Best College Player (2008)

Scott Cutley, Cal State Fullerton Basketball

Ah, the Titans-Eaters rivalry. Last year, it was all about the horsehide, with UC Irvine's nine breaking through Fullerton's long diamond dominance on their way to the semifinals of the College World Series. (Which pissed off Titans AD Brian Quinn so bad that he went out and hired away UCI head coach Dave Serrano.) This year, neither baseball squad made the series, but OC had something else to cheer for: MARCH MADNESS, BAYBEE!!! (Yeah, we hate Dick Vitale, too.) For the first time since the 1978 squad's unlikely run to the Elite Eight, the Titans men's basketball team qualified for the NCAA championship tournament. Okay, so they got rolled in their first game by a bunch of big, tall Badgers from Wisconsin. But just making the Big Dance was a huge achievement for coach Bob Burton's motley crew of transfers. Several standout players led this high-scoring-yet-undersized squad to a Big West championship (over the hated Eaters in the title game, of course) and the highest Division I victory total in school history, notably Josh Akognon and Frank Robinson, but tough-guy forward Cutley gets our nod here. Hey, who are we to disagree with the coaches of the Big West who had to game-plan for this 6-foot-5, 235-pound blue-collar bruiser? They voted the Kent State transfer the conference's co-player of the year. But Burton summed up Cutley's importance to the team best: Recalling how he felt when Cutley went down to a broken ankle on the second day of practice, Burton told The Orange County Register, "I almost threw up." Fortunately for Burton's stomach—and the team's fortunes—Cutley missed only three games. And the rest was Titans history.


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