December 19, 2006

Titans Go for Sweep of Ragin' Cajuns

Dec. 19, 2006

Fullerton, CA -

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UPCOMING:
Wed., Dec. 20 -- Louisiana-Lafayette, Titan Gym, 7:05 p.m.
(second half of doubleheader with women vs. Cal State Bakersfield at 4:30 p.m.)
Sat., Dec. 23 - San Jose State, Titan Gym, 2:05 p.m.
Thur., Dec. 28 -- at Cal Poly SLO, Mott Gym, 7 p.m.

IN A NUTSHELL: Cal State Fullerton (7-2) tries to complete its second series sweep of the young season when the Titans host Louisiana-Lafayette, which it defeated in Cajun Country, 91-89 in overtime, on Nov. 24. Fullerton, which earlier swept Texas-San Antonio home and home, is off to its best start since the 1996-97 team opened 7-2 before losing game No. 10. The last Titan team to go 8-2 was in 1990-91. The Titans are anxiously awaiting to see the effectiveness of forward Scott Cutley, who was cleared Monday to play with a fractured left thumb.

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. Justin Alderson will be at the microphone for the Louisiana-Lafayette 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
C 5 Justin Burns** 6-7 Sr. 11.3 7.4r Three double-doubles, but none in last five games
F 21 Kenneth Alexander 6-6 Jr. 5.5 4.4r Got first start vs. Bethune-Cookman; 6 rebounds in solid 25 minutes at UCLA
G 3 Bobby Brown*** 6-2 Sr. 22.7 3.2a After 47 points vs. BCC, needs only 7 to become CSF's No. 3 career scorer
G 22 Ray Reed 5-11 Jr. 11.6 4.4a Leading Big West Conference in steals (2.89) and assists (4.44)
G 0 Frank Robinson* 6-4 Jr. 12.0 5.3r Career-high 7 assists vs. BCC; only 4-for-19 from behind arc in last 4 games
OFF THE BENCH:
G 54 Marcus Crenshaw 5-10 So. 11.1 2.7a Second on team with 20 3-point field goals (in 60 tries, .333)
F 43 Chris Minardo 6-10 So. 6.3 3.3r Had 5 points, 4 rebounds in 11 quality minutes at Pepperdine
C 42 Andrew Green 6-6 Jr. 4.9 3.9r Leads team in rebounds per minutes played; 6 points, 5 boards vs. BCC
QUESTIONABLE:
F 2 Scott Cutley 6-5 Jr. 16.6 9.2r Broke left thumb in practice but able to play; had 31 vs. Louisiana in debut F 34 Marcus Morgan 6-5 Jr. 3.3 3.7r Started first three games; sidelined by knee problem *letters earned

SERIES HISTORY: The teams met for the first time on Nov. 24 in Lafayette where the Titans won in overtime, 91-89.

ABOUT THE RAGIN' CAJUNS: Since losing at home to CSF, they are 1-5 including three home losses (two to nationally ranked Tennessee and Nevada). Lone victory in that stretch came vs. Louisiana Tech, 65-60, on Dec. 2. One-two offensive punch of David Dees (20.4 ppg) and Ross Mouton (19.1 ppg) had 64 of 89 points in first meeting vs. CSF. Team shooting only 28 percent from 3-point range, 42 percent from floor.

ABOUT THE TITANS: The Titans are trying to post 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.

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. Six different players (Minardo, Reed, Crenshaw, Cutley, Brown and Burns) led or shared the lead in scoring in the first six games, but Brown has been the co-leader or leader in each of the last five.

THE COACH: Bob Burton is 55-43 in his fourth year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .561, Burton has the second best winning percentage of any Titans' head coach, trailing only Bobby Dye (109-78, .583). He is 1-0 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette..

FRIENDLY CONFINES: Under Coach Bob Burton, the Titans are 29-13 (.690) in Titan Gym and have an 8-game winning streak alive.

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 six-time national champion dance team.

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 23-19 away from Titan Gym. In the previous 10 seasons the combined road record was 30-115. Burton's total CSF road record is 26-30.

LIVING GOOD: 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.

FAST STARTS: With the exception of the Nov. 22 game at Texas-San Antonio (where they fell behind 19-7 at 11:36), the Titans have jumped out to early double-digit leads in every other game, 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 and 14-2 at 15:53 vs. Bethune Cookman.

BOBBY FOCAL POINT: 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 326 more points this season to become the Titans' all-time leading scorer, surpassing All-American, Olympic gold medalist and 6-year NBA veteran Leon Wood. At Pepperdine he passed Greg Bunch and Chris Dade to move into the No. 4 spot on the list. Just ahead is Ike Harmon at 1,557 after Bobby's 47-point game vs. Bethune-Cookman improved his total to 1,551. Brown was selected Big West Conference player of the week after second highest scoring total in Big West history, surpassed only by 53 by Raymond Lewis of Cal State L.A. on Feb. 23, 1973, vs. Long Beach State. The 47-year-old school record was 45 points by Jon Brettman vs. Luke Air Force Base on Dec. 12, 1960. Old school Div. I record was 38 by Richard Morton on Jan. 7, 1988, vs. UC Irvine. Eleven 3-point field goals broke CSF mark of 10 by Ryan Dillon (Jan. 31, 2001, vs. Boise State) and tied Big West record of Chris Brown of UC Irvine on Mar. 13, 1994, vs. New Mexico State. Brown had 12 points in first 4:07 and 17 (of team's first 19) in first 7:11.

SUPER SUB: Junior Frank Robinson 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. Overall, he averaged 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds and was No. 3 in the conference in 3-point field goal accuracy at .445 (49 of 110). He also led the conference in steals at 1.66 per game. This year he scored 16 points in each of his first two games but has totaled only 40 in the last four, making only 4 of 19 from 3-point range. He had a career-high 7 assists vs. Bethune Cookman.

BURNS' NUMBERS DOWN SINCE AWARD: Senior Justin Burns was held scoreless vs. Bethune Cookman and had no rebounds a UCLA. Since winning Big West Conference Player of the Week honor a few weeks ago when he posted a pair of double-doubles in victories at Texas-San Antonio and Louisiana-Lafayette, he is averaging 10.0 points and 4.8 rebounds. He had a career second-best of 21 points vs. Texas-San Antonio and 15 at Pepperdine. With three double-doubles this season, he has moved into the Titans' career Top 12 list with 8. He begins the week ranked No. 3 in rebounding in the Big West.

Scott Cutley: Kent State transfer Scott Cutley has been cleared to play this week after suffering a fractured left (non-shooting) thumb in practice late last week that caused him to miss the Bethune-Cookman game. He broke in with a bang, scoring 31 points with 11 rebounds in his Titan debut at Louisiana-Lafayette. 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 came back with 19 points at Eastern Washington and a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards vs. Texas-San Antonio. At UCLA he led the team with 7 rebounds and had 11 points, all in the first half. He then had a career-high 15 rebounds to go with 10 points for another double-double at Pepperdine.

RAY REED: Georgetown transfer Ray Reed leads the Titans and the Big West Conference in assists (4.44) and steals (2.89) through the first nine games. His scoring has fallen off with a total of only 18 points in the last 4 games after five consecutive games in double figures. He made only 1 of 11 field goals at Pepperdine and was 4-for-23 in the 3 games prior to a 3-for-4 effort vs. Bethune-Cookman. He just missed a triple-double against Hope International when he had 23 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists.

Marcus Crenshaw: He started the first three games and averaged 18 points. Playing considerably less minutes, he has averaged 7.7 points in the last six games. He is second on the team with 20 3-point field goals and his total of 24 assists is No. 2.

FALLBACK, BABY: The Titans attempted 29 3-point field goals at Pepperdine, equalling the high for the Coach Bob Burton Era at Fullerton. The school record is 31 attempts and four times there have been 30 attempts. This season the Titans have averaged 21.6 attempts per game. The 13 they made (11 by Bobby Brown) has been surpassed only twice in CSF history -- 14 on two occasions.

WESTCHESTER CONNECTION: Westchester High School, one of California's most successful prep basketball programs in recent times, leaves a lot of flavor on the Titans' roster. Current players Bobby Brown, Scott Cutley and Jarrel Lake all played there while Titan Assistant Coach Marlon Morton was on the WHS staff. Last year's team had two more former Comets in Jerard Moret (who transferred to West L.A. College) and John Clemmons (eligibility expired).

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. Conversely, three new opponents are visiting Titan Gym -- California Maritime, Bethune-Cookman and Louisiana-Lafayette.

SURVEY SAYS: Cal State Fullerton was a consensus third-place prediction at the annual Big West Conference Basketball Media Day on Oct. 25. Both the media and coaches polls had Fullerton behind Pacific and Long Beach State.