2006-07 Preview: Front Court

What the Titans lack in size at the front court positions they more than make up for it in quantity. If you count Scott Cutley, who is projected to start at the four, Cal State Fullerton has nine eligible players who can play one of the post positions. At least one will redshirt -- freshman walk-on Kevin Delange -- but that still means a major logjam for playing time.

For other previews be sure to check out the main introductory section.

Wings

Justin Burns

Marcus Morgan

Andrew Green

Chris Minardo

Kenneth Alexander
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Curtis Battles
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Jarrel Lake
 

Previews: Throwback | DXDA Star | TitanCentral | Rufus 

Throwback

Can they rebound. That's the question. The otehr question is which of these will emerge other than Burns out of this group.

Justin Burns has been a nice player for Fullerton so far. You get a guy that plays hard and can rebound a little bit. His weakness is having to guard bigger guys down on the low block. Burns is one of the most likeable guys to ever play at Fullerton. You root for Justin Burns. I hope he has the senior year that he wants out of himself. He is the only proven commodity out of this bunch.

The rest of the guys I am not certain about, and would like to see more of before staking myself to an opinion.

Marcus Morgam seems to have a nice touch from the mid-range. Can he rebound?

Andrew Green is a big-bodied player that seems to be able to do some things. I like the fact that he has had D-1 experience already at Boise State. I wonder about his stamina. Can he rebound?

Kenneth Alexander is someone that I'm actually pinning some hopes on. I thnk he has the best chance to break through out of this bunch. He reminds me of a better Bron Groomes. If he can rebound I'm sold.

Chris Minardo is an interesting player. If he wants to be that guy that knocks down threes on the road in a hostile environment I'm all for it. If he wants to be a guy that shines against Hope and Cal Maritime in the comfort of Titan Gym only I'm not for it. Seems to run the court really well. I'm looking to see how assertive he will be on the floor. I'm curious to know that when the ball is in the air and it's anyone's rebound, if the rebound will belong to Chris Minardo. There is something to work with there. He could be a real X factor if he's as good as I hope he is. Can't wait to see more of him, and I'm sure the answers will come really fast.

Curtis Battles is a strong guy that won't see many minutes this year. Hoping for some more thunder dunks.

Jerrell Lake is an explosive athletic specimen but will not contribute.

Grade: C This group will be like a wrestiling tag team, tagging each other in and out of Burton's doghouse. If so much as one of these players emerges, ecstacy will ensue. If they can be serviceable by committee, just as well.

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DXDA Star

The Chicago Bulls, despite the poor start, were considered a dark horse to win the NBA Eastern Conference. The club’s center is 6-foot-9 Ben Wallace. Why is this important? There is a certain sect of Titans fans who equate height with good basketball players. These earring-wearing numbskulls would rather have a seven-foot stiff than a guy that can, you know, actually play basketball.

So if the Chicago Bulls think they can win with a 6-foot-9 center, it stands to reason that Cal State Fullerton can win with an undersized team. Especially with Justin Burns at center. Some of you, for whatever reason, think that you need to see more from Burns. Why? If the Titans are relying on Burns to lead the team in scoring, this is a lost year. With Bobby Brown, Frank Robinson, Scott Cutley and Ray Reed, Burns is going to need to create his own shot, convert some offensive rebounds into points and make his (expletive) free throws.

And most importantly, rebound the basketball. You don’t have to be the biggest dog in the fight to grab a rebound, but you must have the attitude that you want the thing. If Burns can keep the rebounding stats equal, he will have done his job.

Don’t expect much from the rest of the jabronies. People are jumping onto the Chris Minardo bandwagon for whatever reason. The level of basketball sophistication of these fans (especially the ring leader) is probably not the endorsement that Minardo is looking for. But Jamaal Brown really seems to like him, and hey, you can give him the benefit of the doubt. The rest of the players, as long as they can rise above the sub-standards set by guys such as Mark Richardson and Matt Caldwell, should be serviceable during the sparingly few minutes that they are called into duty.

Grade: C

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TitanCentral

If Justin Burns plays 30 minutes a game at either the four and/or five that means there are 50 minutes available for at least seven, possibly eight remaining front court players. And if you think Scott Cutley (previously discussed in the wings section) accounts for at least 20 minutes this leaves 30 minutes left to be dived up to seven players. Obviously some players will not be seeing much playing time.

At this point 6-10 330 pound walk-on Curtis Battles and freshman 6-8 Jarrel Lake are the leading candidates to be the odd men out.

Senior Justin Burns has the experience and talent to make an excellent four, unfortunately he is going to be asked to play the five. This means he will usually be playing against taller and more physical players but this also means slower in most cases. Rebounding will be the biggest question mark as well as staying out of foul trouble. Burns will need to improve his handling of the ball and decrease his turnovers.

Marcus Morgan appears to have the most talent of the newcomers but he is nursing a knee which is not yet 100%. If he doesn't take a medical redshirt and he is healthy he is a big body who will help the Titans rebounding and scoring in the post. He also appears to be the best defender of all the newcomers and this would go a long ways towards playing time.

Andrew Green has a slightly bigger build than Morgan but does not possess the same offensive skills. He is our best candidate to play the five but Cal State Fullerton has not had much luck recently with JC transfer post players.

Chris Minardo is probably the best shooter on the team and at 6-10 will cause serious match up problems. On the other hand, at 190 pounds, he may have some trouble being pushed around inside. Being only a sophomore and sitting out a redshirt year means he will go through some growing pains but thus far he looks very good. Minardo also needs to work more on his defensive game but coaches will forgive him if he is able to keep hitting long-range shots.

Kenneth Alexander showed some promise in pick-up games and some early practices but based on his playing time in the first two games he may be having trouble adjusting to all the new offensive and defensive schemes. He certainly has some talent but he is another player who is more suited to guard opposing teams four position. Like Burns, going up against the five may be too much to ask.

Bottom line at these positions is we are small and, for the most part, lack experience. Look for the coaches to shuffle players in and out at these positions until three or four start separating themselves from the pack. Getting teams to play our up tempo style will certainly bode well and help hide our height problems.

Grade C: Rebounding appears to be a problem, at least in the early going.

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Rufus

Truth be told, we really don’t have any of those things listed above. Our two tallest players are both 6’10” – but one is going to play beyond the arc and the other is (based on last year) not going to play many minutes. What we have is depth at the position – with seven guys “in the mix”.

Justin Burns: Justin is the center, by default. Justin has made improvements in his first two years. He is a strong rebounder and has a good short range jumper. Justin gets into foul trouble, mainly from being overly aggressive trying to block shots – but also from trying to protect when the guards get beat. Justin needs to stay around the “paint” to be successful; he also must learn to finish with a dunk, rather than the finesse shot. Justin will have trouble guarding some of the larger (both in height and in weight) players in the Big West – but we all know he has the heart and desire to do it.

Andrew Green: Drew has the bulk to guard most of the centers in the league, what he lacks is quickness and leaping ability – but that hasn’t stopped some of our previous centers. He was recruited by Daniels out of high school – but choose to try his luck at Boise State; returning to be close to home CSUF. His numbers at Boise State don’t show us much, but he posted some fair numbers at the jc level last year. I think he, despite having not as much success at the jc level as last year’s “pick to click” by some (Nunez), will be an adequate back up for Justin. Must work on defense.

Kenneth Alexander: Another jc transfer who should get a few minutes at the center/power forward positions. Looks like he is a good rebounder, is fairly athletic, and can score around the basket. Hasn’t show that he is a good defender. JC transfers tend to learn quickly that this isn’t jc anymore, and how quickly he learns how to play at this level will dictate the minutes he gets.

Curtis Battles: Based on last year, I don’t look for Curtis to play much this year. We will be (hopefully) playing fast, and pressuring the ball on defense – these things don’t fit well for Curtis. I do know this, in the few minutes that he gets, Curtis will play as hard as he can. He will get some dunks and will get some rebounds.

Jerrel Lake: An athletic young man, who is still learning how to play basketball. I don’t see minutes for him this year or next – but he is a very interesting project.

Chris Minardo: Chris should have been reviewed under the wings category, but this is where it was requested that we review him. Chris is a shooter, Chris likes to hang, out behind the arc, Chris can shoot it, Chris can run the floor, Chris can dunk the ball. It’s what Chris can’t do that bothers me; Chris can’t guard anyone and Chris can’t create his own shot. I really like the offense that Chris would bring to the table – but where do you hide him on the defensive end of the court. Justin would foul out in the first half trying to stop the layup, if Chris had to guard an athletic wing. Maybe we play a zone when Chris is in the game? Tough problem for Coach B.

Marcus Morgan: Another player, that based on the scrimmage, and the two games we have played, should have been reviewed as a wing. Marcus has shown that he is a tenacious on the ball defender, is quick enough to guard smaller players, and is strong enough to keep players from penetrating. Marcus appears to be able to create his own shot, and has a nice looking middle range jumper. Not sure about his rebounding. I look for him to get most of his minutes backing up Cutley and Robinson. Marcus appears to be very confident in his ability to play at this level and hopefully will not suffer the normal jc learning curve.

Grade: B. this position is the strength of several other teams in the BW. UCSB, UOP, and UCI are strong in the front court, but our depth might help us.

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