February 20, 2008

Titans Take 'Break' from Big West Title Chase

Feb. 20, 2008

Fullerton, Calif. -

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UPCOMING:
Sat., Feb. 23 -- ESPNU Bracket Buster, vs. Portland State, Titan Gym (4,000), 7:30 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 28 -- Cal State Northridge, Titan Gym (4,000), 7:05 p.m. - KVMD-TV
Sat., Mar. 1 -- Long Beach State, Titan Gym (4,000), 6:05 p.m.

IN A NUTSHELL: The Titans (17-7, 10-3) take a week off from the frantic Big West Conference race and host an ESPNU BracketBuster game against one of the nation's hottest teams in Portland State (17-8, 10-2). The Vikings have won 8 in a row and can clinch a share of the Big Sky Conference championship with a win Wednesday night at Northern Colorado. Fullerton has won three in a row and seven out of eight.

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. Mike Martinez will call the Portland State game.

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
F 2 Scott Cutley* 6-5 Sr. 14.5 7.7r Big West player of the week; averaged 22 pts., 8 rebs., 5 asts., & 3 steals
F 34 Marcus Morgan* 6-5 Jr. 6.0 6.0r Matched career high with 13 points vs. UoP; had 11 rebounds at Saint Mary's
G 1 Josh Akognon 6-1 Jr. 20.0 3.4r Five 3-point field goals shy of CSF single-season record of 89
G 22 Ray Reed* 5-11 Sr. 4.9 2.0a Averaging 8.3 pts., 6.5 assists in Russell's absence; made 20 of last 34 FGAs
F 5 Frank Robinson** 6-4 Sr. 16.2 6.8r Only 18th Titan to score 1,000 points; now 16th at 1,027

OFF THE BENCH:
C 21 Kenneth Alexander* 6-6 Sr. 3.5 2.3r Career-high 17 pts. off the bench at Southern Utah; solid 15 minutes at CSUN
C 42 Andrew Green* 6-6 Sr. 3.1 2.6r Grabbed 7 rebounds in 20 minutes at UC Riverside
G 11 Marcio Lassiter 6-2 Jr. 3.1 0.5a Career-high 17 points in career-high 25 minutes vs. UCR
C 13 Eddie Lima 6-9 Jr. 1.7 1.3r Has played only 10 minutes over last 19 games

SIDELINED:
G 54 Marcus Crenshaw* 5-10 Jr. 9.9 2.2a Suffered broken nose at Cal Poly; made 3 of 6 treys with mask against Davis
G 15 Junior Russell 5-6 Jr. 6.1 2.6a Suspended indefinitely on Feb. 6 for violation of team rules
*letters earned

SERIES HISTORY: The Titans hold a 3-1 edge in the series with Portland State but the teams have not met since the 1980-81 season, when they played twice. Coach George McQuarn got his first Titan win on Dec. 1, 1980, with an 86-81 home win over the Vikings. Two weeks later, Fullerton dropped a 60-48 decision in Portland. In 1977-78, the Titans won in Portland, 80-62, and in 1978-79, Fullerton beat Portland State, 109-92, in Titan Gym.

BRACKET BUSTER HISTORY: The Titans are 1-3. They beat Eastern Washington in Fullerton on Feb. 18, 2006, 89-63. The next season they returned the game and lost in Cheney, 110-100, and then lost at Wright State on Feb. 17, 2007, 77-62. In this season's return game, Wright State won in Titan Gym, 84-80.

ABOUT THE VIKINGS: The Vikings have won 8 in a row for Coach Ken Bone (67-46 in his fourth year) going into Wednesday night's game at Northern Colorado, where they can clinch a share of the Big Sky Conference championship. It would be only their second title (2004-05). The champion gets to host the post-season tournament. Three players average in double figures -- 5-foot-6 junior guard Jeremiah Dominguez (14.2 ppg), 6-foot-4 senior guard Deonte Huff (12.0 ppg) and 6-foot-11 senior center Scott Morrison (11.3 ppg). The latter is the top rebounder at 6.0 rpg.

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 85-58 in his fifth year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .594, Burton has again edged ahead of Bobby Dye (109-78, .583) as the winningest coach in Titan history. He is the only Fullerton coach with a winning conference record, currently at 43-34 (.558). Dye was 37-37. Burton is facing Portland State for the first time. He is 4-3 vs. the Big Sky (3-1 vs. Eastern Washington; 1-1 vs. Northern Arizona; and 0-1 vs. Sacramento State).

FRIENDLY CONFINES: Under Bob Burton, the Titans are 46-17 (.730) in Titan Gym including 9-2 this season.

THESE 30 ROAD WINS MUCH QUICKER: Under Bob Burton, the Titans have made dramatic strides as a road team. In the past three seasons plus this season to date, they are 36-30 (.545) away from Titan Gym. For the previous 10 seasons (1994-95 thru 2003-04) the combined road record was 30-115 (.207). With a 3-11 mark in his first season (2003-04), Burton's total CSF road record is 39-41 (.488).

NATIONAL STATISTICS: Through games of Feb. 17, Josh Akognon was No. 2 in the nation in free-throw percentage at .936 (No. 1 is Louis Dale of Cornell at .943 -- 83 of 88). Akognon ranked No. 11 in 3-point field goals made per game (3.65) and the Titans as a team ranked No. 10 at 9.4. Marcus Crenshaw was ranked No. 24 in 3-point FG percentage at .438. The Titans are No. 7 in scoring at 83.2 ppg. VMI was the top scoring team at 93.3 ppg and No. 1 in treys at 12.3 per game. David Holston of Chicago State led in treys per game at 4.17 and Josh Mayo of Illinois-Chicago was the top percentage shooter at .519 from behind the arc.

CUTLEY FOR MVP: Senior forward Scott Cutley is arguably the most indispensable Titan. He was selected Big West Conference Player of the Week for his role in wins over UC Davis and Pacific. He averaged 22 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals while shooting 70 percent from the floor including 4 of 5 from 3-point range. His 24 points vs. UoP were a season high and his 5 steals were a career high. His season almost ended before it started. He fractured his ankle on the second day of practice (Oct. 13) but returned to the practice floor six weeks later during Thanksgiving weekend, missing 3 games before coming off the bench at Arizona. Last season he missed only one game despite a broken thumb. He begins this week ranked No. 2 in the Big West in rebounding at 7.7 rpg per game, No. 8 in scoring at 14.5 points per game, No. 7 in assists at 2.86 per game, No. 5 in field goal percentage at .517 and No. 3 in minutes played at 32.71 per game. He posted three consecutive double-doubles vs. Central Michigan, Southern Utah and Montana and just missed a triple-double vs. the Thunderbirds. He is 29-for-40 (.725) at the foul line over the last 9 games. Prior to that he was 26-for-53 (.491). He is 36-of-55 (.655) from the floor in the last 5 games.

AKOGNON LIKES THE TEMPO: Josh Akognon is moving in on Cal State Fullerton's single-season record for 3-point field goals (89 by Don Leary in 1992-93) with 84 in his 23 games (3.65 per game to lead the Big West). He is 25 attempts shy of Bobby Brown's CSF mark of 244 in 2004-05. Akognon has made four or more in a game 13 times with a best of seven on three occasions. The Washington State transfer led the Cougars in scoring in 2005-06 and made just under two treys per game while averaging 10.3 points. He is the Big West leader in free-throw percentage (.936 on 73 of 78) and he is the No. 3 scorer at 20.0 ppg. At Saint Mary's he grabbed a career-high 9 rebounds and he had 7 at Northridge on Feb. 2 and at Cal Poly on Feb. 9. He had a season high of 6 steals vs. UC Davis on Feb. 14. He has scored 30 or more points four times.

ROBINSON HITS 1,000: Frank Robinson became the 18th Titan to score 1,000 career points late in the first half vs. UC Davis on Feb. 14 and now has 1,027 to rank 16th. Next ahead is Mark Hill at 1,040 and then Pape Sow at 1,135. Robinson was selected Big West player of the week on Feb. 4. With 130 3-pointers he is tied for No. 8 on the Titans' career list with Joe Small and Jermaine Harper. Mark Murphy is No. 7 at 133. Since sitting out the Dec. 17 Southern Utah game with an ankle injury, Robinson has played consistently well. He ranks No. 4 in scoring (16.2 ppg) and No. 4 in rebounding (6.8rpg) in the Big West Conference. He's No. 10 in field goal percentage at .464 and No. 10 in treys made per game at 1.87. He's had three double-doubles -- at Central Michigan with 15 points and 10 rebounds; vs. UCI with 17 points and 10 rebounds and at CSUN with 14 points and 10 boards -- and been one rebound shy of three more.

MORGAN SHINES IN TOUGHEST SPOTS: Marcus Morgan has had his best statistical games against the tougher opponents this season. At Arizona he scored 13 points and grabbed 9 rebounds while playing solid defense. At Saint Mary's he had another strong defensive game and had 7 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Against Pacific on Feb. 16 he matched his career high with 13 points (5 of 6 shooting) and had four offensvie rebounds. His biggest play of the year was blocking the potential game-winning layup by Montana's Andrew Strait with one second left in regulation on Dec. 20. He has made 16 of 21 (.762) free throws since going 0-for-5 vs. UC Irvine on Jan. 4. He has had double-digit rebound totals 3 times.

CRENSHAW's ROLE CHANGING DAILY: Junior guard Marcus Crenshaw was scheduled this week for surgery to repair his broken nose but he is expected back next week. The Big West Conference's Sixth Man of the Year in 2006-07 continued to provide an offensive spark off the bench before being thrust into the starting lineup on Feb. 7 due to the suspension of Junior Russell. At UCSB on Feb. 7 he matched his career high with 23 points -- 21 in the second half -- and had 9 early in the second half at Cal Poly when he was hit in the nose and suffered a concussion which sidelined him for the balance of the game. He came off the bench again vs. UC Davis and scored 9 points and had 6 vs. Pacific, all while wearing a protective mask. He ranks as the Titans' No. 4 scorer at 9.9 points per game. He earlier started at Montana and Central Michigan after 31 consecutive appearances off the bench. He also started his first three games as a Titan in November of 2006 when the roster was short three suspended players. With 143 3-point baskets as a Titan, he has moved into the No. 5 spot on the Titans' career list. At No. 4 is Mark Hill (1988-90) with 145. In Big West games, Crenshaw is 14-for-27 (.519) at home shooting treys and 18-for-44 (.409) on the road.

RUSSELL SUSPENDED: Point guard Junior Russell was suspended indefinitely on Feb. 6 for a violation of team rules. He has been a Jekyl-Hyde scorer this season. He has scored 9 or more points 6 times and had 3 or less on 10 occasions. Three times he scored 16 points -- at Central Michigan, vs. Cal Poly and vs. UC Riverside on Jan. 23 when he scored 13 of them in the final five minutes. He had a season-high 5 steals vs. UCSB. He has the best 3-point field goal percentage on the team at .531 (17 of 32). In conference games he is 11-for-18 (.611).

REED STEPS UP: Senior guard Ray Reed has stepped up his play since getting his first start on Jan. 23 in Josh Akognon's absence. He is averaging 7.7 points over the last seven games while shooting .588 (20-for-34) from the floor. He had a season's second-best of 10 points at Cal Poly to go with then season's highs of 7 assists and 25 minutes. As a starter against UC Davis on Feb. 14 he had 10 more points and 6 assists and fueled a 10-0 run which put Fullerton ahead by 12 midway through the second half. Against Pacific on Feb. 16 he had 8 points and 9 assists to tie his career high and fueled a critical 12-0 first-half run. His 6-for-7 effort at the line at Cal Poly was a Titan career best.

MARCIO = OFFENSE: Like Marcus Crenshaw, Marcio Lassiter has provided an offensive spark off the bench. The transfer from San Francisco City College scored 9 points in 11 minutes at Montana, 8 points in 19 minutes vs. Montana and 11 points in 10 minutes vs. Furman. He got a season-high 17 points in a season-high 25 minutes vs. UCR in the absence of Josh Akognon, making 5-of-9 shots, 3-of-6 from the arc.

TITANS LEAD IN BIG WEST ROAD WINS: CSF has 5 -- at Davis, UCR, Long Beach, CSUN and Cal Poly; CSUN has 4 -- at UCSB, Cal Poly, UCR and Davis; UCSB has 4 -- at CSF, Cal Poly, UCR and Davis; UoP has 3 -- at Long Beach, UCSB and Davis; UCI has 2 -- at Long Beach and UCSB; Long Beach has 1 -- at Davis; and Cal Poly has 1 - at UoP. The visiting teams are 20-32 this season.

TAPER OR TAPEE? Cal State Fullerton's men's basketball athletic trainer Mike Martinez was sidelined for the Pacific game after severely spraining his right ankle falling on stairs at home. He is questionable for Saturday's game vs. Portland State. Chris Mumaw filled in for him.

TOUGH FIELD: Cal State Fullerton will represent the Big West Conference in the 2008 Anaheim Classic on Thanksgiving Weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center. The ESPN-televised tourney will feature an even stronger field than the inaugural event of 2007 with Wake Forest, Arkansas, Providence, Arizona State, UTEP, Baylor and UNC-Charlotte signed to join the Titans.

30-POINT VICTORIES: The Titans have won three games by 30 or more points (Southern Utah, Furman and at UC Riverside) this season and nine (one on the road) in Coach Bob Burton's four-plus year tenure. By comparison, predecessors Donny Daniels had one 30-or-more-point win in three seasons, Bob Hawking had four (one on the road) in six seasons, Brad Holland had none in two seasons, John Sneed had one in four seasons, George McQuarn had 10 (one on the road) in eight seasons and Bobby Dye had seven (two on the road) in six seasons. The list of road Div. I era 30-point wins: 101-69 at Cal State Bakersfield on 1/3/76; 87-56 at Cal State Northridge on 11/27/76; 90-60 at Hawaii on 11/27/83; 89-57 at UC Irvine on 1/25/97; and 77-47 at UC Riverside on 1/7/08.

FALL SIGNEES: The Titans signed two incoming players during the November signing period -- Aaron Thompson, a 6-4, 205-pound junior wing from Cerritos College and previously of Washington High School in L.A.; and Jacques Streeter, a 6-foot, 175-pound point guard at Finley Prep School in Las Vegas and previously at Fremont High School in L.A.