Tournament at USF Next Stop for Travelin' Titans

Dec. 5, 2005

San Francisco, Calif. -

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UPCOMING:
at University of San Francisco Invitational, Memorial Gym, San Francisco, California:
Fri., Dec. 9 - vs. Chicago State, 4:30 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 10 - vs. USF or New Mexico State, 4:30 or 7 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 21 - at San Jose State, 7 p.m.

IN A NUTSHELL: Cal State Fullerton is 3-1 as it prepares for the third and fourth games in a seven-game swing away from Titan Gym. The Titans' unbeaten streak was stopped at 3-0 when they were overwhelmed at Kansas State, 84-59, on Nov. 30. The Titans are the pre-season favorites to win the Big West Conference championship. 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 including a middle game at San Francisco. But two of the top three scorers and rebounders from that team are gone and inexperienced players are trying to fill the void.

ABOUT THE COUGARS: Chicago State takes a 1-2 record into a Dec. 6 game at Purdue before heading west for its fifth and sixth games of a 12-game season-opening road swing. This neutral court game (and maybe one vs. New Mexico State) is the only time the Cougars will avoid a hostile court until their Jan. 2 home opener vs. Oral Roberts. The Cougars are coming off a 9-19 year under fourth-year coach Kevin Jones. They have only one player scoring in double figures but guard Royce Parran is averaging 24 points. They have lost at Ohio State and Bradley and won at Illinois-Chicago.

ABOUT THE AGGIES: New Mexico State is 2-3 after a 67-61 win Saturday at home vs. arch rival New Mexico. The Aggies lost their season opener at UCLA. The top scorers are Elijah Ingram (15.4 ppg) and Tyrone Nelson (14.0) for first-year coach Reggie Theus.

ABOUT THE DONS: Host USF was struggling at 1-4 prior to a 90-72 home win over Texas Texas on Saturday night. USF hosts Wichita State on Dec. 6. Center Jerome Gumbs had 31 points and 7 rebounds vs. the Red Raiders after scoring only 45 points in his first five games. All five USF starters are averaging 9 points or more led by Armondo Surratt at 15.3 ppg. Coach Jessie Evans was 17-14 in his first season at USF including 0-1 vs. Cal State Fullerton and Bob Burton.

"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. Mel Franks is the announcer this weekend in San Francisco. Nine road games will be heard LIVE on KSPA (1510 AM) beginning with the Dec. 21 contest at San Jose State. Justin Alderson will be the radio announcer.

PROBABLE STARTERS:
No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg rpg Quick Notes
F 1 Jamaal Brown* 6-7 Sr. 16.5 8.3 Didn't get a first-half shot at Kansas State, but finished w/ 9 points, 11 boards
C 5 Justin Burns* 6-6 Jr. 6.8 6.5 Easily Titans' most improved player from a year ago; career-high 15 vs. Pep.
G 3 Bobby Brown ** 6-1 Jr. 16.5 2.3 Personal 10-0 run vs. Pepperdine was decisive stretch in win over Waves
G 33 Jerard Moret 6-4 Fr. 7.0 5.8 Mature true freshman from Westchester High School; scoreless at KSU
G 14 Jermaine Harper* 6-3 Sr. 5.3 1.8 Still coming back after a cyst was removed from behind his knee

OFF THE BENCH:
G 22 John Clemmons* 6-0 Sr. 0.0 1.0 Missed Kansas State game due to illness
G 23 Vershan Cottrell* 6-2 Sr. 5.5 2.8 More than doubled career high with team-leading 15 points at Kansas State
G 0 Frank Robinson 6-4 So. 9.5 4.3 Transfer from East Carolina coming off redshirt year
C 34 Gary Nunez 6-7 Jr. 5.5 2.3 Most Valuable Player of the Western State Conference North last season
C 15 Curtis Battles 6-10 Jr. 5.5 2.5 Scored 7 points in final 2 minutes at Kansas State
C 50 Adam Tancredi 6-9 Jr. 2.0 3.7 Had 6 points, 9 rebounds at South Dakota State
C 52 Manny Montano 6-10 Jr. 2.3 1.3 Palomar College transfer known for shot blocking abilities
G 11 Damien Massey 5-11 RFr. 0.0 0.0 Redshirt freshman made collegiate debut vs. Hope International *letters earned

SERIES HISTORIES: This will be the first meeting between Cal State Fullerton and Chicago State but the second day will renew an interesting rivalry either weay. Fullerton was only 7-23 against the Aggies -- 5-11 in Titan Gym, 2-12 in Las Cruces -- during their stint in the Big West Conference from 1983-84 through 1999-2000. Fullerton has had better luck vs. USF, splitting eight meetings and going 2-1 in San Francisco. The Titans have won the bigger games -- a 75-72 win in Albuquerque in the 1978 NCAA Tournament and an 85-69 decision last year at USF in the first round of the post-season NIT.

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 35-29 in his third year at Cal State Fullerton and career. He has not faced Chicago State's Kevin Jones nor New Mexico State's Reggie Theus but is 1-0 vs. USF's Jessie Evans. At .547, Burton has the second best winning percentage of any Titans' head coach, trailing only Bobby Dye (109-78, .583). At 19-17, Burton has the only winning record in conference play among all Titan head coaches.

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 13 have seen action despite nagging injuries to John Clemmons and Jermaine Harper. True freshmen Jarrel Lake and Mike Danielian and sophomore Chris Minardo have not suited up and are redshirt candidates.

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.

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, Jarrel Lake and Jerard Moret all played for the Comets.

TOURNEY HISTORY: This will be Fullerton's 26th regular season tournament at the Div. I level but only the third since the 1994-95 season. In 2002-03, Fullerton opened the season 0-2 at the Hawaiian Airlines Tipoff Classic in Honolulu. Last year it opened the season 1-1 at the Mohegan Sun Classic in New Britain, Connecticut. Fullerton has gone undefeated in seven tourneys and winless in only three. The last tournament the Titans won was the Cougar Classic at BYU in 1986-87 with wins over TCU and BYU.

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 20-8 (.714) 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 17 of their last 20 home games.

NEW FRILLS: Not coincidental to the recent home success, a squad of cheerleaders has been added to the home court ambience. Along with a flag carrier and a new student band, they join the entertainment package headed by the five-time national champion dance team, which had to settle for a second-place ranking last season.

LOOKING BACK: Last year's Titans 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 Ray 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.