Fullerton returns starter Jermaine Harper at shooting guard. Is he a streaky shooter? Yes! When it's bad is it bad? Yes! When it's good is it good? Yes! I don't expect that to change.
However, Harper presents many positive factors that are completely overlooked. Number one, Harper plays the best transition defense of any shooting guard in Fullerton history. In other words, he gets back and stops the ball. Nobody runs on Jermaine. Nobody jams the ball down his throat in transition. Period. This is the most important aspect of his defensive game. I have rarely seen a player with his speed on the basketball court. Most basketball athletic actions are judged in terms of quickness. Jermaine has open court speed to beat you back. This is a great asset. Harper is also noted for his good on the ball defense.
What I really like about Jermaine is that he is a rock in a hostile environment. Like LB, Jermaine plays very well on the road. This is not common amongst Fullerton players even in some of Fullerton's very best seasons in years past. In a difficult environment you will find Jermaine bringing the ball up the floor confidently against full court pressure when LB is being locked down upon. This is a priceless asset on the road down the stretch when holding a lead late.
Jermaine Harper will hopefully work within the flow of the offense to maximize his benefit to the club. A more consistent stroke will be welcomed. I wish the very best for Jermaine's senior year as I believe his athleticism gives him a chance to play for money overseas.
Frank Robinson is here finally. What an athlete. He has looks downright scary at times in the summer as he outperformed Aaron Affalo in the summer of 2004. Robinson can do a little of everything. Robinson's downfall is his penchant for shooting a fall-away 18 footer from the baseline as opposed to attacking the basket. When he allows a defense to put him in the position of settling for bad shots he becomes just another guy. I look for Frank to provide much needed help on the glass and to provide a medium-range scoring punch along with taking it hard to the basket. Ideally, Robinson converts when fouled and gets himself in an "and one" situation regularly.
Vershan Cottrell is the most underrated player I have ever seen at Fullerton. I would defy and rebuke anything to the contrary. Why? When was the last time a quality player has been buried on the depth chart at Fullerton. It has not happened anytime that I can remember in the last fifteen years. Cottrell's challenge that he handles so well is that he plays well within himself and the system when presented an opportunity to play. This is not easy to do, as the first instinct of a guy getting limited playing time is to try to do something dramatic to catch the attention of people and call into question the coach's decision of little PT. When you never play you have no time to grow on people, thus making it doubly hard. Vershan has excelled in his capacity and I look for him to have spot games where he plays tremendously well. There will be at least one game this year that Vershan will be the main reason Fullerton wins. Check this last sentence for accuracy when the season is over.
Jerard Moret is one of the most highly rated incoming high school players we have had in some time. He is a physical specimen. Put him in an NBA jersey in a movie and he can already play that part even at his tender age. Patience is the name of the game for Mr. Moret. In the summertime Moret had a couple of games where he was able to connect from long distance, in fact, one ballgame he was 3 for 3 from behind the arc. However, Moret like most freshman have a tendency to play timid at times. Hostile road environments will bother young players and a winning coach like Bob Burton will have him on a short leash if nerves get the better of him. Hopefully, this season is a great learning experience for him and he can contribute on the defensive end with quality spells.
Mike Danielian is a player I have never seen. I understand he can shoot it a little bit. Bob Burton and staff have shown a knack for being strong talent evaluators.
Grade: B. Will they knock down threes?
“Bewitched”, a popular television series in the 1960s, went through a big change when Dick Sargent replaced Dick York as one of the lead principles, Darrin. The new Darrin looked the same and even had the same first name as the original Darrin. But it just was not the same no matter how badly you wanted it to work.
Titans fans should remember that this season as Frank Robinson has the unenviable task of trying to replace the legendary Ralphy Holmes. Robinson has the same body type of Holmes and may even be more athletic. But it is impossible to replace the heart and leadership that Ralphy brought to the court.
How special was Ralphy? One long-time Fullerton fan swore that he would never set foot in Titan Gym after Ralphy graduated (which he did this summer). Holmes was the most popular player at Cal State Fullerton in the last 20 years. That will not make Robinson’s job any easier this season.
Robinson has the talent to one day be a Big West player of the year. It will not be this season. It would not be a shock if Robinson does not average double digits in his first year with the team. Robinson has not played basketball since the 2003-04 season. There is always a learning curve for new players coming into the system. It is not fair for anybody to expect Robinson to even come close to Ralphy’s numbers. Players like Ralphy do not come around very often.
Fullerton fans that lived through the Chuck Overton era should know that.
I once again defer to Ralphy who made an appearance on TitanCentral.com and said that Frank has a lot of upside but needs some seasoning. Ralphy had heart and a killer instinct that was unmatched by any player to ever don a Fullerton uniform. As Ralphy said, once Frank develops that mentality he will be fine. Will it be this season? Who knows. But when Sargent replaced York on Bewitched, the show dropped thirteen points in the ratings.
Senior Jermaine Harper provides some outside shooting and will benefit from having a year under his belt in the Burton system. Harper has a great mentality for shooting. It always amazes me that fans will sit in the stands and be upset when he takes a wide-open jumper. That is his job and he does it well. This would be a good time to back up my assertions with facts, but I am a member of the blogger generation and backing up your facts means nothing as long as you proclaim it as the truth. Harper, who hit 36 percent from three point range, has been slowed by an injury and will have little to no impact in the beginning of the season. But his shooting will be a boon in conference play.
Vershan Cottrell is a very capable backup and will see significant minutes in the early part of the season. My only hope is that he ditched the cornrows before the season started. If you look at prominent athletes with cornrows you think of Donovan McNabb and Allen Iverson—two players that have never won a championship. Although McNabb does throw a better bounce pass than Cottrell. The hair is also not that bad in the grand scheme of things. Cottrell could have hair like Steve Bisheff.
Every season brings with it a new surprise. Much like the ABC show “Freddie” has proven to be the surprise comedy hit of the season. (Come on, you knew that “My Name is Earl” was going to be a huge hit.) Jerad Moret could be that surprise hit for the Titans this year. Moret would be a prize recruit during the Bob Hawking or Donny Daniels era. But now the fans are wondering if Moret should be redshirted so he has that extra year of eligibility at the end of the year. That should give you an indication of the way the program has evolved. And if Moret could find a way to bring Brian Austin Green to Titan Gym like “Freddie” has brought him back to my television, then I would say this guy could be one of the best Titan freshmen in quite some time.
There is also some other guy in the mix and I am sure he will have a productive career just like John Stoa so we will wish him good luck.
Grade: B. But there is a lot of upside in this position.
This position is of some concern going into the season. It was our strength last year because of the leadership, heart, scoring, defense, etc. that Ralphy Holmes and Yaphett King brought to each game. We have depth and athletic ability at this position but there are question marks many question marks for this position.
Jermaine Harper: Harper has played in the ACC, and showed glimpses of being a standout in the BW. He needs to be more consistent. He has the ability but the questions still are: Will Harper overcome some lingering injuries and will he develop into a consistent performer? Last year he was either really good or really bad, we will need more than just his defense this year. Will Harper develop into a senior leader? The Titans need “YES” answers to these questions.
Frank Robinson: FRob is coming into the Titans program with probably as much hype as any transfer since Leon Wood. He is a physical specimen, and appears to have all the tools; he can jump out of the gym, and has a nose for the ball. He will be counted on heavily to pick up some of the scoring and rebounding lost with the loss of Ralphy and Yaphett. Questions are: How long will it take to get the rust off from the year layoff? Will teams play off of him, daring him to shoot? I think FRob will be a fan favorite because of his spectacular jumping ability, and will surprise some teams; he will need to knock the rust off fast, as he will be counted on heavily. Fans MUST remember that he is NOT Ralphy Holmes, and just let him be FRob. FRob will be a leader in many Titan all-time stats by the time he leaves school.
Jerard Moret: Moret is a highly regarded freshman. He has a very mature body, and good size; plays good defense and comes from a high profile high school program. Questions are: Can he rebound? He appears to like to shoot from the outside and hasn’t shown much interest in banging in on the inside. Is his shot reliable? How fast will he learn how to play at the D1 level? Can he do the things he did at the high school level, at the D1 level?
Vershan Cottrell: VC got some minutes last year, and should get more this year. He is a quality walk-on and was the state scoring leader in high school in Washington. Last year he was not asked to score, but was just asked to play solid defense and not make many mistakes when he was on the floor. This year he will be asked to score and rebound more. VC knows how to play, and does not hurt the team when he is on the floor. Questions are: Can he rebound? Can he hit the open jump shot consistently? Can he provide senior leadership?
Mike Danielian is a shooter, but I doubt he will get many minutes. Possible if a team zones us, he could be a zone buster. Could be a red shirt, but do you need shirt walk-ons?
Grade: B-. We have depth and quality athletes at this position; however success will depend on how the questions are answered.
Jermaine Harper had a cyst removed on the back of his knee and is now participating in practice for the first time in months. Of the three returning starters from last year Harper gets the least publicity but he is a critical component to the Titans success this year.
There are two personalities to Jermaine when he's on the floor. One has him hitting beyond-NBA-range three-pointers in the Big West Tournament loss to Utah State or beating Eastern Washington with a game-winning bomb. Then there is the Jermaine who goes 0-for-7 in a four-point loss to Utah State at home.
Despite the inconsistency -- and this is usually what most haters want to dwell on -- Harper hit 70 3-pointers last year, which ties him for fifth all-time for the Titans, at a clip of 36.6%. Harper also handles the ball well evidenced by the fact he had 72 assists and only 52 turnovers, both second-best efforts on last year's team.. With all these accomplishments, his biggest contributions last year were from the defensive side. He plays tenacious perimeter defense and never seemed to have an off-night in this department.
Along with the Browns, Harper will also be counted on to provide another key ingredient to this year's team: Leadership. He should be up to the task and the bottom line on a healthy Harper means the Titans have one of the top perimeter players in the Big West.
Another player expected to contribute significantly at the wing position this year is Frank Robinson. His name alone stands to reason this kid is special. And his talent confirms it. Robinson has a 6-4, 215 pound chiseled frame that should draw some looks from NBA scouts in future years. He's very athletic, very explosive and works extremely hard during practices.
The only problem with Robinson is when things don't go his way, he's very hard on himself. He is going to be a very special player but it will likely take some time for him to get back into the thick of things after redshirting last year. Once he shakes off the cobwebs, gains some confidence, this is when the Titans will excel.
First off the bench for the Titans at the wing position will be either senior Vershan Cottrell or freshman Jerard Moret. Early on expect Cottrell to get the nod but both should see plenty of minutes. Both Moret and Cottrell have look very good during the two closed scrimmages with Burton commenting that "Moret looked like a stud" against San Diego State.
Moret is mature beyond his years and he has a good-looking stroke with great court vision and decision-making. Expect Moret to really improve over the course of the season. His work ethic won't let him do otherwise.
Cottrell is in his last year as a basketball player and you can tell he wants to make the most of it. He is a good defender and runs the floor well but he struggles with his outside shooting. He is another player who seems to get down on himself -- or maybe its the playing time -- but if he can keep it together and accept his role he can have a good year as a backup and maybe even push for a start here or there if someone struggles.
Mike Danielian is a freshman walk-on who played very well during the Blue & While scrimmage. New Titans assistant coach Marlon Morton believes Danielian has a bright future in this program. He is a tough competitor who practices very hard however you really don't get the sense he is willing to accept being just a good practice player. He is fighting for playing time, if not this year, then next.
Grade: A-; One of the top 2 in the Big West provided Harper is healthy and Robinson and Moret progress as planned.