There is no doubt Cal State Fullerton basketball is on the rise, at least in terms of number of players on the current roster. The 2004-05 team ended the season with seven active players while this years team starts the season with an unprecedented 20 players.
Two players are ineligible from the beginning: Georgetown transfer Ray Reed and Kent State transfer Scott Cutley. The remaining 18 are all eligible to play but look for third-year head coach Bob Burton to redshirt at least four of them.
Leading candidates for a redshirt year are 6-10 center Manny Montano and 6-9 forward Chris Minardo. Montano needs to add some bulk to his frame while Minardo is still wearing a cast on his wrist from an injury he suffered late last season playing for Citrus College.
All 20 players can practice with the team, however.
"I'm extremely excited to have this group of kids in school and ready to go," said Burton.
The Titans did lose one player who was expected back. Derek Quinet, a 6-9 F/C has decided not to play and will concentrate on his academics at Cal State Fullerton.
As expected, Mike Danielian, a sharp-shooter from Grant High in Van Nuys, has enrolled and will walk on. In addition, Bryan Simmons, a 6-10 220 lb center from Valencia High School, is also trying to make the team as a walk-on. (See the OC Register Q&A for more information on Bryan)
The Titans, who started one player over 6-4 in last season's 21 victory squad, have added some size to this years team with the addition of highly regarded Ventura College transfer Gary Nunez (6-8, 240), redshirt Adam Tancredi (6-9, 250) and redshirt Curtis Battles (6-10, 312).
"Our goal weight for Curtis was 320 pounds," Burton said, "So we are pleased to see him weigh in at 312."
It's all about leadership
"One concern heading into this year is obviously leadership," said Burton. "I have already had a meeting with our seniors asking them who is going to step up.
Point guard Bobby Brown is also expected to take part in this role said Burton.
"Other than that, we are looking to run a similar offense with the same tempo as last season," Burton continued, "Except now we have more of an inside presence with our big men."
Injuries and NCAA Changes
Burton said that in addition to Minardo's wrist injury, John Clemmons has just received clearance to do light running (broken foot suffered late last season) and Jermaine Harper has a cyst that may need to be removed on his left ankle. Clemmons should be near 100% in about 4-6 weeks.
There was also a new NCAA change which should benefit the players according to Burton. The NCAA still allows only 2 hours per week of player coaching (until official practice begins mid-October) but the change is that now players can practice with the entire team. The old rule allowed only groups of three.
Still, only two hours a week is still not enough. In comparison, the women get four hours a week.
It's true Ralphy Holmes has finished his class work however nothing is official until everything has been approved and signed off by the school.
Ralphy is headed to Germany at the end of this week and Yaphett King is going to play somewhere in Turkey.
Hardy Asprilla will be on staff and provide academic assistance to the players.