Some believe Ray Reed can play the point but unless Crenshaw and Bobby Brown are unavailable he will be playing at the wing. Frank Robinson played mostly at the four last year but this year he should be primarily at the three spot. Bobby Brown could also play at the wing but this won't happen unless there is an injury epidemic or he is struggling at the point position. Finally, Chris Minardo may see action at the wing as well but defensively he matches up better at the four or five so he will be covered in the front court previews. Okay, so maybe fuzzy wasn't the right term...
For other previews be sure to check out the main introductory section.
Here is another highly talented group of players for Fullerton. Ray Reed has been impressive. He's a nasty defender and probably an underrated offensive player. A guy that played with that Georgetown group that has since torn things up has to be doing something right, as he got major minutes there two years ago. I like Reed's demeanor as he strikes me as a fierce competitor. If you wear a Titan uniform and spray that can of nasty around, I'm a fan. I also like that he can rip down long rebounds from bigger guys.
Frank Robinson is a great talent that can do many things, but did not live up to expectations last year despite a nice stretch run at the end. Once his confidence got going he was borderline unstoppable. The key for Robinson is to just play and quit over-thinking. Turnovers need to be kept to a minimum. I'm looking for a more joyful court personality out of him, as that is when he seems to perform at his best. He's a guy that tends to get down on himself but he has apparently worked out all of the bugs. Expectations are high once again for Franky. He will be badly needed on the boards this year.
Scott Cutley is a stud plain and simple. He embodies everything I like about an athlete. I saw him play his senior year in high school at a tournament game at Ocean View High and immediately thought "why can't we get him to Fullerton?" Well, here he is and what an incredible cult-like figure he will become. He's a can't miss. He'll be good for an extra 400 fans per game over last year's average by season's end.
Already spoke about Crenshaw in the PG section. Hopefully he can fill it up since he will be shooting a lot.
Dwayne Marshall is a guy I have not seen a lot of yet. He will be under strict orders not to shoot the ball. "Marshall Law" will be imposed. He appears to be a solid defender with some quickness.
Grade: A. Too much talent here to grade any lower than that.
The wings will be led by Frank Robinson who lived up to his preseason hype towards the end of the season. But let Frank's tale be a cautionary one when expecting too much out of Scott Cutley or Ray Reed.
The passionate but misguided Titan fans were quick to anoint Robinson the second-coming of Ralphy Holmes before he even played a minute for Fullerton. Nobody could live up to those expectations. A situation that was exasperated when Robinson could not supplant a walk-on for playing time during the first half of the season. Robinson now has a year under his belt and it would not be unreasonable to see him become a first-team All-Big West. (And really, if Robinson is all-Big West, does Burton get credit for recruiting him, or will the Section Senile faithful still find a way to run down the coach?)
Cutley and Reed come from winning programs and will bring that attitude, but just as you were cautioned in this space last year to have patience with Robinson, have some patience for this duo.
Other wings include Marcus Crenshaw who also comes from another winning program. Crenshaw, a Detroit native, obviously didn't come to Fullerton to sit the bench. But it is hard to imagine a scenario where Crenshaw plays major minutes for the Titans this year. Well, at least a good scenario.
Grade: B+, but will likely become an A towards the end of the year when Cutley and Reed get more comfortable.
In Cal State Fullerton's system, the two and three are nearly identical positions, hence the term wing. On paper we appear extremely thin at this position but because so many players can cross the boundaries and play different positions this is a misnomer.
Ray Reed and Frank Robinson are projected to start and should see considerable action. Marcus Crenshaw is pushing Reed for the starting role but Reed's defense is so good that it will be extremely difficult to overtake him at this point in the season.
Reed recently had a "break-out" game against Hope International as far as his offense is concerned. Prior to that he seemed lost and a little timid but he showed why he was highly recruited out of high school and why Georgetown offered him a free ride. It's tough sitting out a year and Reed will certainly struggle at times but don't look for his defense to take any nights off.
Reed has posted back-to-back 6 steal games to open the season and had numerous other deflections as well. At this pace Reed is on track to shatter the current record for steals in a season which is 74 and held by Tony Neal. (Reed would need to average 2.5 per game in 30 games to break the record)
Some may worry about not being tall enough or strong enough for opposing two or threes but with Reed's uncanny ability to force turnovers with his positioning and ultra-quick hands, any worries will fade away as the season moves forward. Look for Reed to guard the opposing teams' best player in most cases and this includes POY candidate Aaron Nixon of Long Beach State.
Frank Robinson admits he struggled quite a bit during the early going last year but he rebounded quite nicely at the end of the season to become one of the Titans best players. For his efforts he was selected best "sixth man" in the Big West Conference and that was before he posted career highs for points and rebounds in the Titans final game against Long Beach State.
Robinson has a NBA build and so much upside you can literally feel the excitement. It will be hard for him to repeat his team-leading 44.5% shooting from beyond the arc but he will be counted on to hit his fair share of three-balls. He needs to improve on his defense and also on driving to the basket without turning the ball over. While he likely won't repeat as team leader on steals, like Reed, he has a knack for creating the turnover which will lead to many fast-break opportunities. He can jump out of the building and he will need to improve on his 5.1 rebounds per game from last year for the Titans to reach the real post-season (i.e. not the Big West Tourney).
Titan fans remember Ralphy Holmes' spectacular senior season but do most remember his first game back against San Diego State after being off for over a year? It was not a pretty sight. Turns out he tried too hard and could not score a single point in a 63-60 loss. Remember how it took awhile for Yaphett King to make a statement in a Titan uniform after trying to come back from a foot injury? His break-out game came against Long Beach State 13 games into his first season.
Scott Cutley is from a similar mold as Holmes and King. He has the vocal leadership qualities and same type of game as Yaphett King plus he has the passion for the game ala Ralphy Holmes. Also like Holmes, he wants the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. He also is coming off a year without playing competitive college basketball. The only question is how long will it take for Cutley to shine? Rest assured, the coaches will be patient as he is a very unique player who, if healthy, will go down as one of the all-time fan favorites.
His game consists of excellent post moves near the basket as well as being able to hit a three-pointer when needed. He can also penetrate and finish. On the defensive side he has excellent instincts and should be able to get good positioning for rebounds against taller players. His biggest asset is his leadership, both on and off the floor.
Marcus Crenshaw was discussed in the point guard preview but will be seeing most of his minutes at the wing. He will likely be asked to come off the bench this year but should see considerable playing time as he is one of the few pure shooters on this team. While his shot does not have much rotation he still manages to have a soft touch because he has so much arc on the ball. He is a great ball-handler and is a perfect fit in coach Burtons new offense but I don't get the impression he will like coming off the bench so hopefully there are no problems for "Da Problem."
The worst thing that could have happened to Dwayne Marshall did happen. He was certain to see playing time during the Bookstore Four suspensions but he went down with an injury which has him out 2-4 weeks. When he comes back playing time will be hard to find for the Saddleback College transfer. He's athletic enough and plays good defense but he lacks shooting from the outside.
Grade: A; especially if Cutley plays significant minutes at the wing
Last year everyone thought this was a question mark position for the Titans. TB, DXDA, and myself all gave the position B's. TitanCentral.com even thought that Danielian was going to be a play THIS year (2006). We all thought Moret would be a player, although I thought he should be red-shirted because of limited projected playing time. Where are they now?
This year, while it may be a question mark position because of only having ONE returning player, that one player, by the middle of the season, was a dominating player.
FRob: The returning player alluded to above. He was an outstanding three point shooter last year. Frank attacks the rim with reckless abandon, and is a highlight reel waiting to happen. He is an adequate defender, and last year was forced to guard taller players; hopefully in a more pressing defense this year, we won't be forced into half court games. Frank is also a good rebounder, he has all BW skills, and if he could develop a good crossover dribble he could be the best at his position in the BW. Frank will be all BW before he leaves CSUF.
The remaining three at this position are all D1 transfers, one of which I reviewed in the point guard section:
Scott Cutley: Red is this year's " if we only had him this year" from last year. It seems like every year, the Titans have one of those. This year it is Josh. Red reminds you of Yaphett, a guy who just knows how to score. Red is also undersized, just like Yaphett – but if he was a taller version of himself, he would probably be playing at UCLA. Red will rebound, score inside, lead, and play defense. Question marks on Red are is his outside shot consistent, and how will he play against taller, quicker opponents? Red looked very solid in the scrimmage, but hard to judge scrimmages. Based on his Kent State numbers, it looks like Red will be one of the better wings in the BW.
RayRay: Actually a point guard, but will play the wing because of our depth at point guard. He is extremely quick and plays great pressure defense. His shot is not the prettiest thing in the world, and I would suspect that he is a streaky shooter at best. He attacks the rim without fear. While his numbers at Georgetown were not impressive, I look for him to contribute highly to the Titan's success this year. Reed is a hardnosed defender, and his points will come from steals and from driving the lane. Question marks on Reed are his outside shot and do his numbers at Georgetown tell us anything? Ray-Ray looked a little off in the scrimmage, but was very strong against Cal-Maritime. Not sure how he will fare against some of the taller, more physical wings.
Marcus Crenshaw: Marcus is a point guard looking for additional playing time at the wing position. He is quick, but not sure he is tall enough to guard some of the wings in the conference. He is a good on the ball defender, but not sure what would happen if Nixon posted him up. Marcus is not afraid to put the ball up, which is a good thing – if the shot is falling. Marcus appears to be a streaky shooter. High school numbers are IMPRESSIVE, he will be a fan favorite, and should develop into a fine pg (wing?, not sure.) for the Titans.
Dwayne Marshall: Ugliest shot since Henry Turner. When it leaves his hand, you just hope it hits the backboard. Dwayne is a walk-on, and doesn't look to get any minutes this year. Based on the scrimmage, it looks like he will practice and play hard – which should help his teammates.
Grade: B+, due to depth – really only two wing players (FRob and Cutley). Foul trouble or injury to either of these and we become VERY small at the position.