On the Road Again for Titan Men

Jan. 6, 2006

Northridge, Calif. -

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UPCOMING: Sat., Jan. 7 - at Cal State Northridge, The Matadome, 4:05 p.m. Mon., Jan. 9 - at Pacific, Spanos Center in Stockton, 8:05 p.m. (CSTV) Sat., Jan. 14 - at UC Riverside, Student Recreation Center, 4:10 p.m.

IN A NUTSHELL: Cal State Fullerton (7-4, 1-1) is back on the road after a 1-1 homestand which opened Big West Conference play. The Titans play Cal State Northridge's conference opener on Saturday afternoon and then travel to Stockton for a nationally televised game against the defending conference champion Pacific Tigers, who take a 9-4 record into their conference opener Saturday against UC Riverside.

RADIO: All ROAD Big West Conference games plus the Jan. 28 game at UC Davis can be heard on KSPA (1510 AM) with Justin Alderson calling the action. 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.

ABOUT THE MATADORS: Cal State Northridge (5-5, 0-0) has not played since Dec. 30 when it lost to Fairfield, 66-65, for its first home loss of the season. The Matadors have been led by UC Irvine transfer Mike Efevberha, who leads the Big West in scoring at 20.5 points per game. Guard Bakari Altheimer has the best assist/turnover ratio in the Big West at 1.94.

ABOUT THE TIGERS: Pacific (9-4, 0-0) defeated previously unbeaten Texas A&M on Tuesday night to take a 9-4 record into its Big West opener vs. UC Riverside on Saturday. The Tigers have won five out of their last six games, losing only in overtime at UTEP. They have won at San Francisco and Western Kentucky and routed San Jose State and Fresno State at home.

PROBABLE STARTERS:
No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg rpg Quick Notes
F 1 Jamaal Brown* 6-7 Sr. 17.5 9.2
Leads conference in rebounding; career high 6 assists vs. UC Santa Barbara
C 5 Justin Burns* 6-6 Jr. 7.3 5.8
Has been in double figures in scoring three times this season
G 3 Bobby Brown** 6-1 Jr. 19.5 3.1
Back-to-back BWC player of week honors; needs 3 more treys for CSF mark
G 23 Vershan Cottrell* 6-2 Sr. 5.3 3.3
Had 12 points in first half vs. Cal Poly but scoreless in second half
G 14 Jermaine Harper* 6-3 Sr. 6.2 1.9
Erupted for 21 points vs. UCSB after zero vs. Cal Poly

OFF THE BENCH:
G 0 Frank Robinson 6-4 So. 10.3 5.0
Credited with 9 steals in 48 minutes of action in Miami; made all-tourney team
G 22 John Clemmons* 6-0 Sr. 2.9 1.2
Career-high 10 points vs. UCSB including career-best two treys in two tries
C 34 Gary Nunez 6-7 Jr. 4.1 2.1
Had 8 points, 4 rebounds in 11 minutes at FIU
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 52 Manny Montano 6-10 Jr. 1.4 0.8
Palomar College transfer known for shot blocking abilities
G 11 Damien Massey 5-11 RFr. 0.0 0.0
Has played only vs. Hope International

SIDELINED:
G 33 Jerard Moret 6-4 Fr. 4.3 3.8
Broke a bone in his right (shooting) hand in practice on Jan. 3.
*letters earned

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 39-32 in his third year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .549, Burton has the second best winning percentage of any Titans' head coach, trailing only Bobby Dye (109-78, .583). At 20-18, Burton has the only winning record in conference play among all Titan head coaches. He is 3-2 vs. Cal State Northridge (2-0 at CSUN) and 0-4 vs. Pacific. Spanos Center is the only Big West venue where he has not won.

SERIES HISTORIES: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series vs. Cal State Northridge, 25-23, after sweeping both meetings last season by similar scores -- 71-70 in overtime at CSUN and 72-70 in Titan Gym. Fullerton is 4-5 vs. the Matadors since they joined the Big West Conference and 2-2 in that time frame in the Matadome, winning on their last two trips. Pacific holds a 39-29 advantage over the Titans having won four in a row, 12 of the last 13 and 17 of the last 19. Fullerton is 7-17 in the Spanos Center, ending a 13-game losing streak there in 2002-03 with a 55-52 victory.

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, which now appears to be the front runner after its more impressive 9-4 pre-conference performance.

THE BROWNS DELIVER: Junior Bobby (19.5 pg) and senior Jamaal (17.5 ppg) have scored 48 percent of the Titans' points this year and are Nos. 2 & 3 in the Big West Conference in scoring behind Cal State Northridge's Mike Efevberha (20.5 ppg). Jamaal is leading the Big West in rebounding at 9.2 per game and Bobby leads the team in assists (4.4 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. His shooting percentage and assist averages are up slightly over his career marks but so is his turnover rate. His 3-point shooting is up (.410 vs. 2-year career mark of .372) after making 24 of 52 (.462) in the last six games and he needs only three 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 1,121 points ranks him No. 14. Bobby has 294 career assists. He needs 45 more to crack the all-time Titan top five. He is wearing an arm sleeve this year (see Allen Iverson) and may need the support after putting up 28 shots vs. Texas-San Antonio. That tied for the seventh most shot attempts in a game by a Titan since the 1980-81 season. The record is 34 by Leon Wood vs. Fresno State on Feb. 9, 1984. Ralphy Holmes took 29 shots vs. Pepperdine on Dec. 4, 2002. Brown's 15 3-point attempts vs. Cal Poly are his career high and second most by a Titan to 18 by Mark Hill at UNLV on Jan. 3, 1990.

JAMAAL WAS ON A ROLL: Senior Jamaal Brown became only the third Titan (Leon Wood and Cedric Ceballos) 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 9 more total rebounds. He had eight double-doubles last year. He made 5-of-9 shots vs. UCSB after making only 14 of 48 shots (.292) in the three previous games.

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 off the bench. His absence due to foul trouble was critical in the loss at USF and he got two early whistles vs. Cal Poly. By comparison, he TOTALED only 17 points and 23 rebounds in the final 11 games of last season vs. 80 points and 64 rebounds in the first 11 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 10.3 points per game, the No. 3 rebounder at 5.0 per game and is shooting 41 percent from 3-point range and a team-best 80 percent from the foul line. In the Florida International Tournament, he had 9 steals in the two games and made the all-tournament team. 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.

HARPER GETS HOT: The senior guard had his best game of the season vs. UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday afternoon with a season's-best 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting (5 of 7 treys). In the previous five games he was 3-for-22 from behind the arc. He did not score in 21 minutes in the previous game vs. Cal Poly. In his Titan career he has had five games of 20 or more points and 15 of 4 points or less. Last year he made 70 of 191 treys (.366 percentage) and tied for fifth most in a season by a Titan. This season he is shooting .275 and is on pace to make about 35.

COTTRELL STEPPING UP: The other senior off guard continues to play above his 2004-05 level. He was the Titans' leading scorer (15 points) at Kansas State and he made all 5 shots in the first half vs. Cal Poly on his way to 12 points. He did not get a shot in the second half. Last year he averaged roughly 2 points and 1 rebound but this year is at 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds.

CLEMMONS SCORING: The third senior guard has emerged as much more than Bobby Brown's caddy. He has provided a consistent defensive spark off the bench and, playing with Brown at the off guard, he is emerging as an offensive threat. He had a career-high 10 points vs. UCSB including a career-best two 3-point field goals (in 2 tries). His assist/turnover ratio is outstanding at 3-to-1 (Big West leader is 1.94).

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 Miami. Going back to last season, the Titans are 15-12 in their last 27 games away from Titan Gym. Coach Bob Burton's first Fullerton team was 3-11 on the road.

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, Jerard Moret and redshirts Scott Cutley and Jarrel Lake 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.