2010-11 Basketball Preview

Coach Bob Burton's greatest success with Cal State Fullerton basketball has come with small, quick and good shooting teams and that's what he thinks he has for the 2010-11 season. Partly by default.

Suddenly, the shoe is on the other foot for a program that has relied heavily on Div. I transfers over the years. Two under- classmen starters opted for "greener pastures," leaving only four returning players from last year's third-place Big West Conference team that finished 16-15 overall.

"The big hit (figuratively and literally) was losing Bryce Webster, who is looking to play professionally overseas," said Burton of the 6-foot-10, 240-pound center who started 30 of 31 games in 2009-10 and averaged about 7 points and 5 rebounds. "He would have been a fifth-year senior. And his decision came late in the summer."

The more heralded player who left is point guard Jacques Streeter, who started every game for the past two seasons, but that departure to UTEP came in the Spring and Burton is much more comfortable with his replacements.

"We have three guys who are all capable of playing the point and playing it well," said Burton of junior Perry Webster from Saddleback College, freshman Isiah "Zeke" Umipig from Federal Way, Washington, and senior letterman Eric Williams. "We have so much depth there, we are as strong as we've been since Bobby Brown's days.

"Perry is going to be a terrific point guard for us. He's a leader and a winner and has all the attributes you want in a point guard. The returning guys already love playing with him.

"Zeke is going to be great. He has the ability to follow in the lines of some of the great point guards Fullerton has had. He's a player who can also score and will play the two-guard slot when he's not at the point.

"Eric didn't play a lot of minutes behind Jacques last year, but he was usually in there at the end of the games because of his skills with the ball.

"We are looking at an offense in the traditional sense of two guards, not just a point guard and wings. In fact, the skill level on this team is the best we've had in terms of shooting ability and handling the ball. Last year we were more athletic but we either scored or had a turnover. We have to find a way to get the best players on the floor at the same time.    We will not be so ingrained in a 'system'."

Other regulars in the backcourt figure to be senior letterman Devon Peltier and community college transfers Roger Guardia from Cuesta and Orlando Brown from Connors State in Oklahoma. Peltier usually came off the bench but led the team with 76 3-point field goals (42 percent) while averaging 10.1 points. Guardia is a 25-year-old Spaniard who was a unanimous MVP of the Western State Conference last season when he averaged 16 points and 6.5 rebounds to earn all-state honors and lead Cuesta (26-6) to post-season play for the first time in a decade. Brown averaged 12 points last season and enjoyed a 58-13 record and a pair of conference titles in his two years with the Cowboys.

"We know Devon can shoot it," said Burton. "Guardia will have only one year of eligibility because of his age, but he can shoot it and pass it. We'll have to see about the adjustment from JC ball, but he is mature. Brown could play the point guard, too. He is very talented."

The depth down low in the wake of Bryce Webster's departure is Burton's main concern.

"Jer'Vaughn Johnson and Andre Hardy (both 6-foot-6) are strong, smart, tough guys who can play down low," said Burton of his honorable mention all-conference forward and transfer from Oral Roberts. "(New Mexico Military Institute transfer) Sedric Martin (6-6, 255) is a legitimate low block guy. And (returning letterman) Orane Chin (6-7) will play a lot at the '4' spot, moving from the '3' as Gerard Anderson did last year. It's an experiment that worked for Gerard, who became a first-team all-conference player.

"We were able to sign Steve Jurich (6-foot-7, 230) from Scottsdale Community College very late in the summer when Sean Williams left school. We really needed someone with size. He played in some pickup games with our other players and they were impressed. He can shoot it and set picks and play defense. He's smart. He's a great late addition.

"We could be susceptible to fouls and, of course, injuries. We could be really small."

Burton's 2005 NIT quarterfinalists started a front line at 6-foot-7, 6-4 and 6-4 after a mid-season injury and his 2008 NCAA team went 6-5, 6-5 and 6-4 up front.

"I'm really excited about coaching this group," said Burton. "They have the best skill and intelligence levels we've had. I think our fans will like the effort. It will be a case of adjusting to all the new faces on the floor."

The Titans of 2010-11 will benefit from practicing against a strong team of redshirts who will be eligible in 2011-12. Three significant Div. I transfers arrived during the Spring and Summer in the persons of 6-7 Omondi Amoke and 6-4 D. J. Seeley from UC Berkeley and 6-3 Kwame Vaughn from USF.

Burton doesn't see the kind of balance that there was in the Big West Conference last season.

"I think Long Beach, UC Santa Barbara and Pacific have separated from the group," he said. "And UC Davis is close. It will be another dogfight."