January 24, 2007

Titans Can Clinch Winning Season

Jan. 24, 2007

Fullerton, Calif. -

UPCOMING:
Thur., Jan. 25 -- UC Davis, Titan Gym, 7:05 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 27 -- UC Irvine, Titan Gym, 6:05 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 3 -- at UC Riverside, 5:05 p.m.

IN A NUTSHELL: Cal State Fullerton (14-4, 5-2) can clinch its third consecutive winning season with its next victory as it tries to stretch a home-court winning streak that has reached 13 games going back to last season. The Titans host future Big West Conference foe UC Davis and then play a rematch of their last-second 71-68 win on Saturday at UC Irvine. With a win on Thursday, the Titans would be 15-4 for the first time since the 1982-83 team opened up 17-4. With last week's split at Long Beach State and UC Irvine, Fullerton dropped from No. 16 to a No. 18 ranking in the current www.collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.

INTERNET 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. Todd Reeves will be the announcer for the UC Davis and UC Irvine games. INTERNET 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
C 5 Justin Burns** 6-7 Sr. 11.7 7.2r Third in the Big West in rebounding
F 2 Scott Cutley 6-5 Jr. 15.5 9.3r Leads Big West with seven double-doubles including three in a row
G 3 Bobby Brown*** 6-2 Sr. 20.9 5.2a Titans' No. 2 career scorer trails leader Leon Wood by 147 points
G 22 Ray Reed 5-11 Jr. 10.2 3.4a Shooting .533 from the field over the last 9 games
G 0 Frank Robinson* 6-4 Jr. 11.5 5.8r Beat UC Irvine with last-second trey after missing first five tries of game

OFF THE BENCH:
G 54 Marcus Crenshaw 5-10 So. 11.4 2.4a Second to Brown (0.611) in points per minute at 0.522; averaging 2.67 treys
C 42 Andrew Green 6-6 Jr. 4.4 3.2r Had 8 points in 12 minutes vs. UC Riverside; 6 points, 6 boards at UC Irvine
F 43 Chris Minardo 6-10 So. 4.7 2.3r Had 5 points, 4 rebounds in 11 quality minutes at Pepperdine
F 34 Marcus Morgan 6-5 Jr. 2.0 2.6r Started first three games; sidelined by knee problem for three games
F 21 Kenneth Alexander 6-6 Jr. 3.7 3.2r Got first start vs. Bethune-Cookman; 6 rebounds in solid 25 minutes at UCLA
*letters earned

SERIES HISTORIES: Fullerton leads the series with UC Davis, 5-0. The Titans have swept home-and-home games the past two years and also won a 1961-62 meeting bearing the jerseys of their former name -- Orange State College. Fullerton leads the series against UCI, 43-39, after Saturday's 71-68 victory, but Irvine has won 5 of the last 8 meetings and 10 of the last 14. UCI has won its last two games in Titan Gym and five of the last seven. It was UCI which ended the Titans' school record 26-game home-court winning streak on Jan. 26, 1984, with an 81-80 win.

ABOUT THE AGGIES: In their final season before entering the Big West Conference, the Aggies (4-13) recently managed back-to-back wins at UC Santa Barbara and at home vs. Cal State Northridge before losing last time out to Pacific. Coach Gary Stewart (4th year, 41-59) has a veteran lineup led by 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Vince Oliver (13.8 pg) and burly 6-foot-6 senior forward Thomas Juillerat (11.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg).

ABOUT THE ANTEATERS: UC Irvine (9-11, 3-3) plays Thursday night at Long Beach State.

ABOUT THE TITANS: The Titans are one win away from posting their third consecutive winning season, something that hasn't been done in Fullerton since Coach George McQuarn posted four winning records between 1981-82 and 1984-85. They got off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 1989-90 and their 14-4 and 5-2 starts are the best since 1983-84 began the same. The Titans feature three returning "regulars" in seniors Bobby Brown at point guard and Justin Burns at center and junior guard Frank Robinson, who was the Big West Conference's "sixth-man" of the year in 2005-06. Four-year transfers Scott Cutley and Marcus Crenshaw from Kent State and Ray Reed from Georgetown have made an immediate impact along with community college transfers Kenneth Alexander and Marcus Morgan from West Valley, Andrew Green from College of the Sequoias and Chris Minardo from Citrus College. The five starters plus Crenshaw are all averaging in double figures in scoring.

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 62-45 in his fourth year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .579, Burton has the second best winning percentage of any Titans' head coach, trailing only Bobby Dye (109-78, .5829). With a win on Thursday, Burton would edge ahead at .5833. The recent 5-game winning streak matched a similar one in 2004-05 for the best of the Burton Era. He is 4-0 vs. UC Davis, 2-0 in Titan Gym, and 3-4 vs. UC Irvine, 1-2 in Titan Gym.

FRIENDLY CONFINES: Under Coach Bob Burton, the Titans are 34-13 (.723) in Titan Gym and have a 13-game winning streak alive including 9-0 this season. In Big West play they are 3-0 at home, where they were only 2-5 last year.

NEW FRILLS: Not coincidental to the recent home success, a squad of cheerleaders was added to the home court ambience for last season. Along with a flag carrier and a new student band, they join the entertainment package headed by the dance team, which in early January in Orlando, Florida, won its seventh national championship (Div. I, non-football schools).

ON THE ROAD: Under Bob Burton, the Titans have made dramatic strides as a road team. In the past two seasons plus this year to date they are 25-21 away from Titan Gym. In the previous 10 seasons the combined road record was 30-115. Burton's total CSF road record is 28-32.

OUT OF THE BLOCKS: In 14 of their first 16 games, the Titans jumped out to double-digit first-half leads, to wit: 14-2 at 15:24 vs. Cal Maritime; 24-12 at 10:10 vs. Hope; 17-7 at 15:19 at Lafayette; 33-23 at 9:26 at Eastern Washington; 14-3 at 14:43 vs. UTSA; 14-4 at 15:18 at UCLA; 13-2 at 15:42 at Pepperdine; 14-2 at 15:53 vs. Bethune Cookman, 24-14 at 7:41 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette; 16-6 at 12:06 vs. San Jose State; 41-31 at 6:22 at Cal Poly; 29-19 at 5:03 vs. CSUN; 27-17 at 7:01 vs. Pacific and 21-10 at 8:41 vs. UC Riverside. But in the last two games -- as in the previous exceptions at UTSA and at UCSB -- they have fallen behind by double digits at one point of each game. Interestingly, in all four cases they have rallied to at least tie or even lead in the second half.

Bobby Brown: Senior point guard Bobby Brown is the focal point of the Cal State Fullerton program. An unheralded product of Westchester High School in Los Angeles, he has developed into one of the nation's finest players and an All-America candidate. He tested the NBA draft waters last summer but opted to return for his senior year. He has been nominated for the Bob Cousy Award as the nation's top point guard and is on CollegeInsider.com's pre-season Mid-Major All-American team. He has made numerous pre-season All-Big West Conference teams and is projected as player of the year by many. Last year he was first-team All-Big West and second-team All-NABC District.

He needs 148 more points to become the Titans' all-time leading scorer, surpassing All-American, Olympic gold medalist and 6-year NBA veteran Leon Wood. He passed Richard Morton (1,705) last Thursday night at Long Beach. At Pepperdine he passed Greg Bunch and Chris Dade to move into the No. 4 spot on the list and went to No. 3 ahead of Ike Harmon (at 1,557) during the second Louisiana-Lafayette game. Brown was selected Big West Conference player of the week after his 47-point game against Bethune-Cookman, the second highest scoring total in Big West history behind 53 by Raymond Lewis of Cal State L.A. on Feb. 23, 1973, vs. Long Beach State. The 46-year-old school record was 45 points by Jon Brettman vs. Luke Air Force Base on Dec. 12, 1960. The old school Div. I record was 38 by Richard Morton on Jan. 7, 1988, vs. UC Irvine. Eleven 3-point field goals broke the CSF mark of 10 by Ryan Dillon (Jan. 31, 2001, vs. Boise State) and tied the Big West record of Chris Brown of UC Irvine on Mar. 13, 1994, vs. New Mexico State. Bobby Brown had 12 points in the first 4:07 and 17 (of team's first 19) in the first 7:11.

AND MORE: Brown began the week among the Big West leaders in every category except rebounding and blocked shots. He was No. 1 in assists (5.20 apg), No. 1 in 3-point field goals (3.53 per game), No. 2 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.63), No. 2 in scoring (20.9 ppg), No. 3 in steals (1.53 per game), No. 3 in minutes played (34.27 per game), No. 6 in free-throw percentage (.776), No. 4 in 3-point field goal percentage (.457) and No. 5 in field goal percentage (.498). Brown has averaged 18.5 points in four previous games vs. UC Davis.

Frank Robinson: The junior swingman had missed his first five 3-point field goal attempts at UC Irvine Saturday but he picked a judicious time to connect, swishing a 21-footer with one second remaining for a 71-68 victory. In his only previous attempt at a game-winner, he missed a free-throw line jumper with 5 seconds remaining in the first overtime of what became a triple-overtime CSF win at UC Davis on Jan. 28, 2006. Robinson is averaging 12 points in 7 Big West games despite a season-low 3 points at Long Beach State. He just missed a double-double vs. UC Riverside with 15 points and a season-high 9 rebounds. He had a career-high 7 assists vs. Bethune Cookman. He was the key Titan off the bench last year when he was selected the "sixth man" of the year in the Big West Conference. He became a starter for the final three weeks of the season and played to an all-conference level, averaging 16.6 points over the last seven games capped by a 25-point, 12-rebound effort in defeat to Long Beach State in the semifinals of the post-season tournament. For the 2005-06 season, he averaged 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds.

Justin Burns: Senior center is coming off his second to least productive statistical effort of the season -- 4 points and 5 rebounds in 21 minutes of the UCI game. Prior to that he had posted back-to-back double-doubles for the second time this year. He had a brilliant game vs. UC Riverside, getting a double-double in the first half with 15 points and 10 rebounds and finished with 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting and 14 rebounds, just shy of his career highs of 22 points and 16 rebounds. He had 14 points and 10 rebounds at Long Beach. He began the week ranked No. 3 in the Big West in rebounding at 7.2 per game. He won Big West Conference Player of the Week honors in November when he posted his first pair of double-doubles in victories at Texas-San Antonio and Louisiana-Lafayette. He had a career second-best of 21 points vs. Texas-San Antonio. With five double-doubles this season (tied for second best in the Big West), he has moved into the Titans' career Top 12 list with 10.

Scott Cutley: Junior forward from Kent State is playing with a splint on his left hand to protect a fracture to his thumb suffered in practice prior to the Bethune-Cookman game, which he missed. With the splint he has 134 points and 84 rebounds in the last 9 games including three consecutive double-doubles. He had 23 points (9-for-12 FGs) and 10 rebounds at Long Beach despite picking up three first-half fouls. He finally qualified for the Big West Conference leader board by appearing in his 12th game of Fullerton's then 16-game season vs. UCR and began this week ranked No. 1 in rebounding at 9.3 per game and No. 6 in scoring at 15.5 ppg. In the last six games he is 7-for-13 from the 3-point line after starting the year 2-for-13. He broke in with a bang, scoring 31 points with 11 rebounds in his Titan debut at Louisiana-Lafayette on Nov. 24. It was only the 62nd 30-point game by a Titan at the Div. I level. He scored the game-tying buckets in the final minute of both regulation and overtime. He leads the Big West in double-doubles with seven and twice came within a single rebound of two more.

RAY REED: Georgetown transfer Ray Reed leads the Titans and the Big West Conference in steals (2.17) and is second on the team and sixth in the conference in assists (3.50 apg). He was in double figures in scoring in each of the first five games but then went five games in single digits until a 15-point effort vs. San Jose State. He made only 1 of 11 field goals at Pepperdine but since then is 32-for-60 (.533) over the past 9 games. He just missed a triple-double against Hope International when he had 23 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists. He has attempted at least one free throw in every game except at UCLA.

Marcus Crenshaw: Sophomore transfer from Kent State is a leading candidate for the Big West Conference's "sixth man" award. Since starting the first 3 games in a roster shortage and averaging 18 points, he has come off the bench to average 10.1 as a substitute, usually in bunches. At UCI he scored all 10 of his points in a span of 4:05 to fuel a second-half 14-6 CSF run. Against UCR he scored 17 points in 18 minutes. He had 19 points in 18 minutes vs. San Jose State and 15 points in 20 minutes vs. Cal State Northridge. He is second on the team and in the Big West in 3-point field goals made at 2.67 per game. His .397 percentage was No. 10 in the conference to start the week. He is on pace to make 77 in a 29-game schedule which would be the third-best single-season total in CSF history. His total of 44 assists is No. 3 on the team. He has scored 0.522 points per minute played, second best on team.

LIVING RIGHT: Twice this season the Titans have survived 3-point field goal tries by opponents at the buzzer that would have turned CSF victories into defeat. And both times it was the opponent's leading scorer -- Ross Mouton at Louisiana-Lafayette and Marvin Lea at Pepperdine -- taking the shot. Ironically, in both games, the Titans led by 18 in the first half -- 29-11 at ULaLa and 30-12 at Pepperdine. Conversely, thanks to Frank Robinson on Saturday, the Titans are 1-0 when they have the last-gasp chance.

CONNECTING FROM LONG DISTANCE: Despite making only 12 3-point field goals in 38 tries last week, the Titans still lead the Big West in 3-pointers made (8.78 pg) and percentage (.385). They are on a pace to make 254 treys in 660 attempts in a 29-game season. The "makes" would be a school record (current mark is 253 in 2004-05) while the attempts would still fall shy of the 716 atempted in a 32-game schedule in 2004-05. The Titans set a school record by attempting 33 treys on Jan. 4 vs. Cal State Northridge and tied the single-game mark for makes with 14 at Cal Poly on Dec. 28.

FREE THROW IRREGULARITIES: Free throw shooting has suddenly become a problem for the Titans. After 13 games they were shooting .714 (190 of 266) as a team. In the last five games they have made only 57 of 106 (.538) despite making their final 13 in a row at Long Beach State. They have shot under 50 percent vs. Northridge, UCR and UC Irvine.

BRACKET BUSTER: The schedule for the ESPNU Bracket Buster games of Feb. 17 will be announced on that network at 3 p.m. PST on Monday, Jan. 29. Fullerton is a designated travel team after hosting Eastern Washington last season.

ONLY ONE NEW STOP: Lafayette, Louisiana, with its Cajundome was the only stop on the Titans' basketball itinerary this year where the Titans have not previously competed. (Pending the ESPNU Bracket Buster assignment for Feb. 17). Conversely, three new opponents visited Titan Gym -- California Maritime, Bethune-Cookman and Louisiana-Lafayette.

RECORDS ARE FALLING: While the 2004-05 team dramatically changed the direction of the Cal State Fullerton men's basketball program, the current edition has found a way to make some history of its own in addition to the best overall and conference records in 23 years. To wit:
&\#149; largest margin of victory in a conference game (40 points -- 98-58 vs. UC Riverside on Jan. 13)
&\#149; tied largest margin of victory for any game (52 points -- 108-56 vs. California Maritime on Nov. 10)
&\#149; most 3-point field goals attempted (33 -- vs. Cal State Northridge on Jan. 4)
&\#149; tied record for most 3-point field goals made (14 -- at Cal Poly on Dec. 28)
&\#149; most points in a losing effort (110-100 loss at Eastern Washington on Nov. 27)
&\#149; individual points in a game (47 -- by Bobby Brown vs. Bethune-Cookman on Dec. 16)
&\#149; most 3-point field goals in a game by an individual (11 -- by Bobby Brown vs. Bethune-Cookman on Dec. 16)
&\#149; handed Louisiana-Lafayette its first home non-conference loss in four years, ending a 17-game win streak in the Cajundome