November 19, 2005

Titans Open Season of High Expectations vs. Hope

Nov. 19, 2005

Fullerton, Calif. -


UPCOMING:
Sun., Nov. 20 - Hope International, Titan Gym, 2:05 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 23 - Pepperdine, Titan Gym, 7:05 p.m.
Mon., Nov. 28 - at South Dakota State, Frost Arena, Brookings, SD, 5 p.m. PST
Wed., Nov. 30 - at Kansas State, Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, KS, 6 pm. PST (FSN Midwest TV)

IN A NUTSHELL: Cal State Fullerton opens its 2005-06 season Sunday at home against Hope International University with expectations higher than they have been in decades. The Titans are the pre-season favorites to win the Big West Conference championship and the post-season tournament and their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1978. The momentum began with a 21-11 season in 2004-05 capped by a 2-1 run on the road in the post-season NIT. But two of the top three scorers and rebounder from that team are gone and inexperienced players will have to fill the void.

ABOUT HOPE: Hope International University (previously known as Pacific Christian College) is located immediately south of the Cal State Fullerton campus, occupying buildings on the south side of Nutwood Avenue that formerly were CSF dormitories and a shopping center that housed the Titan Bookstore. Hope recently built a sparkling new gymnasium of its own and no longer uses Titan Gym as its home court, but the Royals' soccer teams still use the Titan pitches. The Royals are 0-3 under second-year Coach Greg Pappas but under NAIA rules this game will count as an exhibition for the Royals but a regulation game for the Titans. In their most recent game on Tuesday night, the Royals lost to Cal State Los Angeles, 109-69.

"RADIO": All 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. Justin Alderson is the announcer.

SERIES HISTORY: Hope opened Cal State Fullerton's home season last year and dropped a 107-73 decision. Six Titans scored in double figures led by Bobby Brown with 21. Only three players who scored last year for Hope return -- Dug Gomez had 7, Wesley Norman had 4 and Jonathan Leitch had 6.

DEEPER ROSTER PICTURE: A year ago the Titans took only nine able players on their first road trip due to injuries and first semester ineligibility. This year there are 16 eligible players and only guards John Clemmons (foot) and Jermaine Harper (cyst removed) are ailing.

THE HYPE: The Titans are the favorites -- for the first time in anyone's recollection -- to win the conference championship. They've won only one in the past and that was a co-title in 1975-76 when there were only six teams in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association. The Titans also bear the burden of being picked as one of the 65 teams in the NCAA Tournament by Sports Illustrated and ESPN.com and are the conference champion favorite by Athlon, Lindy's and The Sporting News publications. They are picked for second by Street & Smith behind Pacific.

BURTON SHINES: At 32-28 (.533), Bob Burton has the second best winning percentage of any Titans' head coach, trailing only Bobby Dye (109-78, .583). At 19-17, he has the only winning record in conference play.

WESTCHESTER CONNECTION: Assistant Coach Marlon Morton joins 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, Scott Cutley, Darell Lake and Jerard Moret all played for the Comets.

SEASON OPENERS: The Titans have struggled out of the gate in recent history, losing their last eight season openers. The last opening win was an unlikely one -- 75-67 at Brigham Young on Nov. 22, 1996.

HOME OPENERS: Not surprisingly, home openers have provided a better result. The Titans have won two of the last three -- over Hope last season on Nov. 27 and over Morris Brown on Dec. 2, 2002. In between was an overtime loss to Sacramento State on Nov. 29, 2003.

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 15 on the road. The Titans do not have a home game between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, making trips to South Dakota/Kansas, San Francisco, San Jose and Miami.

FRIENDLY CONFINES: Under Coach Bob Burton, the Titans are 18-8 in Titan Gym, posting the first consecutive winning seasons at home since 1997-98 and 1998-99. Last year's team was 10-2, losing only to UC Irvine and Pacific. Going back to the 2003-04 season, they have won 15 of their last 18 home games.

LOOKING BACK: Last year's team accomplished a remarkable number of positive statistics and records, most notably tying for the second most victories in a Div. I season (21 vs. 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.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Titans have not had consecutive winning seasons since 1983-84 and 1984-85, both 17-13 marks under Coach George McQuarn.

FALL SIGNEES: After a major emphasis on size in last year's recruiting class, the Titans have looked more to the wings in recruiting for 2006-07. Signing in the early November signing period were Kent State transfer guard Marcus Crenshaw (5-10), Boise State transfer forward Andrew Green (6-6) and West Valley College forward Marcus Morgan (6-5). The Titans also have a pair of four-year college transfers redshirting: forward Scott Cutley (6-5) from Kent State and guard Rayi Reed (6-1) from Georgetown.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Six 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 attempting to play professionally in a foreign country. 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. Drew Awad remains hospitalized after a reoccurrence of the cancer which forced him to drop out of school last December.