Season Preview, Part III: Front Court

With the loss of five seniors and the addition of 12 newcomers, predicting the 2004-05 men's basketball season is no easy task. Never fear, as three fans and a publisher give you a wide range of views for the upcoming season.

Wings

Hardy Asprilla

Jamaal Brown

Lloyd Walls

Derek Quinet

Justin Burns

Mike Harrington

Previews: Whit Haydon | Mike Welton | Kirk San Roman | Paul Causey

Whit Haydon

Fullerton has enjoyed a rebounding edge over its opponents for the last three or four seasons. Is that a thing of the past?

Time to get of off this natural high of talking about the guards. Let's talk about the big men. Notice I did not call them "bigs", those of you who do that knock it off.

Let's start with the returning Hardy Asprilla. Hardy "Viva" Asprilla indeed brings a ton of life to the Titans - and how refreshing it has been to see him play with the intensity and desire that he brings. Hardy can pop out and hit the mid-range jumper and bang with the big boys. He plays fearless on the road and is not swayed by hostile environments. I look for Hardy to be a leader on this club and to exceed in whatever role he is given whether it be for five or twenty-five minutes a game and to stay on-board through the inevitable tough times that lie around the corner in every season.

Jamaal Brown is a drastically needed addition to the Titans and his arrival is so big I can't even think of a printable word to describe what he will mean to this program this year Jamaal is the first Titan to have seen NCAA Tournament action (yes "the dance" Titan fans, ever heard of it before?) since bell bottom pants. Jamaal is going to be a difference maker this season. He can shoot the ball and he is a proven rebounder at Western Kentucky where he hauled in 10 rebounds in the Sun Belt championship game in 2003. Brown will be inserted in to the starting lineup on December 21 along with Ralphy Holmes. Early indications are that he reminds me of an excellent former Titan named Agee Ward. Ward was a stud.

Lloyd Walls is a local guy coming in from Wright State of the tough Horizon League. Walls demonstrated in the summer that he can defend the post as he shut down USC's Jeff McMillan. Walls will have to hold his own in the Big West and enable the guards to do their thing.

Juco transfers Justin Burns and Derek Quinet also enter the mix. Burns had a nice summer but may struggle in the early going for the Titans. He can do some things but they are all overridden by his ball-handling skills at the moment. If he can prove that he is not a turnover prone guy he will help sooner than later. Quinet will have to rebound when he is in the game. My early impression of Derek is that his rebounding ability is highly suspect.

I expect Mike Harrington will redshirt.

Outlook: Rebounding is a tremendous concern to the Titans this year. Giving teams second and third chances on the offensive end will not go over big in Section K nor the win column alike. Continued inspired play by Asprilla is needed. Jamaal Brown hopefully asserts himself as a force in the conference, while Burns emerges as the season progresses. Walls or Quinet will need to be a pleasant surprise and rebound better than expected. A pipe dream? Maybe.

Grade: D-. There are some much better front courts in the league.

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Mike Welton

The front court is the biggest weakness on the Titans this year. The only returning player in the group is Hardy Asprilla who, if size of heart and hustle were the factors in grading, would get an A. However, Hardy despite his warrior like play, is undersized and not an explosive leaper; he struggles to get a shot off in traffic and is not a very good man defensive player. Hardy must improve his numbers from last year for the Titans to improve on last years 11 wins.

Jamaal Brown will more than likely be the starting center, after he becomes eligible on Dec. 21st. Jamaal has D1 experience, but is not very quick. King, Ralphie, and Justin Burns will also play some front court for the Titans - when Coach B elects to go "small".

Lloyd Walls, Derek Quinet, and Mike Harrington, unless they develop some of Hardy's warrior like attitude, will not be much of a factor. Walls didn't post good numbers at Wright State, Quinet is a jc transfer, and Harrington is a likely redshirt candidate.

Grade:  D-.

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Kirk San Roman

Clearly the man we're looking for in the blocks is Jamaal Brown. Brown probably has the best chance to provide the rebounds and physical presence that we took for granted from Pape Sow. At 6' 7" (maybe), Brown is most likely suited for the 4, but may be called upon to play some 5.

A lot of our success will depend upon whether or not Jamaal Brown can live up to the lofty expectations placed upon him.

A likely candidate for the '04-'05 Lyle Parks, Jr. Titan Hustle Award is senior Hardy Asprilla. No one works harder than Hardy. He treats every series in practice like it's the Final Four.

While his work effort is exemplary, he has his limitations athletically. He is not blessed with a great vertical leap, and at 6' 5" is a tad undersize. However, he had three games where quietly nabbed double-digit rebounds. Finishing is another problem that Hardy sometimes had. Too many times seemingly easy lay-ups rolled off of the rim. Like "Last PhD" says, he needs to put a little spin on the ball, and learn to make that shot consistently.

I'm a big fan of Hardy's and I know that he'll battle every second of every minute in practice to earn his right to be on the floor.

Justin Burns is the "X" factor for the Titans. Primarily a small forward, he will be expected to compete for minutes at the power forward position. This will no doubt be a difficult transition, as he will likely be giving up at least 30 lbs. to an opponent. A tremendous leaper, he impressed many of us with his man to man defensive prowess in summer league play.

If Justin Burns can become a solid contributor, the Titans will be a better team for it.

Rebound, box out, play defense, and make some put-backs. That should be the mantra for Derek Quinet and Lloyd Walls. While no one is expecting All-Big West numbers from either, solid consistent performance is the goal.

Quinet has apparently impressed Coach Burton in practice, and will likely emerge as the starter. Walls impressed several of us with his solid defense and work ethic in summer league play. If these two play hard, our combination of guards might be able to carry us.

Mike Harrington is a young man with a big body. Unfortunately, he looks very raw on the floor. A redshirt year might be his best option.

Grade: C

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Paul Causey

It's a Small World. To continue on with the Disney theme, this best describes the Cal State Fullerton 2004-05 front court. And just like the ride, it's going to be a long, painful experience.

No one is taller than 6-9 -- centers Lloyd Walls and Derek Quinet -- and our starting power forward will be leaping-challenged 6-5 Hardy Asprilla. When Jamaal Brown becomes eligible on December 21st versus San Diego State we will gain an extra inch. And I think we must be the only Division I school in the country to list, on our official roster, a center at 6-7 (Mike Harrington, who is really more like 6-6). There is also Justin Burns who, at 6-6, 205 lbs., is really a three being asked to play a four.

Anyone who was in Titan Gym last year knows what Hardy Asprilla brings to the table: Energy, hustle, emotion. He also is a very good offensive rebounder who will have to improve on finishing those easy layups. And if he can somehow rebound on the defensive end as well as he does on the offensive side, he could fit into the middle of the Big West. One thing I know for certain is I do not want him to shoot any more threes. We have plenty of those players this year.

Jamaal Brown is a completely different player. He not only possesses a good outside shot with touch, but he has a great inside game. I have heard rumors he likes to pass but haven't seen this much in my very limited viewing. It is certain Jamaal has the potential to dominate on the offensive end but the team needs to see more from his defense and expect some adjustment period before he really starts to shine.

At this writing it appears the Titans are going to go with Lloyd Walls and Derek Quinet at the center position. If neither of these two step up, we will have some serious holes in the middle and you can expect to see a lot of Hardy and Jamaal in the game at the same time.

Lloyd is actually a pretty good defender but now there is a question of whether he will even play again because of a concussion he suffered a couple weeks ago. Quinet started out well but still needs to become more of a physical force and learn to play defense. A lot to ask in such a short period of time.

The Titans do have one more front court player in Justin Burns. During the summer I was actually very pleased with his progress. Burns, with his long arms, is a great defender but he has a problem holding onto the ball. We do not have the luxury of turning the ball over at this position. Justin is only a sophomore and has a great future. I expect him to be one of the most improved once the season ends and next year he will be better and be able to move over to his natural position.

With the injury to Walls, Mike Harrington, if he doesn't redshirt, may be asked to give us some needed depth. He also lacks the knowledge and experience to play at this level right now so if he does play, just start singing that annoying song.

Grade: D-; Would be lower without Jamaal. Defense and rebounding will be key, especially in the early going.

 

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