March 10, 2009

Defense of BWC Tourney Title Starts vs. UCR

March 10, 2009

Anaheim, Calif. -

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UPCOMING:
Wed., March 11 -- vs. UC Riverside, at Big West Conference Tournament, Anaheim Convention Center (7,500), 8:30 p.m. approximately

IN A NUTSHELL: The Titans (14-16, 7-9) are the No. 7 seed and play No. 6 seed UC Riverside in the first round of the Big West Conference Basketball Tournament Wednesday night. The winner plays either No. 3 Pacific or No. 4 UC Santa Barbara on Thursday. The Titans are defending tourney champions and face UCR in their first game as they did a year ago, winning, 81-69, in the second round after a first-round bye. Fullerton played three games at the ACC in November, losing to Wake Forest and Saint Mary's and beating Charlotte in overtime.

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 tournament games.

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. The tourney semifinals will be telecast on ESPNU and the final on ESPN2.

PROBABLE STARTERS:
No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg r/apg Quick Notes G 1 Josh Akognon 6-1 Sr. 23.5 3.2r BWC Player of Year; 15 Points Shy of Leon Wood's single-season record
G 22 Jacques Streeter 6-0 Fr. 10.4 4.4a 30th in nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.33; made BW all-freshman team
G 0 Aaron Thompson 6-4 Jr. 8.1 3.7r Averaging 14 points over last six games after 3.3 mark over previous 10
F 42 Papa Guisse 6-8 Jr. 3.5 4.2r Second in Big West with 1.37 blocked shots; season-high 10 pts. vs. L. Beach
F 24 Gerard Anderson 6-6 Jr. 9.2 5.9r Missed half of second UC Riverside game due to concussion
OFF THE BENCH:
G 11 Marcio Lassiter 6-2 Sr. 9.3 2.9r Exploded for 15 second-half points at UC Davis; career high for a game is 17
F 43 Ray Miller 6-8 Jr. 4.9 3.6r Matched career high with 12 points vs. Cal Poly; leads team with .656 FG%
G 21 Chris Rhymes 6-4 Jr. 4.7 2.1r Started six of the last 13 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 with UC Riverside, 19-15, after this year's split. Each team won at home, the Titans by 6 points, 58-52, on Feb. 1, and the Highlanders by 3 points, 63-60 on Feb. 26. Fullerton holds an 11-8 lead since 2000-01 when the Highlanders began the move to Div. I status. Fullerton is 1-0 vs. UCR in the Big West Tournament, winning last year, 81-69, in the second round.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: The Titans are 20-28 all-time in the tourney, 11-11 at the Anaheim Convention Center including their two titles in 1978 and 2008. In the Bob Burton Era, the Titans are 6-4 and have won at least one game in each of their last four appearances. Including non-Big West Tournament games, the Titans are 15-22 all-time in the Anaheim Convention Center.

ABOUT THE HIGHLANDERS: UC Riverside (17-12, 8-8) is coming off a 76-69 win at Cal Poly but will be without guard Javon Borum, who was suspended by the Big West Conference for one game for fighting late in that contest. (Borum played only 18 minutes and fouled out with 6 points vs. CSF on Feb. 26). First-team All-Big West forward Kyle Austin leads UCR in scoring at 16.8 points per game and is the No. 2 rebounder at 6.2 rpg. He averaged 19.5 points and 10 rebounds in two games vs. Fullerton this season.

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 106-76 in his sixth year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .5824, Burton is the second winningest coach in Titan history, having fallen behind Bobby Dye (.5829, 109-78) for the first time this season after Saturday's loss to UC Irvine. 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 9-4 vs. UCR and 4-1 vs. Coach Jim Wooldridge at UCR, 4-2 against him including a loss at Kansas State on Nov. 30, 2006 (84-59).

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).

NOT-SO-FRIENDLY CONFINES: Under Bob Burton, the Titans are 54-24 (.692) in Historic Titan Gym but were only 6-6 this season and only 2-6 in Big West home games. Fullerton's all-time Div. I Titan Gym record is 279-158 (.638). 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 at Cal State Bakersfield. In 16 conference games, the margin of victory was by 7 points or less on 11 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 losses vs. Cal Poly at UCR and vs. UCI and a 1-point home loss to Long Beach State.

SECOND-HALF TEAM: In non-conference games, the Titans had a problem coming out slowly to begin the second half. In Big West Conference play, that trend was reversed as they started the games slowly and trailed at the half (by an average of 9.5 points) in 13 of the 16 games (exceptions: +3 at Cal Poly, +10 at CSUN and +1 at Davis) including all eight home games by an average of 9.8 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 4-13 (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. Vs. UC Irvine on Saturday they went from 10 down late in the first half to plus one with 14:50 to play.

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 outrebounded their opponent only twice -- 38-36 at Long Beach State and 36-34 at UC Davis... Although outrebounded by only about 4.5 per game, the Titans have had some glaring disparities and have given up 13.8 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, they don't 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. In the post-season tournament, No. 3 SDSU beat No. 2 San Jose State and No. 4 Pacific beat No. 1 Fullerton in the semifinals and SDSU beat UoP in the finals.

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.