Titans Head to Miami for Final Conference Tune Up

Titans Head to Miami for Final Conference Tune Up

Dec. 23, 2005

Miami, Florida -

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UPCOMING: at Florida International University Holiday Classic, Miami, Florida
Tues., Dec. 27 - vs. Texas-San Antonio, 6 p.m. EST
Wed., Dec. 28 - vs. St. Bonaventure or Florida International, 6 or 8 p.m. EST
Mon., Jan. 2 - vs. Cal Poly SLO, Titan Gym, 7:05 p.m. PST
Wed., Jan. 4 - vs. UC Santa Barbara, Titan Gym, 2:05 p.m. PST

IN A NUTSHELL: Cal State Fullerton is 5-2 as it heads to the East Coast for the final stop of a seven-game road sequence and the final tuneup for Big West Conference play which begins on Jan. 2. The Titans are 3-2 away from Titan Gym after a 67-59 victory at San Jose State on Wednesday night.

"RADIO": 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. Mel Franks is the announcer in Miami. Justin Alderson began a schedule of nine road games on real radio -- KSPA (1510 AM) -- at San Jose State. The seven road conference games plus the game at UC Davis also will be carried live.

ABOUT THE ROADRUNNERS: Texas-San Antonio is 3-5 after a 2-point loss at New Mexico State on Tuesday night. Andre Owens leads the team with a 16.5 ppg average. In their only previous meetings, Fullerton and UTSA split a home-and-home series in the 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons with the home team winning each game.

ABOUT THE GOLDEN PANTHERS: Host Florida International is 3-6 -- 3-0 at home and 0-6 on the road -- and lost its last game at LaSalle in overtime on Tuesday night. Ivan Almonte is the leaing scorer at 14.6 pg.

ABOUT THE BONNIES: St. Bonaventure is 5-4 after a 69-51 loss Wednesday night at Marist. Through 8 games, the leading scorer was Amhad Smith at 17.0 ppg.

GO EAST YOUNG MEN: Cal State Fullerton is playing on the East Coast for the third time in 14 months after making only one appearance in the previous 30 years ((at Providence, Connecticut and Richmond in 1974-75). The Titans opened last season at a tournament at Central Connecticut State in New Britain and ended it with a post-season NIT game at Georgetown in the nation's capital.

PROBABLE STARTERS: No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg rpg Quick Notes
F 1 Jamaal Brown* 6-7 Sr. 21.6 9.0 Averaging almost a double-double; scored 85 points in last three games
C 5 Justin Burns* 6-6 Jr. 8.3 6.4 In double figures in scoring three times this season
G 3 Bobby Brown ** 6-1 Jr. 17.4 3.4 Matched career high in boards (7) & had season-high points (24) at San Jose
G 23 Vershan Cottrell* 6-2 Sr. 5.6 3.3 More than doubled career high with team-leading 15 points at Kansas State
G 14 Jermaine Harper* 6-3 Sr. 4.7 1.9 Last year's 36.6 percent 3-point shooter hitting only 19.4 percent this year
OFF THE BENCH: G 0 Frank Robinson 6-4 So. 9.6 4.9 Transfer from East Carolina coming off redshirt year
G 22 John Clemmons* 6-0 Sr. 0.7 1.0 Sparked second-half rally at San Jose State with 5 assists, defensive play
G 33 Jerard Moret 6-4 Fr. 5.3 4.3 Mature true freshman from Westchester High School
C 15 Curtis Battles 6-10 Jr. 2.8 1.5 Slimmed down JC transfer scored 7 points in final 2 minutes at Kansas State
C 34 Gary Nunez 6-7 Jr. 4.4 2.0 Most Valuable Player of the Western State Conference North last season
C 52 Manny Montano 6-10 Jr. 2.3 1.3 Palomar College transfer known for shot blocking abilities *letters earned

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 37-30 in his third year at Cal State Fullerton and career, 17-22 on the road. At .552, 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. This will be his first meeting with either Texas-San Antonio, FIU or St. Bonaventure.

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, which is off to a 7-4 start.

EARLY TRENDS: The Titans have not established a true trademark yet this season. They remain uptempo but have relied on Jamaal Brown in the paint for more scoring this season. They are plus 7.6 rebounds per game but have been hurt inside when Jamaal Brown or Justin Burns are out of the lineup, particularly in the losses at Kansas State and USF. Their field-goal defense percentage is a solid .413 but defensive lapses have allowed opponents to climb back from large double-digit deficits (South Dakota State went from 22 down to 7 down, Chicago State went from 18 down to 4 down, USF went from 19 down to a 2-point victory and San Jose State went from 14 down to 6 down in the final minutes). Perimeter shooting has been erratic with Jermaine Harper struggling at 19 percent and Frank Robinson (35 percent), Vershan Cottrell (31 percent) and Jerard Moret (37.5 percent) trying to pick up the slack to help Bobby Brown (40 percent) compile the team's 34.1 percent performance. Free-throw shooting has been spotty (64.8 percent).

THE BROWNS DELIVER: Senior Jamaal (21.6 ppg) and junior Bobby (17.4 ppg) have scored 49 percent of the Titans' points this year. Jamaal leads the team (and the Big West Conference) in rebounding at 9.0 per game and Brown leads the team in assists (5.1 per game) to rank second in the Big West. Both made the all-tournament team at San Francisco.

JAMAAL ON A ROLL: Senior Jamaal Brown became only the third Titan (Leon Wood -- 35 vs. McNeese State, 11/25/83, and 34 at Hawaii, 11/27/83; 33 vs. Fresno State, 2/9/84, and 30 vs. Pacific, 2/11/84; and 31 vs. New Mexico State, 3/1/84, and 35 vs. UC Irvine, 3/3/84 -- and Cedric Ceballos -- 33 vs. UCSB, 1/29/90, and 31 vs. San Jose State, 2/1/90; and 32 vs. UC Irvine, 2/24/90, and 34 vs. UNLV, 3/3/90) to post back-to-back 30-point games with 30 vs. Chicago State and 36 at USF. His 36-point one-game effort is topped only by Richard Morton's Div. I school record of 38 (vs. UC Irvine, 1/7/88). Ironically, Morton, currently the head coach of the San Francisco Pilots ABA team, was in attendance that night. Brown has had only one double-double (30 points, 13 rebounds vs. Chicago State) but would be averaging a double-double with 7 more rebounds. He had eight last year.

BOBBY FOCAL POINT: Junior point guard Bobby Brown is drawing more attention from opposing defenses as well as NBA scouts while trying to exert more leadership as the team's only two-year letterman. His shooting percentage and assist averages are up slightly over his career marks while his free-throw shooting percentage is down and his turnover rate is up. His 3-point shooting is up (.400 vs. previous career mark of .372) after making 8 of 14 in the last two games and he needs only 19 more treys to break Chris Dade's school career record of 191. At USF he became the 18th Titan to join the 1,000-point club and his current total of 1,029 points ranks him No. 15. Just ahead at No. 14 is Mark Hill (1988-89-1989-90) at 1,040 but then you jump up to 1,135 points by Pape Sow (Toronto Raptors) and then 1,155 by Bruce Bowen (San Antonio Spurs). Bobby has 282 career assists. He needs 57 more to crack the all-time Titan top five.

BURNS BECOME KEY: Junior Justin Burns has become probably the key Titan performer with the Browns consistently starring. Burns is easily the most improved Titan and they need him to stay out of foul trouble due to the lack of consistent play by the big men on the bench. His absence due to foul trouble was critical in the loss at USF. By comparison, he TOTALED only 6 points and 12 rebounds in the final seven games of last season vs. 58 points and 45 rebounds in the first seven games of this season with substantially more playing time.

SUPER SUB: Sophomore Frank Robinson has been the key Titan off the bench. He is the No. 3 scorer at 9.6 points per game, the No. 3 rebounder at 4.9 per game and is shooting 35 percent from 3-point range and a team-best 81 percent from the foul line. In addition to making the transition from idle redshirt year to a new system, he also is learning the power forward position on the run.

TANCREDI QUITS: Junior center Adam Tancredi quit the team after the USF Invitational because he had lost his desire. The transfer from Quinnipiac played well at South Dakota State (6 points, 9 rebounds in 20 minutes) but struggled against Kansas State and Chicago State with 4 fouls and 4 turnovers in 21 minutes to go with 3 points and 4 rebounds.

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: The Florida International Tournament will be Fullerton's 27th regular season tournament at the Div. I level, the second this year but only the fourth 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 did not have a home game between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, making trips to South Dakota/Kansas, San Francisco, San Jose and now Miami. Going back to last season, the Titans are 14-11 in their last 25 games away from Titan Gym. Coach Bob Burton's first Fullerton team was 3-11 on the road.

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.

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.


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