Titans Finally Back in Titan Gym for Big West Opener
Dec. 30, 2005
Fullerton, Calif. -
IN A NUTSHELL: Cal State Fullerton takes an overall 6-3 record into the Big West Conference schedule, where it will play its first two home games since Nov. 23. It's the best mark the Titans have taken into conference play since the 1996-97 team was 7-3. Coach Bob Burton's Titan teams have been 4-5 (2003-04) and 4-3 (2004-05) prior to conference play. Fullerton is 2-0 at home, 1-1 on neutral floors and 3-2 in away games. Four games in 8 days is the result of a compression of the conference schedule to avoid games between Christmas and New Year's.
"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. Justin Alderson, who began a schedule of nine road games on real radio -- KSPA (1510 AM) -- at San Jose State on Dec. 21, will do the announcing. The seven road conference games plus the game at UC Davis also will be carried live on radio.
ABOUT THE MUSTANGS: Cal Poly SLO sports a 2-7 record including an 0-5 road mark. The wins came at home over UC San Diego and Cal State Stanislaus. Guards Pooh Jeter (15.8 ppg) and Darren Cooper (14.0 ppg) lead the offense.
ABOUT THE GAUCHOS: UC Santa Barbara takes a 5-5 record into its Big West Conference opener Monday night at winless UC Riverside. UCSB is 5-0 at home with wins over USF, Pepperdine and, most recently, Portland, but 0-5 on the road including losses at North Carolina, Arizona State and, most recently, Fresno State. Guard Cecil Brown (14.0 ppg) and forward Chris Devine (10.4 ppg) are the top scorers.
No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg rpg Quick Notes
F 1 Jamaal Brown* 6-7 Sr. 19.8 9.2
12-for-34 FGs in Miami dropped his season FG percentage to .504
C 5 Justin Burns* 6-6 Jr. 7.7 6.2
Has been in double figures in scoring three times this season
G 3 Bobby Brown ** 6-1 Jr. 19.6 3.3
54 points to make FIU all-tourney team; matched career high w/30 vs. UTSA
G 23 Vershan Cottrell* 6-2 Sr. 4.9 3.6
More than doubled career high with team-leading 15 points at Kansas State
G 14 Jermaine Harper* 6-3 Sr. 5.2 1.9
Hit 3-of-last-5 3-point attempts at Florida International to snap 0-for-16 slump
OFF THE BENCH:
G 0 Frank Robinson 6-4 So. 10.0 4.7
Credited with 9 steals in 48 minutes of action in Miami
G 22 John Clemmons* 6-0 Sr. 1.5 1.0
Sparked second-half rally at San Jose State with 5 assists, defensive play
G 33 Jerard Moret 6-4 Fr. 4.6 4.0
Has played only 4 minutes in last 3 games; was averaging 21 minutes
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. 5.0 2.3
Had 8 points, 4 rebounds in 11 minutes at FIU
C 52 Manny Montano 6-10 Jr. 1.4 0.8
Palomar College transfer known for shot blocking abilities
THE COACH: Bob Burton is 38-31 in his third year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .551, 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. He is 3-1 vs. Cal Poly and Coach Kevin Bromley and 3-2 vs. UCSB and Coach Bob Williams.
SERIES HISTORIES: Cal Poly leads the all-time series, 24-17, and has a 10-8 edge at the Div. I level (since 1996-97) despite losing the last three meetings. Cal Poly is 5-4 in Titan Gym at the Div. I level but has lost on its last three visits to Fullerton. UCSB leads the all-time series, 31-28, and is 14-15 in Titan Gym, where it had a 7-game winning streak broken last year by a 68-59 Fullerton victory. The last four Gaucho wins came by a total of 11 points. Fullerton swept UCSB in three meetings last year as the teams met for the first time in the Big West Tourney.
THE HYPE: The Titans were the pre-season 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 were the conference champion favorite by Athlon, Lindy's and The Sporting News publications. They were picked for second by Street & Smith behind Pacific.
THE BROWNS DELIVER: Senior Jamaal (19.8 ppg) and junior Bobby (19.6 ppg) have scored 49.9 percent of the Titans' points this year. Jamaal was leading the Big West Conference (in games thru Dec. 27) in rebounding at 9.0 per game and Bobby leads the team in assists (4.6 per game) to rank second in the Big West. Both made the all-tournament team at San Francisco and Bobby also made the FIU all-tourney team.
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. He has scored 78 points in the last three games. His shooting percentage and assist averages are up slightly over his career marks while his free-throw shooting percentage is down slightly and his turnover rate is up. His 3-point shooting is up (.438 vs. previous career mark of .372) after making 18 of 33 (.545) in the last four games and he needs only nine 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 1,083 points ranks him No. 14. Bobby has 287 career assists. He needs 52 more to crack the all-time Titan top five.
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 two double-doubles (30 points, 13 rebounds vs. Chicago State and 13 points, 12 rebounds at Florida International) but would be AVERAGING a double-double with 7 more rebounds. He had eight double-doubles last year.
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 8 points and 15 rebounds in the final eight games of last season vs. 58 points and 48 rebounds in the first eight games of this season with substantially more playing time but around an abdominal muscle strain and a lacerated thumb.
SUPER SUB: Sophomore Frank Robinson has been the key Titan off the bench. He is the No. 3 scorer at 10.0 points per game, the No. 3 rebounder at 4.7 per game and is shooting 40 percent from 3-point range and a team-best 78 percent from the foul line. In the Florida International Tournament, he had 9 steals in the two games. 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.
CONFERENCE OPENERS: Fullerton won its conference opener last year (71-70 in overtime at Cal State Northridge) for the first time in 10 seasons. Two of those nine losses came to Cal Poly -- in 2002 at home and at San Luis Obispo in 2003.
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. His 2003-04 team was 8-6 and last year's team was 10-2, losing only to UC Irvine and Pacific. Going back to last season, Fullerton has won 17 of its 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.
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.
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?: Seven 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 and redshirt Adam Tancredi quit on Dec. 11. Drew Awad passed away on Dec. 26 after battling for more than a year against a reoccurrence of leukemia.
GO EAST YOUNG MEN: Cal State Fullerton last week played on the East Coast for the third time in 14 months after making only one appearance there 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.