CSUF men’s basketball optimistic about season after Blue/Orange Scrimmage

In Sports
(Bailey Carpenter / Daily Titan)

Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball took the court for its first official action of the 2017-18 season, playing its annual Blue/Orange Scrimmage Sunday.

Titans Head Coach Dedrique Taylor had modest goals for the afternoon run.

“Hopefully we got some conditioning because we needed to get up and down the floor,” Taylor said. “Every time we’re out on the floor, we need to take it as an opportunity to learn about ourselves as individuals and learn about ourselves as a team.”

With Drake and other hip-hop artists blaring, the team threw down dunks, put up shots, ran through basic offensive sets and stretched during a public warmup session for a sparse crowd around noon before the game tipped off at 1 p.m.

Titans guard Khalil Ahmad and forward Jackson Rowe — the last two winners of the Big West Freshman of the Year Award — played for the orange side, continuing their success from last season at their natural positions. The team utilized undersized and versatile frontcourt tandem to outrun and outgun opponents down the stretch last year.

“It’s a good matchup because obviously they’re going to have a bigger, slower four on me and a bigger, slower four on Jackson,” Ahmad said. “Defensively, I think we’re both fast enough and versatile enough to be able to scramble around, crash the boards and get the rebound and be able to go.”

Tons of the oranges’ offense ran through Ahmad, an uptick that will likely continue for the Titans after the departure of Big West-leading scorer Tre’ Coggins.

“I’m ready for it,” Ahmad said. “A little bit more of the load will be on my back, but I also have great teammates to help me out.”

Like Ahmad, Rowe — the only Titan voted onto the media preseason all-conference team — is also expected to take on an increased role. The 6-foot-7-inch forward showed off his versatility by knocking down a few jumpers and finishing around the rim.

“They (coaches) want me to focus more on scoring in the paint and then working toward the outside from there,” Rowe said. “The more I score in the paint, the easier it is for my teammates to get paint touches.”

After finishing third in the Big West during the regular season last year, CSUF received one first-place vote and was picked to finish third in the Big West in the preseason media poll, its highest rank since the 2012-13 season.

The Titans couldn’t live up to that in one scrimmage, but Taylor liked what he saw.

“If we are on the same page and the ball is moving and we can get into the paint, good things can happen for this group,” Taylor said.

The Titans will play their first of two exhibition games when they host La Verne Saturday Nov. 4 before starting the regular season with a road matchup against the University of Southern California Nov. 10.

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