Lobo Points of Interest: Cal-State Fullerton

Hey 1978, guess who’s coming to dinner? No, it’s not superfly Rudy C with an Al Hurricane afro and butterfly-collar Radio Shack vest. It’s the Cal State Fullerton Titans. Yes, THOSE Titans who broke the heart of a generation in the fabled days of slamma jamma, when the Titans shocked the fifth ranked Lobos and ushered in decades of March Sadness.

In the years since, Cooper socks and NCAA glory are conspicuously absent, but it appears length and athleticism are back en vogue on the historic court that Norman once stormed. Things have changed in the Pit a bit since then: a shot clock, three point line, and a Snake, but make no mistake, dunks-aplenty have made a return to the A-B-Q.
Now about those infamous Titans… The Dedrique Taylor-coached Fullerton Titans finished a less-than-impressive 11-20 last season (3-12 road record) and qualified for their league tournament in the Big West Conference with a mark of 6-12. This season, the team was selected to finish eighth in the Big West Conference in the preseason media poll, projected even lower than their sixth-place finish in 2014. Despite this predicted finish, as typical for a Southern California squad, there is just enough speed and athleticism on the Titans to make them dangerous, especially for a Lobo crew susceptible to flustering by quick teams. Expect a heavy dose of dribble drives and man defense from Fullerton.
The Titans return 3 starters from last season including Jared Brownridge, 2014 Big West Newcomer of the Year, who returns as a sophomore, after lighting it up for 17.2 points per game last season.
Alex Harris (6”1’) returns as one of Fullerton's primary offensive threats. Harris finished second on the team in points per game (15.6). His resume boasts 22 double-figure scoring games, including eight 20-point efforts. ‘Bad' Cullen can make an appearance when small, quick guards frustrate him; he must be aware of the speedy pickpocket Harris (1.26 steals pg) and play under control (i.e. Good Cullen).
The Titans also bring improved length into the Pit, with six players at 6’7” or taller Including 6’7” senior Steve McClellan, 6’10” junior Kennedy Esume, 6’7” freshman Jamar Akoh, 6’7” junior Temjae Singleton, and 6’8” sophomore Malcolm Henderson.
Despite this, the Titans may have a tough time containing Obij Aget; the Lobo center was on a mission in UNM’s game against Idaho State on Friday, messing around for a double-double with 10 points, 12 boards and four blocked shots. The Lobos are still finding their offensive identity and shooting touch, but it appears the trademark stifling defense of the Neal/Alford era is already in mid season form. The combination of intense Lobo D, a rejuvenated Delaney, and the intimidating Pit may be too much to overcome for the new-look Titans. History may smile a black tooth grin on this matchup, but as the great John Wooden (or was it Marty McFly?) once opined, "Yeah? Well history is gonna change."

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