March 17, 2008

Repeat of 1978 Magic Titans' Goal in Omaha

March 17, 2008

Omaha, Nebraska -

UPCOMING:
Thurs., Mar. 20 -- at NCAA Tournament - First/Second Rounds of Midwest Regional, Qwest Arena, Omaha, Nebraska - seeded No. 14

vs. No. 3-seeded Wisconsin (29-4, Big Ten Champion) at approximately 8:30 p.m. CDT

winner plays No. 6 USC-No. 11 Kansas State (6:10 p.m. CDT) winner on Sat., Mar. 22, at 3:20 p.m. CDT

Complete Release and Statistics in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

IN A NUTSHELL: Thirty years after a surprising run to within a basket of the Final Four in their first NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament appearance, the Cal State Fullerton Titans return to the NCAA bracket and to a city where they have had great success in baseball, winning four national championships. At 24-8, the Titans have posted the best record in the school's Div. I history (since 1974-75; went 24-7 in 1961-62 at the NAIA level) capped by a 3-0 run through the Big West Conference Post-Season Tournament at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena.

GOOD 30th ANNIVERSARY VIBES: Parallels between the 1978 Titan NCAA team and this year's squad:

Both were No. 3 seeds in the conference tournament

Both went into the tournament with 8 losses

Both went into the tourney on a 3-game winning streak

Each featured the school's only conference players (co-) of the year in senior forwards Greg Bunch (1976) and Scott Cutley

Both Coach Bobby Dye and Coach Bob Burton were in their fifth season at Fullerton

Both revolved around a 6-man rotation -- Bunch, Anderson, Niles, Heenan, Shaw & Linden; Cutley, Robinson, Akognon, Reed, Morgan & Crenshaw

Both teams played and defeated Cal State Los Angeles, an opponent the Titans did not see in the intervening 29 seasons

WHAT'S CHANGED?: In 1978...

...the NCAA tournament consisted of 32 teams and it was the first year of a partial seeding process with four teams seeded in each of the four regions. NCAA Productions televised the early games with NBC doing the four regional championship games and selected games

...there was no shot clock nor 3-point basket

...there were no around-the-clock ESPN highlights

...there were no blogs or websites or cell phones or much of a need for alkaline batteries

...CSF campus enrollment was around 22,500 -- now it's 37,000, making CSF the second largest school in California behind UCLA

...the median price of a single-family home in Orange County was about \$75,000... today, even with the housing crisis, it's

more than \$500,000... and the price of gasoline... let's not go there!

WHAT HAPPENED IN 1978?:
The "Cal State Who?" Titans upset Michael Cooper's No. 4-ranked New Mexico team in Tempe, Arizona, 90-85; then upset Bill Cartwright's No. 20-ranked USF team in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 75-72, to gain the West Regional finals vs. No. 4-ranked Arkansas, which had upset No. 2-ranked UCLA. Fullerton had the ball for the last shot, trailing a Sidney Moncrief, Marvin Delph & Ron Brewer-led squad 59-58. Keith Anderson faked a shot, tried to dribble into the key and lost the ball (no whistle?). Two ensuing free throws made the final score 61-58 to send Coach Eddie Sutton's Razorbacks to the Final Four.

SINCE THEN:
Fullerton has made it to the conference tournament finals only three times, losing in 1982 to Fresno State and in 1985 to UNLV before Saturday night's 81-66 win over rival UC Irvine. There have been three post-season NIT berths: 0-1 in 1983, 0-1 in 1987 and 2-1 in 2005.

OTHER MAJOR 2008 ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
This is the first time Fullerton has won 20 games in back-to-back seasons. Fullerton has posted four consecutive winning seasons for the first time since George McQuarn's teams did it in 1981-82 thru 1984-85 and matched that team for the school's best conference record (12-4). The Titans at 9-5 (13-5 including neutral) have posted their fourth consecutive season of .500 or better play on the road. Only the 2004-05 team also won nine games on hostile courts in a single season. The Titans have broken the school single-season records for points (2,644; currently an 82.6 ppg average); steals (287) and 3-point field goals (278).

THE COACH:
Bob Burton is 92-59 in his fifth season at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .609, he has moved 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 45-35 (.563). Dye was 37-37. Burton was selected the NABC District 15 Coach of the Year. He was a community college head coach in northern California for 21 years (488-158, .755) and also served a pair of one-season stints as an assistant coach at Utah (1986-87) and Fresno State (2002-03). Burton is now 6-4 in Big West Conference Tournaments and this is his debut in the NCAA Tournament.

PROBABLE STARTERS:
No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg r/apg Quick Notes
F 2 Scott Cutley* 6-5 Sr. 14.8 7.6r Only second CSF player tabbed conference co-player of the year
F 34 Marcus Morgan* 6-5 Jr. 5.9 6.3r Had first career double-double in BWC title game wih 10 points, 11 rebounds
G 1 Josh Akognon 5-11 Jr. 19.9 3.2r Selected second team All-District 15 by NABC; BWC Tourney MVP
G 22 Ray Reed* 5-11 Sr. 6.4 2.6a Averaging 10.7 points and 5.1 assists as a starter over last 10 games
F 5 Frank Robinson** 6-4 Sr. 16.0 7.0r 18th Titan to score 1,000 points & 10th w/500 boards; 2nd team All-BWC

OFF THE BENCH:
G 54 Marcus Crenshaw* 5-10 Jr. 8.9 2.2a Offensive spark plug off bench shooting .420 from 3-point line
C 21 Kenneth Alexander* 6-6 Sr. 3.1 2.3r 8 points, 9 rebounds vs. Cal State Northridge in Big West semifinals
C 42 Andrew Green* 6-6 Sr. 3.1 2.5r Grabbed 7 rebounds in 20 minutes at UC Riverside
G 11 Marcio Lassiter 6-2 Jr. 3.5 0.6a Career-high 17 points in career-high 25 minutes vs. UC Riverside
C 13 Eddie Lima 6-9 Jr. 1.7 1.2r Has played only 12 minutes since November
G 15 Junior Russell 5-6 Jr. 6.1 2.6a Suspended indefinitely on Feb. 6 for violation of team rules; reinstated Mar. 3
*previous CSF letters earned

THE SCHOOL NAME: Officially, it's California State University, Fullerton. It's known to more than 100,000 alumni as simply Cal State Fullerton with no hyphens or commas, thank you. It was founded in 1957 with the first classes held in 1959 so this has been the 50th anniversary year. The nickname Titans was chosen by a vote of the students (edging Aardvarks, among others) and the elephant mascot developed after an intercollegiate race of real elephants was run on the campus, which is situated about 8 miles due north of Disneyland or 25 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. Fullerton's population is more than 125,000 and Orange County is now more than 3 million strong.

TEAM OF TRANSFERS: All 11 Cal State Fullerton players transferred from another college -- five from Div. I schools and six community colleges (and one of those -- Andrew Green -- started at Boise State. Ray Reed's former Georgetown team, Josh Akognon's former Washington State team, Green's former Boise State team and Scott Cutley and Marcus Crenshaw's former Kent State teammates also are in the 65-team field. Only Frank Robinson's former East Carolina mates will be home watching.

BURTON TAKES WINNING WAYS ON THE ROAD: 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 41-30 (.577) away from Titan Gym (9-5 on neutral floors) with a "hostile court" mark of 32-25 -- 9-7 in 2004-05; 7-6 in 2005-06; 7-7 last season and 9-5 this year. For the previous 10 seasons (1994-95 thru 2003-04) the combined road (including neutral) record was 30-115 (.207). With a 3-11 mark in his first season (2003-04), Burton's total CSF away record is 44-41 (.518).

NATIONAL STATISTICS: Through games of Mar. 13, Josh Akognon was No. 4 in the nation in free-throw percentage at .921 and No. 11 in 3-point field goals made per game (3.58). The Titans as a team ranked No. 25 at 8.8 treys per game. The Titans were No. 5 in team scoring at 82.7 ppg.

LET'S GET PHYSICAL: The Titans lost only two Big West Conference games at home in similar fashion. Against both UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge they were fouled extensively -- UCSB committed 20 fouls and CSUN committed 24. The result was a lot of free throw opportunities -- 25-of-31 vs. UCSB and 25-of-37 (season high attempts) vs. CSUN -- but also two of the worst 3-point shooting nights of the season for Fullerton -- 5 of 22 (.227) vs. UCSB and 3 of 22 (.136) vs. CSUN. The only other time Fullerton shot less than .200 behind the arc was at Northridge -- 4-of-24 (.167) when they shot 24-of-30 free throws in a winning effort (CSUN made only 7 of 25 treys). The only other game with more than 30 free throw attempts was in another physical game at Central Michigan, making only 6 of 21 (.286) treys in another defeat.

SURVEY SAYS: Cal State Fullerton was a consensus third-place prediction at the annual Big West Conference Basketball Media Day on Oct. 24 behind UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly SLO. The Titans were third in the media poll and tied for third with Pacific in the coaches poll.

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.

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. The Titans lose six seniors off the current roster. There are two redshirts in the program in 7-foot-2 junior-to-be Adam Thomas and 6-foot-6 junior-to-be forward Gerard Anderson.