Fullerton would figure to struggle early despite some success in exhibition games.
A 4-5 non-conference record would not be discouraging and is likely despite having some talent and a team full of hard workers with an apparent desire to compete and perhaps win more games than expected.
Rebounding is a major concern and without it Fullerton will suffer yet another losing season. Nonetheless if that is the case Fullerton will pester teams at Titan Gym with proven players such as DA, Bron, Zakee, and Pape who won some wars and battled in the best Fullerton game in over a decade in an overtime loss to Utah State in the BWCT. Heart and desire for the first time will not be a concern for Titan fans, just rebounding and hitting the three point basket. Add a dedicated to play Pape Sow, a focused Anthony Bolton, a Derick Andrew that hits his stride, good point guard play, and an emotionally inspiring Hardy Asprilla to the mix and Fullerton and new Coach Bob Burton and staff over come all the answers that loom, with Fullerton getting its first winning season in eleven years and some minor rumblings around the campus that it is actually a fun thing to do to go to Titan Gym.
We will be successful if we can simply out score our opponents, because based on the two exhibitions games, our defense is very poor in all phases.
Is our offense good enough to win games? Yes. Can we improve our defense enough to win? Doubtful. We still have several players that are not good at man to man defense, and we are pathetic in guarding against the three point shot.
Playing two teams that were not very good, we gave up 166 points (83 points avg.); once games start to count, scores become lower (i.e. UCI 63 and USD 60) as coaches become more controlled.
10 straight losing seasons. Are you kidding me? Last NBA player to come out of Cal State Fullerton was Bruce Bowen in 1993, or, you guessed it, the last time we had a winning season. Coincidence or not, this team has the best chance during the losing streak to produce a winning season.
We can point out all the talent which was lost, or almost had, but the bottom line is this team has one of the best point guard tandems in the league, the best center in the league, one of the best defenders in the league, a new up tempo offense which fits the players skills, a couple new coaches and a new scoreboard. The cheerleaders are pretty good looking as well and they certainly have the spirit this year. (Can you imagine a nice, long, drawn-out high-kick? Very nice.)
What more could we possibly hope for?
How about a winning season. There is no doubt that the coaches expect and demand this so why shouldn't the fans? It's going to be tough in the early going and it sure would be nice to start the season off right with a win at NAU but this will prove difficult with the high altitude and the maniacal focus on defense this past week during practice. Our offense will likely suffer some but in the long run, this is what needs to be done.
The big question marks are defense and three-point shooting. If we can crash the boards on the offensive end I am not too worried about the latter. Just like in baseball where good pitching always beats good hitting, in basketball a good defense will always stop a good offense. I think it's safe to say our offense will be able to score more than enough points to win a game.
It was clear Donny Daniels thought man-to-man was impossible with this group but it appears Bob Burton is going to try and prove him wrong.
The real concern is with Zakee Smith. It remains to be seen whether he can stop an opponent from either hitting a three or penetrating to the basket where Pape Sow will likely pick up some fouls. If he can't, does Burton go with freshman Bobby Brown or go to a zone? Or can Burton and staff actually succeed in getting Zakee to play defense?
Bottom Line: If Pape Sow has a monster year and he gets selected in the NBA draft, we will have a winning season. Throw in a little defense and someone else besides Pape to do some rebounding, and this certainly won't hurt our chances either.