January 23, 2006

Quick Rematch at UC Irvine Launches BWC Second Half

Jan. 23, 2006

Irvine, Calif. -

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UPCOMING: Wed., Jan. 25 -- at UC Irvine, Bren Center (5,000), KVMD television, KSPA Radio, 7:05 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 28 -- at UC Davis, The Pavilion (7,600), KSPA Radio, 2:00 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 4 -- vs. UC Riverside, Titan Gym (4,000), 2:05 p.m.

IN A NUTSHELL: Cal State Fullerton (9-7, 3-4) plays an immediate rematch with UC Irvine to begin the second half of the Big West Conference schedule reeling from its first back-to-back losses of this season and first since the same weekend of last season, Jan. 15-22 of 2005. The Titans lost Thursday night in overtime to Long Beach State and then lost to UC Irvine on Saturday afternoon, 67-59, weakened by a left ankle injury that limited Bobby Brown's effectiveness.

TELEVISION: Wednesday night's game will be televised by KVMD-TV (Channel 23 and / or check your cable listings). Geoff Witcher and Don Ford are the announcers. Fullerton is 0-2 on TV this year, losing at Kansas State on Fox Sports Net Midwest and at Pacific on CSTV. Still upcoming are an ESPN2 home game vs. Pacific and a KVMD road game at UC Santa Barbara. The Feb. 18 Bracket Buster now seems an unlikely TV possibility but the Big West Post-Season Tournament in Anaheim offers more opportunities.

"RADIO": All ROAD Big West Conference games plus Saturday afternoon's 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 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. Senior guard Aaron Fitzgerald is bidding for the league MVP Award and the bench has been productive led by freshman forward Adam Templeton, who had career highs of 18 points and 7 rebounds in a Thursday win at Riverside. UCI is shooting .433 from the 3-point line to rank among the nation's leaders.

PROBABLE FULLERTON STARTERS:
No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg rpg
Quick Notes
F 1 Jamaal Brown 6-7 Sr. 17.9 8.9
Made 13 of 16 field goal tries vs. Long Beach on way to 31 points
C 5 Justin Burns 6-6 Jr. 9.1 6.2
Posted a pair of double-doubles in last five games
G 3 Bobby Brown 6-1 Jr. 18.8 3.1
Injured left ankle in OT vs. Long Beach; limped to 11 pts. vs. UC Irvine
G 23 Vershan Cottrell 6-2 Sr. 5.6 3.4
Career highs of 8 rebounds, 6 assists to go with 12 points at UC Riverside
G 14 Jermaine Harper 6-3 Sr. 8.9 2.4
Averaging 16.0 points last 6 games, making 23 of 43 treys

OFF THE BENCH:
G 0 Frank Robinson 6-4 So. 9.5 4.8
Only 9 points, 9 rebounds in 42 minutes over last 3 games
G 22 John Clemmons* 6-0 Sr. 2.1 1.4
Career-high 10 points vs. UCSB including career-best two treys in two tries
C 15 Curtis Battles 6-10 Jr. 2.3 2.3
Has played 31 minutes in past four games
G 33 Jerard Moret 6-4 Fr. 3.5 3.1
Missed four games (1/4 thru 1/14) with a broken bone in his right ring finger
C 34 Gary Nunez 6-7 Jr. 3.2 1.7
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
G 11 Damien Massey 5-11 RFr. 0.0 0.0
Has played only vs. Hope International

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 41-35 in his third year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .539, Burton has the second best winning percentage of any Titans' head coach, trailing only Bobby Dye (109-78, .583). At 22-21, Burton has the only winning record in conference play among all Titan head coaches. He is 2-3 vs. UC Irvine (1-1 in the Bren Center).

SERIES HISTORY: Fullerton leads UC Irvine in the series, 42-38, with the teams splitting the season series in each of the past three seasons. In the previous 14 seasons plus Saturday, Fullerton is 9-5 at the Bren Center but only 7-8 vs. UC Irvine in Titan Gym (and 0-1 in Las Vegas).

BENCH NOT PRODUCTIVE: Fullerton's reserves have scored only 6 points in the last two games combined with 4 points in an overtime game vs. Long Beach State on Thursday and only 2 on Saturday vs. UC Irvine.

THE BROWNS DELIVER: Junior Bobby (18.8 pg) and senior Jamaal (17.9 ppg) have scored 47 percent of the Titans' points this year and rank Nos. 2 & 3 in the Big West Conference in scoring. Both made the all-tournament team at San Francisco and Bobby also made the FIU all-tourney team.

ALL EYES ON BOBBY: The condition of junior point guard Bobby Brown's left ankle clouds the issue this week. He injured it in overtime vs. Long Beach State on Thursday night and had to come out of the game. It affected his two free throw attemptss with 1.9 seconds to go and then limited his mobility Saturday when he took only 8 shots on his way to 11 points and was responsible in part for Aaron Fitzgerald's 28-point explosion for UC Irvine. He had to sit out the last 12 minutes and his game total of 25 was only one minute over his career low. He is the 18th member of the Titans' 1,000-point club and currently ranks No. 10 at 1,207. At No. 9 with 1,240 points is Keith Anderson (1975-79). Bobby has 308 career assists and needs 31 more to crack the all-time Titan top five. He is wearing an arm sleeve this year (see Allen Iverson). 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 202.

JAMAAL THE INSIDE FORCE: Senior Jamaal Brown posted his third 30-point game of the year with 31 vs. Long Beach State on Thursday night, making 13 of 16 shots. 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 four double-doubles (30 points, 13 rebounds vs. Chicago State; 13 points, 12 rebounds at Florida International; 16 points, 11 rebounds at CSU Northridge and 31 points and 10 boards vs. Long Beach State) but would be AVERAGING a double-double with 18 more total rebounds. He had eight double-doubles last year. If you take away his "holiday" shooting slump (combined 14-for-48 vs. UTSA, FIU and Cal Poly on Dec. 27-Jan. 2), he would be shooting .571 (101-for-177) from the floor. As it is, his .511 figure leads the team and is No. 4 in the Big West Conference. He has the best percentage on the team from behind the 3-point line at .480 (12 of 25) and has made 4-of-6 attempts in the last two 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 tied for sixth in the Big West in rebounding at 6.2 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 Saturday 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. He appeared to be the hero vs. Long Beach State with an offensive rebound and putback for a 1-point lead with 15 seconds to play in overtime.

Jermaine Harper: The senior guard has regained the form of his junior season in the last 6 games after a long shooting slump and has become a more consistent performer. In the last 6 games he is 34-for-61 (.557) from the floor including 23-of-43 (.535) from the 3-point line to average 16.0 points. In the previous five games he was 3-for-22 from behind the arc. In the first 10 games of the season 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 six 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 .368 and is on pace to make about 56. He is on the verge of breaking into the Titans' career top ten with 102 makes and 278 attempts, both figures currently placing him eleventh.

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 5.6 points and 3.4 rebounds and has started 13 times.

BATTLIN' CURTIS: Center Curtis Battles, who has lost 75 pounds in the last 12 months, has worked his way into the playing rotation over the past four games, contributing 7 points and 12 rebounds in a total of 31 minutes. He did not play a single minute in the previous fives games. ROBINSON STRUGGLING: Sophomore Frank Robinson had been the key Titan off the bench before earning a starter's role at Pacific. Since then, his contributions have diminished. He has failed to score in each of the last two games (0-for-4 in 27 total minutes) and played only 15 minutes (9 points) at UC Riverside. He had scored in double figures in the previous six games, playing no fewer than 21 minutes. He still is the Titans' No. 3 scorer at 9.5 points per game and the No. 3 rebounder at 4.8 per game. 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.

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 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 (43/16) is outstanding at 2.69-to-1 (the Big West leader is CSUN's Bakari Altheimer at 2.09) but Clemmons needs to have 3 assists per game to qualify for the conference leader board and currently he is averaging only 2.87. He had 7 assists and no turnovers in 14 minutes vs. Long Beach State and 4 and 1 in 15 minutes vs. UCI.

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 16 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. In a 46-day span, they were on the road for at least part of 23 days. Going back to last season, the Titans are 17-13 in their last 30 games away from Titan Gym.

WESTCHESTER CONNECTION: Assistant Coach Marlon Morton joined 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 6-5 after leading at the half, 1-0 when tied and 2-2 when trailing. The Titans have outscored the competition in first halves, 611-503, but have been outscored by 45 points in the second halves and by 3 points in overtime.

SPEAKING OF OVERTIME: Coach Bob Burton's first Titan team was 0-4 in overtime and last year's team was 3-0. This year's team is 0-2 and each time the opponent forced overtime with a last-second 3-pointer.

THREE IS A BAD NUMBER: Fullerton opponents are having some sensational games with the 3-point basket. USF's Dommanic Ingerson made 6 of 7 in the final 11 minutes to lead a Don overtime win, Cal Poly's Dawin Whiten made 6 of 9 to lead a Mustang victory in the Big West opener, CSUN's Mike Efevberha made 8 of his last 9 tries (8 of 11 overall) in a narrow Fullerton win, UCR's Dedrick Bates (1 of 16 on the season) made 4 of 4 and then Long Beach State set a school record by making 14 in 34 attempts.

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.