#BWCWarmUp Fall Preview - Cal State Fullerton
BigWest.org chatted with Cal State Fullerton head coaches Demian Brown (women's soccer), George Kuntz (men's soccer) and Carolyn Zimmerman (women's volleyball) to preview the upcoming 2014 season.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN 2014
Balancing Act: The hot button word for the incoming freshman class: balance. Head coach Demian Brown says the new class brings talented and athletic goal-scoring threats while also bolstering the defensive line with two outstanding keepers who will challenge Jen Stuart everyday in training.
Upperclassman On The Attack: Christina Burkenroad. The sophomore netted two goals in 2013 and is expected to play a big role in the Titans’ attack this season. Brown says, “Her junior year is the right time to step up and really make a name for herself.”
Follow The Leader: Forward Rebecca Wilson, who suffered a season-ending injury in 2013, will be back on the pitch this fall and has been named a captain alongside Morgan Batcheller and Chelsey Patterson. The three will play a large role in filling upperclassman vacancies left by Erica Mazeau, Nikki McCants and Janali West. The three who will anchor the Titans this season combined for four goals, one game-winner and eight points in 2013.
Worthy Competitors: The 2014 schedule is one of the most challenging Brown’s squad has ever faced as the Titans face programs such as BYU, Denver, Michigan State and Georgia. The collective record of the four opponents in 2013 was 49-26-13.
Challenge Accepted: Brown challenged the CSF student body to show up in droves at the Oct. 9 match against conference rival Long Beach State. Brown promised that if 500 or more students attend the game, he will attend a future men’s basketball game as Tuffy, the school’s mascot. Last season, the heated rivalry game ended in a 1-1 draw.
QUOTABLES – DEMIAN BROWN
(On focus during spring training): “The biggest focus for us immediately after the season was the time and energy that we put into our attack and what we do in the attacking third of the field…We defend very well and what we want to do is maintain that but do a bit better going forward in the attack.”
(On plan of attack to score more goals in 2014): “Just a bit more creativity in the attack, taking a bit more risk in the attack and then the biggest part, the thing that we stressed the most with our women is just execution of the final touch, being better in that final moment.”
(On team’s attitude): “The culture of the program is one of, focused fun.”
(On how 2013 NCAA experience will benefit 2014 squad): “More than anything I think it’s a taste that the women had and experienced and I think it’s a taste that all of them want to have again. And once you get that taste, they want to do that again.”
(On preparation for 2014 season): “It’s something that we talked about in the spring, talked about the fact that there are teams in our conference that are doing the things that they’re supposed to be doing. They’re pushing and they’re recruiting. They’re pushing in their scheduling. They’re pushing in their training and it’s important for us to push more than what we did to get to where we were last year and I think that’s something that we’ve really stressed through our training.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
0 Official minutes the 2013 Big West Tournament MVP, former CSF goalkeeper Katie Pulliam, logged before receiving the honor. Pulliam entered for the Titans in the semifinals and finals of the Big West Tournament when both games went into penalty kicks. Pulliam won both games for her team
2 The Big West’s 2013 NCAA participant will face two teams in the fall that also competed in the Tournament – BYU (Aug. 22) and Denver (Aug. 29) as part of a season-opening four-match homestand
4 Total number of Big West Tournament titles for the program – 2005, 2006, 2007 and most recently in 2013
7 What the Titans seek in terms of number of regular season championships in 2014
8 Overtime matches played in last season (the most of any program in the conference), finishing with either a tie or a victory in all eight
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN 2014
A Vision For The Present: Make no mistake about it. George Kuntz wants to build a winner at Cal State Fullerton, and he feels confident that a blueprint is in place to make that happen. After 19 years as the head coach at Big West rival UC Irvine, Kuntz left the place he built into a soccer power, tallying four NCAA Tournament appearances, four Big West Tournament championships and three regular season titles since 2008. He brings energy and a template for rebuilding programs, and he seeks to alter a culture for a Titan program that hasn’t experienced a winning season since 2000. Year one will be intriguing as he attempts to build a winning mentality with players he mostly inherited.
A Vision of the Past and for The Future: Kuntz is well aware of the history of Cal State Fullerton men’s soccer. He knows the 1993 and 1994 teams reached the Final Four and Elite Eight, respectively. And he wants to return CSF to those glory days. Mindful of the recruiting hotbed in Orange County, and surrounding communities such as Chino and Pomona, Kuntz is confident that players who once opted to take their talents out of the area will prefer to stay home and play at Titan Stadium, a place he feels is one of the best venues in the United States for college soccer. Having come on board in December, the full impact of his recruiting efforts may not be felt until 2015, but fans will get a chance to see what some of the new faces can do this season.
Year One To Year Two: Kuntz is high on senior forwards Marc Fenelus and Amara Soumah. The duo transferred to Fullerton last year, and didn’t duplicate the goal-scoring prowess they had exhibited at the junior college level. But Kuntz cited that going from JC to Division I is a tough adjustment, and he’s excited that he may have two of the top players in the conference with a year of experience under their belts.
Goalie Grind: A fresh face certainly will patrol between the pipes in 2014. The Titans do not have a returning goalkeeper on the roster. At press time, CSF had not announced its fall signees, but Kuntz believes his staff has an incoming transfer who represents a significant upgrade at the position. The Titans finished last in goals against average (1.57) in 2013. Meanwhile, Kuntz’s final UCI squad sported the Big West’s best GAA – 0.80.
The Gauge: CSF will find out early on where it stands in the non-conference schedule. The Titans face a pair of 2013 NCAA Tournament squads in Northwestern and UMBC, as well as postseason caliber teams such as San Diego, Santa Clara and San Francisco. Former Titan assistant Eddie Soto heads up the Dons.
QUOTABLES – GEORGE KUNTZ
(On taking lessons of success from UC Irvine to Cal State Fullerton): “We need to show this country that there is no conference that will be better than the Big West. I’ve already been part of the growth of the conference (at UCI) in the last six years. I think we’ve demonstrated that there’s no team in the conference that’s won more games, more conference tournaments, more conference titles in the last six years, and I absolutely know the template for what it’s going to take at Cal State Fullerton. I think that the key really is having the infrastructure and the support to go one step beyond, and that is what I’m here for. I absolutely know that this program has had the ability to achieve greatness. The program itself has demonstrated the ability to do that in the past.”
(On Titan Stadium): “You walk into that stadium, and as a soccer player your jaw drops. It’s a special place. I want to make it a special place again. I want to make it so difficult for anybody to walk in there and play as an opponent.”
(On changing the attitude of the returning players): “One thing that I do bring is a winning mentality. The biggest thing that I’ve had to change is the culture – the belief. I saw a lot of body language when I came in – frustration – and now I see excitement, alertness and hunger. They want to be great. I think what you’re seeing now is a group of guys that want to be pushed and accountable, and show the rest of the conference that they’re competitive.”
(On the style of play): “I’ve always wanted to play an attractive, attacking style. A very solid, organized defensive group – that’s kind of been our brand. There’s a lot of flair going forward, but responsibility at the back. We all know the old adage ‘defense wins championships,’ and that’s the key. But the other side of it is the ability to create something new and exciting for college soccer in the United States. You have the ability to create an exciting brand.”
(On playing against former school UC Irvine): “I see it as another league game. It will be phenomenal for the media; it will be phenomenal for college soccer; it will be phenomenal for the local community to escalate that rivalry. But to me, it’s another game. Will there be emotions? Absolutely. You don’t invest 19 years of your life somewhere, and not get emotional about it.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
11 Returning Titan players who scored at least one goal in 2013
19 Number of seasons Kuntz served at UC Irvine as the men’s head soccer coach before heading to Cal State Fullerton
141 Kuntz’s victory total as a member of the Big West, ranking second all-time
2000 The last year that the Titan program produced a winning season
10,000 Seating capacity at Titan Stadium
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN 2014
Can You Dig It?: Cal State Fullerton, known for its defense over the years, concluded the 2013 season ranked ninth in the nation in digs with a 17.66 average. The 2013 Titans were led by McKenna Painton, who posted a league-best 4.59 average in her freshman campaign, and Bre Moreland who sat eighth in the Big West with a 3.50 mark. The Titans lost Moreland in the offseason due to graduation, but Painton, a 2013 Big West All-Freshman Team honoree, returns to the lineup to lead the charge while defensive specialists/liberos senior Devin Ulmer, sophomore Delaney Gurol and freshman Skyler Thomas look to fill Moreland’s void.
Crenshaw’s Climb: It is safe to say that middle blocker Holland Crenshaw has made huge strides between her freshman and sophomore seasons. In her first season donning blue and orange she finished fifth on the team in both kills (119) and points (186) and a year later she moved up to third in both categories with 219 kills and 262.5 points. The Santa Barbara, Calif., native was responsible for 16% of the Titans’ points in 2013, a seven-percent jump from the previous year. The coaching staff expects her growth to continue in 2014 and be a leader on and off the court.
Filling The Void: Cal State Fullerton’s lineup took a hit in the offseason, losing 2013 All-Big West Conference honorees Bre Moreland and Alyse Hensley, and setter Julie Consani. Hensley and Moreland, both significant contributors on both sides of the net, finished among the Big West leaders in kills and kills per set in 2013. Hensley’s final kills per set average was 3.14 and Moreland’s was 3.16, both top 10. A few members of the 2014 incoming class, which received High Honorable Mention honors by PrepVolleyball, will be vying for the spots left by the All-Big West duo. Consani finished 2013 ranked second in the league in assists with an 11.08 average, which earned her the 10th spot in CSF’s single-season record book, while concluding her Titan career with 2,077 career assists to sit sixth in the school’s annals. She will likely be replaced by University of Delaware transfer Mackenzie Olsen.
Fullerton Brings In New Help: Along with a handful of new recruits, Cal State Fullerton has two new additions to the coaching staff with the off-season hiring of Kevin Hitt and David Butler. Hitt was head coach at Villa Park High School for 15 years and produced a 253-116 record and later served as an assistant coach at several colleges, while Butler spent time as the Long Beach State volunteer assistant coach.
Consistency From The Top: With several changes to the roster and coaching personnel over the years, one thing has remained consistent and that is Head Coach Carolyn Zimmerman. Entering her 13th season at the helm of the Titans women’s volleyball program, Zimmerman is tied for third for most tenured active Big West coach. Cal State Fullerton’s all-time winningest coach has amassed an all-time record of 173-185 (.483) and captured Big West Coach of the Year honors in 2010 after guiding the Titans to their first conference championship.
QUOTABLES – CAROLYN ZIMMERMAN
(On the team): “We have a young squad and a lot of new faces representing Titan volleyball and we expect to have them make an impact on the court.”
(On Mackenzie Olsen): “A newcomer that I think will step up and be a real leader just by virtue of the position is Mackenzie Olsen. She reminds me of a setter I had in the past and is kind of an old soul. She is very humble but leads the team in many different ways, not only with her words but with her non-verbal language and her ability to set the offense.”
(On keys to success in 2014): “I think the expectation every time we are on the court is to walk off the court with a ‘W’. We have a wide variety of opponents on our schedule in the preseason and have some legitimate opportunities for wins. It will depend on how the players step into the roles that we expect them to fill, their abilities to be efficient on the offensive end and our abilities to take our opponents out of system.”
(On the strength of the Big West): ”I think the Big West is just going to continue like we have seen in the past couple of years. There is a lot of parity and on any given night wins can be exchanged by teams that haven’t necessarily been in the national spotlight. I hope, which will be different than years previous, that there is more respect drawn to the Big West.”
(On the parity of the Big West): “I think people on the outside think that the level of volleyball has dropped in the Big West, when in fact the bottom has gotten much more competitive with the top and I think it is high time that the respect is given. The teams have the responsibility to continue to prove themselves and show the national public what the Big West is doing and the level of volleyball we are capable of playing.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
1 Senior on Cal State Fullerton’s 2014 youthful roster
4 First-time opponents featured on the Titans roster
6 McKenna Painton’s ranking in CSF’s single-season digs per set with a 4.59 mark her freshman year (2013)
73 Percentage of wins Cal State Fullerton recorded by virtue of a sweep last season
2010 Year Cal State Fullerton captured its first Big West women’s volleyball title