Titans Back in Action at San Jose State

Dec. 16, 2005

San Jose, Calif. -

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UPCOMING: Wed., Dec. 21 - at San Jose State, Event Center, 7 p.m. PST at Florida International University Holiday Classic, Miami, Florida Tues., Dec. 27 - vs. Texas-San Antonio, 6 p.m. EST Wed., Dec. 28 - vs. St. Bonaventure or Florida International, 6 or 8 p.m. EST Mon., Jan. 2 - vs. Cal Poly SLO, Titan Gym, 7:05 p.m. PST

IN A NUTSHELL: Cal State Fullerton is 4-2 as it prepares for its fifth game in a seven-game swing away from Titan Gym. The Titans are coming off final exams and a disappointing overtime loss at San Francisco in the championship game of the USF Invitational on Dec. 10. They relinquished a late 19-point lead to lose to the Dons in overtime. It was the third time in four games the Titans squandered a large double-digit lead in the second half but the first time it cost them a win.

ABOUT THE SPARTANS: San Jose State is 4-5 going into a Dec. 17 home game vs. Drake for first-year Coach George Nessman, who was an assistant last year at Cal and previously was a head coach at Porterville and Bakersfield Community Colleges. Demetrius Brown is the leading scorer at 14.0 ppg but is sidelined indefinitely with a health problem. SJSU shoots only 28 percent from the 3-point line. San Jose is 2-2 vs. the Big West Conference with a home win over Cal Poly and a road win at Long Beach State to go with losses at Pacific and UC Irvine.

"RADIO": Justin Alderson begins a 9-game radio package at San Jose State, broadcasting on KSPA (1510 AM). He also will broadcast all road Big West Conference games plus the Jan. 28 non-conference game at UC Davis. All 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.

PROBABLE STARTERS:
No. Name Ht. Yr. ppg rpg
F 1 Jamaal Brown* 6-7 Sr. 22.0 9.0
Back-to-back career highs at USF with 30 and 36-point games
C 5 Justin Burns* 6-6 Jr. 7.3 6.2
Gutty 13-oint, 7-rebound effort vs. Chicago State with abdominal injury
G 3 Bobby Brown ** 6-1 Jr. 16.3 2.8
Personal 10-0 run vs. Pepperdine was decisive stretch in win over Waves
G 23 Vershan Cottrell* 6-2 Sr. 5.8 3.7
More than doubled career high with team-leading 15 points at Kansas State
G 14 Jermaine Harper* 6-3 Sr. 5.5 2.0
Still coming back after a cyst was removed from behind his knee

OFF THE BENCH:
G 0 Frank Robinson 6-4 So. 10.5 5.2
Transfer from East Carolina coming off redshirt year
G 22 John Clemmons* 6-0 Sr. 0.4 1.0
Missed Kansas State game due to illness
G 33 Jerard Moret 6-4 Fr. 6.2 5.0
Mature true freshman from Westchester High School
C 34 Gary Nunez 6-7 Jr. 4.4 2.0
Most Valuable Player of the Western State Conference North last season
C 15 Curtis Battles 6-10 Jr. 3.7 1.7
Scored 7 points in final 2 minutes at Kansas State
C 52 Manny Montano 6-10 Jr. 2.3 1.3
Palomar College transfer known for shot blocking abilities
*letters earned

SERIES HISTORIES: This will be the first meeting between Cal State Fullerton and San Jose State since 1999-2000 and only the third since the Spartans left the Big West Conference after the1995-96 season. The series is tied at 24 wins each but the Spartans have won four of the lasat five and seven of the last nine meetings.

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 36-30 in his third year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .545, Burton has the second best winning percentage of any Titans' head coach, trailing only Bobby Dye (109-78, .583). At 19-17, Burton has the only winning record in conference play among all Titan head coaches. Burton, head coach for 21 seasons at West Valley College in nearby Saratoga, California, will match wits against another California community college veteran in San Jose State's George Nessman, who coached at both Porterville and Bakersfield Colleges.

DEEPER ROSTER PICTURE: A year ago the Titans took only nine able players on their first road trip due to injuries and first semester ineligibility. This year there are 15 eligible players after junior center Adam Trancredi quit the program this week. A total of 13 players have seen action. True freshmen Jarrel Lake and Mike Danielian and sophomore Chris Minardo have not suited up and are redshirt candidates.

THE HYPE: The Titans are the favorites -- for the first time in anyone's recollection -- to win the conference championship. They've won only one in the past and that was a co-title in 1975-76 when there were only six teams in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association. The Titans also bear the burden of being picked as one of the 65 teams in the NCAA Tournament by Sports Illustrated and ESPN.com and are the conference champion favorite by Athlon, Lindy's and The Sporting News publications. They are picked for second by Street & Smith behind Pacific.

EARLY TRENDS: The Titans have not established a true trademark yet this season. They remain uptempo but have relied on Jamaal Brown in the paint for more scoring this season. They are plus 8.5 rebounds per game but have been hurt inside when Jamaal Brown or Justin Burns are out of the lineup, particularly in the losses at Kansas State and USF. Their field-goal defense percentage is a solid .421 but defensive lapses have allowed opponents to climb back from large double-digit deficits (South Dakota State went from 22 down to 7 down, Chicago State went from 18 down to 4 down and USF went from 19 down to a 2-point victory). Perimeter shooting has been erratic with Jermaine Harper struggling at 23 percent but Frank Robinson (40 percent), Vershan Cottrell (40 percent) and Jerard Moret (37.5 percent) picking up the slack to help Bobby Brown (36.8 percent) compile the team's 35.6 percent performance. Free-throw shooting has been spotty (64.5 percent) with Bobby Brown, a career 84 percenter, struggling at 10 of 17 (59 percent).

THE BROWNS DELIVER: Senior Jamaal (22.0 ppg) and junior Bobby (16.3 ppg) have scored 47 percent of the Titans' points this year. Jamaal leads the team (and the Big West Conference) in rebounding at 9.0 per game and Brown leads the team in assists (5.5 per game) to rank second in the Big West. Both made the all-tournament team at San Francisco.

JAMAAL ON A ROLL: Senior Jamaal Brown became only the second Titan (Leon Wood 35 vs. McNeese State, 11/25/83, and 34 at Hawaii, 11/27/83) to post back-to-back 30-point games with 30 vs. Chicago State and 36 at USF last weekend. 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 Saturday night. Brown has had only one double-double (30 points, 13 rebounds vs. Chicago State) but would be averaging a double-double with 6 more rebounds.

BOBBY FOCAL POINT: Junior point guard Bobby Brown is drawing more attention from opposing defenses as well as NBA scouts while trying to exert more leadership as the team's only two-year letterman. His shooting percentage and assist averages are up slightly over his career marks while his free-throw shooting percentage is down and his turnover rate is up. His 3-point shooting is on par (.368 vs. career mark of .372) and he needs only 23 more treys to break Chris Dade's school career record of 191. He took over the Pepperdine game down the stretch, scoring 10 unanswered points to turn a 4-point deficit into a 6-point lead.

SUPER SUB: Sophomore Frank Robinson has been the key Titan off the bench. He is the No. 3 scorer at 10.5 points per game, the No. 3 rebounder at 5.2 per game and is shooting 40 percent from 3-point range and a team-best 81 percent from the foul line. 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.

TANCREDI QUITS: Junior center Adam Tancredi quit the team after the USF Invitational because he had lost his desire. The transfer from Quinnipiac played well at South Dakota State (6 points, 9 rebounds in 20 minutes) but struggled against Kansas State and Chicago State with 4 fouls and 4 turnovers in 21 minutes to go with 3 points and 4 rebounds.

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, Scott Cutley, Jarrel Lake and Jerard Moret all played for the Comets.

TOURNEY HISTORY: The Florida International Tournament will be Fullerton's 27th regular season tournament at the Div. I level, the second this year but only the fourth since the 1994-95 season. In 2002-03, Fullerton opened the season 0-2 at the Hawaiian Airlines Tipoff Classic in Honolulu. Last year it opened the season 1-1 at the Mohegan Sun Classic in New Britain, Connecticut. Fullerton has gone undefeated in seven tourneys and winless in only three. The last tournament the Titans won was the Cougar Classic at BYU in 1986-87 with wins over TCU and BYU.

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 15 on the road. The Titans do not have a home game between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, making trips to South Dakota/Kansas, San Francisco, San Jose and Miami.

FRIENDLY CONFINES: Under Coach Bob Burton, the Titans are 20-8 (.714) in Titan Gym, posting the first consecutive winning seasons at home since 1997-98 and 1998-99. Last year's team was 10-2, losing only to UC Irvine and Pacific. Going back to the 2003-04 season, they have won 17 of their last 20 home games.

NEW FRILLS: Not coincidental to the recent home success, a squad of cheerleaders has been added to the home court ambience. Along with a flag carrier and a new student band, they join the entertainment package headed by the five-time national champion dance team, which had to settle for a second-place ranking last season.

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.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Titans have not had consecutive winning seasons since 1983-84 and 1984-85, both 17-13 marks under Coach George McQuarn.

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?: Six 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. Drew Awad remains hospitalized after a reoccurrence of the cancer which forced him to drop out of school last December.