Texas, and an ESPNU Bracket Buster rematch at home vs. New Mexico State. A "guarantee" game or two also will be added.

NEW PARKING FEE: Effective since Feb. 7, an \$8 special events parking fee will be charged at all weekend Cal State Fullerton home men's basketball and baseball games. Previously, parking fees were charged only for weeknight games.