December 24, 2008

Big West Opener Draws Favorite CSUN

Dec. 23, 2008

Fullerton, Calif. -

Complete Release in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader


UPCOMING:
Mon., Dec. 29 -- Cal State Northridge, Titan Gym, 7:05 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 3 -- at UC Irvine, Bren Center, 7:05 p.m.
Thur., Jan. 8 -- at Cal Poly SLO, Mott Gym, 8 p.m. ESPNU-TV

IN A NUTSHELL: The Titans (6-6) open Big West Conference play against the pre-season favorite, Cal State Northridge (3-7), which has gone 3-0 at home and 0-7 on the road. Fullerton is 4-0 at home. Both teams have played arguably their toughest pre-season schedules in recent years. The Matadors like to attack the offensive glass and defensive rebounding is an achilles heel for the Titans. Fullerton practiced Dec. 23 before taking three days off for the Christmas holiday. There are no other Big West games until January.

FREE PARKING: The University officially is closed for the holiday break (Dec. 25 to Jan. 1) so parking is FREE for the Northridge game.

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. Mike Martinez, Eric Pessalano and Patrick Alog will call the Cal State Northridge game in the Titans' first attempt at a trio of announcers.

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. 25.8 2.2a 7-for-11 at 3-point line in second half vs. Montana State
G 22 Jacques Streeter 6-0 Fr. 9.2 4.4a Season-high 23 points vs. Montana State; 5-of-8 from 3-point line
F 42 Papa Guisse 6-8 Jr. 5.3 5.6r Leads Big West with 2.0 blocked shots per game
F 24 Gerard Anderson 6-6 Jr. 10.5 6.0r Quick return from sprained ankle Dec. 6; got 15 points vs. CSU Bakersfield
G 11 Marcio Lassiter* 6-2 Sr. 9.0 2.7r Only 4-for-22 from 3-point line since 3-for-3 effort vs. Charlotte
OFF THE BENCH:
F 21 Chris Rhymes 6-4 Jr. 5.0 2.1r Scored 10 points in first half vs. Charlotte on 4-for-4 shooting
G 0 Aaron Thompson 6-4 Jr. 8.1 3.4r Season-high 18 points, 6 steals at Montana St.; concussion vs. MSU at home
F 43 Ray Miller 6-8 Jr. 4.8 3.5r Leads team with .641field-goal percentage
G 14 Ameer Shamsud-din 6-2 Fr. 1.1 1.3a Scored first points on Mainland with deuce vs. CSU Bakersfield
C 55 Adam Thomas 7-2 Jr. 0.9 0.7r 4 points on 2-for-2 shooting at Montana State
F 5 Regan Andersen 6-7 Jr. 1.5 2.0r Well-traveled Milwaukee native; walk-on transfer from Oxnard College
G 44 Kwasi Mensah 6-3 Fr. 0.0 0.0a Walk-on from Rancho Cucamonga HS
*letters earned

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 have won nine of the last 10 meetings vs. Cal State Northridge to take a 32-24 lead in the all-time series. The Matadors snapped an 8-game losing streak to the Titans with an 82-74 win in Titan Gym on Feb. 28 of last season but Fullerton avenged that loss with an 83-68 win in the Big West Conference Tournament semifinals in March.

ABOUT THE MATADORS: Cal State Northridge was the pick of both the media and the coaches in November to win the Big West Conference championship. But CSUN lost six in a row after an opening home win over Cal Lutheran. After easy home wins over Denver and Pepperdine, the Matadors lost Monday night at San Diego State, 72-56, committing 20 turnovers and shooting 41 percent from the floor and 58 percent from the free-throw line. Five players average between 9.1 and 11.9 points led by Deon Tresvant. Tremaine Townsend is the top rebounder at 7.0 rpg.

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 98-66 in his sixth year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .598, Burton is the winningest coach in Titan history. 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). Bobby Dye is second in winning percentage at .583 (109-78).

FRIENDLY CONFINES: Under Bob Burton, the Titans are 52-18 (.743) in Historic Titan Gym including 4-0 this season. Fullerton's all-time Div. I Titan Gym record is 277-152 (.646). Fullerton also is 1-8 in regular season home games at the Anaheim Convention Center.

SECOND HALF BLAHS: In the last four games, the Titans have slumbered out of the locker room at halftime. Vs. Central Michigan it took 3:09 to score and 3:28 to get a field goal. At Montana State, the Bobcats "won" the game with a 15-2 run over the first 4:09 of the second half. Against Cal State Bakersfield, it was 2:55 to score and 4:04 to get a field goal, which stopped an 8-2 Roadrunner run. Montana State opened the half with a 9-2 run over 2:03 to tie the game at 35.

LOSING BATTLE OF THE BOARDS: Not surprisingly, given the heights on the roster and the quality of the competition, rebounding has been a problem for the Titans in 2008-09... Although outrebounded by only about 4 per game, the Titans have had some glaring disparities and have given up 16 offensive rebounds per game... Three of the four 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 and minus 18 (37 vs. 19) in a win at home over Montana State... the 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 and both LSU and Central Michigan 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.

PLAYER UPDATES:
Guard Josh Akognon was third in the nation in scoring (at 25.5 ppg) in games through Dec. 21, trailing only Davidson's Stephen Curry (30.0) and Chicago State's David Holston (26.4)... He was sixth in 3-point field goals made per game at 4.1 and 15th in free-throw percentage at .900... He has posted the second and third highest scoring games by a Div. I Titan with a pair of 41-point efforts this season at Hawaii and vs. Cal State Bakersfield... Each time he was selected Big West Conference Player of the Week... Only Bobby Brown's (currently of the Sacramento Kings) 47-point effort vs. Bethune Cookman on Dec. 16, 2006, is better... Akognon now has two of the top 20 scoring games in conference history... Only three other players (Raymond Lewis of Cal State L.A., Ed Ratleff of Long Beach State and Scott Brooks of UC Irvine) have scored 41 or more points more than once.

Akognon has been a typical streak shooter... He had 4 points (2-of-7 overall, 0-for-3 treys) in the first half vs. Montana State on Monday night but got 25 points (7-of-12, 7-of-11) in the second half... Six of the treys came in a span of 6:23 during which CSF went from a 35-35 tie to a 62-47 lead (27-12 run)... Seven made treys in a game matched his career high (fifth time, but first time all in one half)... He bounced back from a poor shooting night (6-of-23, 3-of-14) at Montana State to make 10-of-20, 6-of-11 vs. Cal State Bakersfield... Akognon made the all-tournament team in Hawai'i and was one vote shy of making the 6-man All-76 Classic squad in Anaheim... He is averaging 20.0 shots per game including 11.7 3-point tries... He set a Stan Sheriff Center record in Honolulu with 41 points in the win over Hawaii, making 12 of 29 shots including 7 of 18 3-pointers... In 44 career games, Akognon already has moved into the No. 4 spot on the CSF career 3-point field goal list with 168 (Chris St. Clair is No. 3 at 185)... He's also No. 4 in attempts with 435 (St. Clair is No. 3 with 511)... With 956 points , he is 44 shy of becoming the 19th Titan to score 1,000... Akognon is a nominee for the Bob Cousy Award to the nation's top point guard.

Forward Gerard Anderson missed only the Montana State game due to an ankle sprained in the opening minute vs. Central Michigan on Dec. 6... Other than a lack of conditioning, he appeared healthy against Bakersfield, making all six of his shots on his way to 15 points including a spectacular dunk off a lob pass from Josh Akognon on a fast break... He had a tomahawk breakaway dunk vs. Montana State on Dec. 22 that brought down the house... He scored the Titans' first point of the season (3:27 into the Texas State game) but didn't score again until the second half, when he erupted for 14 points in a span of less than 5 minutes on his way to a 20-point half... At Portland State he had 18 points and a game-high 10 rebounds but missed a game-winning shot at the buzzer... He had 10 rebounds in the first half and 12 total against a still unbeaten Wake Forest team that started three players 6-foot-9 or better.

Point guard Jacques Streeter erupted for a season high 23 points on Monday vs. Montana State, making 5-of-8 3-pointers... He leads the team with a .516 percentage from behind the arc... He was 7-for-10 overall after taking only 14 shots in the three previous games combined... He has handled the ball extremely well for a freshman with only 31 turnovers vs. 53 assists and has been among the Big West leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio, currently at 1.71... He has shown the potential for a triple double -- scoring in double figures 6 times, getting 12 assists in one game and grabbing as many as 9 rebounds.

Guard Aaron Thompson has proven to be an explosive offensive player... He had a season-high 18-point effort at Montana State where he went 7-for-10 from the floor and added 6 steals, the best mark in the Big West this season... He leads the team in trips to the hospital -- suffering a head laceration in practice in Portland on Nov. 22 and a concussion and possible broken nose on Dec. 22 vs. Montana State.

Guard Marcio Lassiter made a quick return from a knee that was bruised severely on Nov. 22 in Portland (see Thompson injuries), causing him to miss the Portland State game and the first half vs. Wake Forest... He got 8 points in the second half vs. the Demon Deacons and totaled a combined 20 vs. Saint Mary's and Charlotte back in a starting role... He matched his career high by making three treys vs. Charlotte, in only three tries including a back-breaker in overtime... But he is only 4-for-22 from behind the stripe over the past five games... He missed the first free throw of his CAREER in the second half vs. Central Michigan, snapping a string of 28 in a row including all 18 last season... He missed one of six vs. Bakersfield and is now 38-for-40 (.950) for his career with a string of 3 in a row.

Forward Chris Rhymes made a delayed debut on Nov. 20 vs. Hope, finally cleared after rehabbing since his March knee surgery... He scored 12 points in 17 minutes... He is still rounding into shape but was a catalyst vs. Charlotte, coming off the bench to hit 4-of-4 shots including a pair of 3-pointers in a 10-point first-half effort that rallied Fullerton from an early 8-point deficit... He played a season high of 22 minutes vs. CMU after Gerard Anderson's early departure to injury and took over his starting role in Bozeman.

Forward Papa Guisse had his best game of the young season vs. Charlotte with 8 points and 11 rebounds in 39 minutes of play... He blocked 5 shots vs. both Saint Mary's and Central Michigan and on the season has half (23 of 46) of the team's total of rejections to lead the Big West at 1.9 per game... He grabbed 8 rebounds at LSU... He is shooting .511 from the floor.