Jan. 17, 2006
Fullerton, Calif. -
Thur., Jan. 19 - Long Beach State, Titan Gym (4,000), 7:05 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 21 - UC Irvine, Titan Gym (4,000), 2:05 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 25 -- at UC Irvine, Bren Center (5,000), KVMD television, 7:05 p.m.
IN A NUTSHELL: Cal State Fullerton (9-5, 3-2) plays only its fifth and sixth home games of the year this week, hosting Long Beach State (7-8, 2-2) on Thursday night and UC Irvine (8-8, 4-0) on Saturday afternoon. The Titans lost to Cal Poly (Jan. 2) and beat UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 4) in their only home games since the day before Thanksgiving and are 3-1 in Titan Gym. With only 14 conference games on the schedule this year, these are two critical contests in the Titans' attempt to win their first conference title since sharing the PCAA crown in 1976.
"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 49ers: Long Beach State plays 11 players double-digit minutes per game and leads the Big West in scoring at 81.3 points per game (Fullerton is second at 78.6). Four projected starters average in double figures in guards Jibril Hodges (13.5 ppg) and Kejuan Johnson (10.9 ppg) and forwards Shawn Hawkins (11.5 ppg) and Aaron Nixon (12.8 pg). The 49ers got their first road win on Jan. 9 at Cal Poly and then split two home games, losing to Pacific and beating Cal State Northridge. They lost their conference opener at UC Santa Barbara. Four of their losses have been by 6 points or less.
ABOUT THE ANTEATERS: Since a 5-game losing streak and two losses to non-Div. I opposition, UC Irvine has emerged as the only unbeaten team in Big West Conference play after road wins at Cal Poly and UCSB and home wins over Cal State Northridge and Pacific, two schools it had not defeated in the past two seasons. Senior guard Ross Schraeder leads UCI in scoring at 14.9 points per game and has hit 46 of 100 3-point field goals. Senior running mate Aaron Fitzgerald is averaging 12.3 ppg and was the Big West Player of the Week. Interior players Nic Campbell (11.9 pg) and Darren Fells (10.0 ppg) also are in double figures and Campbell has hit 50 percent from the 3-point line to contribute to a team percentage of .432, which ranks No. 2 in the nation behind Indiana's .474. UCI leads the conference in free-throw shooting at .744.
PROBABLE FULLERTON STARTERS:
No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg rpg Quick Notes
F 1 Jamaal Brown 6-7 Sr. 17.1 8.9
Averaging almost a double-double; 23-for-42 FGs last 4 games
C 5 Justin Burns 6-6 Jr. 8.5 6.3
Posted a pair of double-doubles in last three games
G 3 Bobby Brown 6-1 Jr. 19.3 3.1
CSF's 3-point FG record holder now No. 10 on career scoring ladder
G 23 Vershan Cottrell 6-2 Sr. 5.5 3.3
Career highs of 8 rebounds, 6 assists to go with 12 points at UC Riverside
G 14 Jermaine Harper 6-3 Sr. 7.9 2.0
Averaging 15.8 points last 4 games, making 15 of 26 treys
OFF THE BENCH:
G 0 Frank Robinson 6-4 So. 10.9 5.1
Got first start at Pacific; made all-tourney team at Florida International
G 22 John Clemmons* 6-0 Sr. 2.2 1.3
Career-high 10 points vs. UCSB including career-best two treys in two tries
C 34 Gary Nunez 6-7 Jr. 3.3 1.7
Had 8 points, 4 rebounds in 11 minutes at FIU
C 15 Curtis Battles 6-10 Jr. 2.7 2.0
Has played 9 minutes in each of past two games
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
G 33 Jerard Moret 6-4 Fr. 4.3 3.8
Broke bone in his right ring finger; return imminent
THE COACH: Bob Burton is 41-33 in his third year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .554, Burton has the second best winning percentage of any Titans' head coach, trailing only Bobby Dye (109-78, .583). At 22-19, Burton has the only winning record in conference play among all Titan head coaches. He is 3-1 vs. Long Beach State (2-0 in Titan Gym) and 2-2 vs. UC Irvine (1-1 in Titan Gym).
SERIES HISTORY: Long Beach State leads the all-time series, 52-36, although Fullerton has won three of the last four meetings. The 49ers are 14-20 in Titan Gym. Fullerton leads UC Irvine in the series, 42-37, with the teams splitting the season series in each of the past three seasons.
THE BROWNS DELIVER: Junior Bobby (19.3 pg) and senior Jamaal (17.1 ppg) have scored 46 percent of the Titans' points this year and rank Nos. 2 and 4, respectively, in the Big West Conference in scoring behind Cal State Northridge's Mike Efevberha (20.0 ppg). Jamaal ranks No. 2 in rebounding at 8.9 rpg behind Pacific's Christian Maraker at 9.2 rpg and Bobby leads the team in assists (3.93 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 (seven are booked for Thursday night) while trying to exert more leadership as the team's only two-year letterman. At Cal State Northridge on Jan. 7 he passed Chris Dade to rank No. 1 in Titan career 3-point field goals and now has 198. He leads the Big West in 3-pointers made per game (3.07).He is the 18th member of the Titans' 1,000-point club and currently ranks No. 10 at 1,177. At No. 9 with 1,240 points is Keith Anderson (1975-79). Bobby has 301 career assists and needs 38 more to crack the all-time Titan top five. He is wearing an arm sleeve this year (see Allen Iverson). Of late he has scored effectively in only one half per game. Vs. UCSB on Jan. 4 he was 5-for-6 for 10 points in the first half and 0-for-9 in a scoreless second half. He didn't score in the first half at CSUN on Jan. 7 on 0-for-6 shooting but made 6-of-6 in the second half for 17 points. At Pacific on Jan. 9 he was 7-for-10 in an 18-point first half but missed his first nine shots after intermission before making his last two. He reached balance at UCR on Saturday with 8 points in the first half and 9 in the second half.
JAMAAL THE INSIDE FORCE: Senior Jamaal Brown erupted in the second half at UC Riverside on Saturday, scoring 16 of his game-high 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting. He made seven unanswered points to thwart a late Highlander rally. In December he 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 on Dec. 9 & 10. 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 three double-doubles (30 points, 13 rebounds vs. Chicago State; 13 points, 12 rebounds at Florida International and 16 points, 11 rebounds at CSU Northridge) but would be AVERAGING a double-double with 16 more total rebounds. He had eight double-doubles last year. He made 5-of-9 shots vs. UCSB and 5-of-6 at CSU Northridge after making only 14-of-48 shots (.292) in the three previous games.
BURNS BECOMES 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 losses at USF, vs. Cal Poly and at Pacific. He is fifth in the Big West in rebounding at 6.3 per game. He had the best game of his career at Cal State Northridge on Jan. 7, scoring a career-high 18 points and matching his rebounding best with 10. He nearly matched it at UC Riverside on Saturady with 17 points and 10 rebounds. At CSUN he attempted 20 free throws (making 12) to come up only two shy of the CSF school record of 22 attempts by Leon Wood on Nov. 19, 1981, vs. Texas-Arlington.
SUPER SUB STARTS: Sophomore Frank Robinson had been the key Titan off the bench before earning a starter's role at Pacific. He was back on the bench at the start of the UCR game on Saturday. He is the No. 3 scorer at 10.9 points per game, the No. 3 rebounder at 5.1 per game and is shooting a team second-best .420 from the 3-point line. Twice he has scored 20 points -- vs. Hope and at CSUN. 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. He had scored in double figures in six games in a row before a 9-point effort at UCR.
Jermaine Harper: The senior guard has regained the form of his junior season in the last four games after a long shooting slump. In the last 4 games he is 22-for-38 (.579) from the floor including 15-of-26 (.577) from the 3-point line to average 15.8 points. In the previous five games he was 3-for-22 from behind the arc. In the first 10 games he was 15-for-60 from the floor and 9-of-44 from trey-land. He did not score in 21 minutes in the 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 .343 and is on pace to make about 69. He played all 40 minutes at Pacific as he appears to be in game shape after a Fall rehabilitation from a cyst removal.
Vershan Cottrell: 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. At UC Riverside he had 12 points (all in the first half) along with career highs of 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Last year he averaged roughly 2 points and 1 rebound but this year is at 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds and has started 11 times.
John Clemmons: The third senior guard has emerged as much more than Bobby Brown's caddy. He has provided a consistent defensive spark off the bench at point guard and has played substantial minutes with Bobby Brown moving to off guard. Clemmons had a career-high 10 points vs. UCSB including a career-best two 3-point field goals (in 2 tries). His assist/turnover ratio (32/15) is outstanding at 2.13-to-1 (the Big West leader is CSUN's Bakari Altheimer at 2.16) but Clemmons needs to have 3 assists per game to qualify for the conference leader board.
FRIENDLY CONFINES: Under Coach Bob Burton, the Titans are 21-9 (.700) 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 18 of its last 22 home games.
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.
HALFTIME INDICATORS: Fullerton is 6-4 after leading at the half, 1-0 when tied and 2-1 when trailing. The Titans have been outscored by 40 points in the second halves and by 2 points in overtime.
SPEAKING OF HALFTIME: Members of Cal State Fullerton's first athletic team -- the 1960-61 men's basketball squad -- will be introduced at halftime Thursday night. Scheduled to be present are: Coach Alex Omalev, Jon Brettman (who still holds the school single-game scoring record with 45 points vs. Luke AFB on Dec. 12, 1960), Edgar Clark, Gary Dougan, Terry Hermann, Dick Roche, Neale Stoner (who later became the AD in the 1970s) and Rex Vance. The team had a 16-14 record.
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 in December 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.