UW vs. Fresno State men’s hoops Q&A

Here is my question-and-answer session with Robert Kuwada, who covers Fresno State men’s basketball for the Fresno Bee, about Wednesday’s game with the University of Wyoming.

Robert Kuwada

Robert Kuwada

Tip off is at 7 p.m. MT at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie

Follow on Twitter: @rkuwada

What is the health status of the Bulldogs heading into this game as they were without four frontcourt players in their last game at Nevada?

Fresno State will go into the game short, but could have at least one player back. Forward Torren Jones has been ruled out and forward Karachi Edo and center Terrell Carter II are doubtful. Forward Paul Watson (calf) could be back, but coach Rodney Terry said they are not going to push and risk further injury. Watson would be a critical piece against the Cowboys – he defended Josh Adams most of the second half in that first matchup down here and he was 3 of 12 over those 18 or so minutes.

Fresno State’s win over first-place San Diego State last week showed how good the Bulldogs are, but aside from the recent rash of injuries and illnesses, what has led to some of the inconsistent play with this group? 

That’s a very good question. It’s a bit weird for an older team with guys like Marvelle Harris, Cezar Guerrero and Julien Lewis that have played a lot of college basketball, but the consistency of effort hasn’t always been there. I think the loss at San Jose State with a chance to win a third conference game in a row was a tipping point, though, because they have been a lot more competitive since even while missing some key pieces. The Bulldogs beat UNLV without Jones, who had 18 points and eight rebounds in the first meeting. They beat San Diego State without Jones and Edo and with Watson going down early in the second half. They came from 13 down in the second half to force overtime before losing at Nevada, losing Carter that morning. They’re just are competing much better now than they did early in the year.

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UW at Fresno State men’s basketball Q&A

Here is my question-and-answer session with Robert Kuwada, who covers Fresno State men’s basketball for the Fresno Bee, about Tuesday’s game with the University of Wyoming.

Tip off is at 8 p.m. MT at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.

Follow on Twitter: @rkuwada

How would you assess the Bulldogs’ season so far at 13-7 overall and 4-3 in the Mountain West? Is the team where you thought it would be at this point in the season?

Robert Kuwada

Robert Kuwada

For a team with three seniors in Marvelle Harris, Cezar Guerrero and Julien Lewis and a couple of others that have played a lot of basketball in the Mountain West, the Bulldogs have been pretty inconsistent. Fresno State has not won back-to-back games against Division I opponents since Dec. 12 and 16 against Pacific and Bakersfield (263 and 167 RPI), and in conference play have followed up every win with a loss. We’ll see what happens against Wyoming, coming off a win at Air Force. They haven’t won more than two in a row since starting 5-0. The ability to get on a run is there, though. This is by far the best team coach Rodney Terry has had at Fresno State, which was a sizable rebuild job when he got there. This could be the Bulldogs’s best chance to go on a run with Wyoming at home, followed by a game at San Jose State before playing at home against UNLV (they beat the Rebels at Thomas & Mack) and San Diego State (they took the Aztecs to overtime at Viejas).

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Players weigh in on toughest places to play in MW men’s basketball

I caught up with players from all 11 Mountain West teams and asked them the toughest places to play in the league during MW Men’s Basketball Media Day in Las Vegas.

As you will see, no big surprises where some of the toughest places are, but it’s still fun to see some of the players’ reactions.

G Josh Adams, Sr., Wyoming: New Mexico. Packed house. Very loud. Their fans know everything about you, and they know basketball.”

G Marqueze Coleman, Sr., Nevada: San Diego State and New Mexico. The crowds there are incredible.

G/F Tyron Criswell, Sr., Nevada: San Diego State. Their student section was wild. You couldn’t hear anything. We had to coach ourselves.

G Joe De Ciman, Sr., Colorado State: The Pit at New Mexico. You walk down that ramp and that’s what college basketball is all about.

F Tiel Daniels, Sr. Colorado State: The Pit.

G/F Anthony Drmic, Sr., Boise State: Colorado State, Wyoming, Utah State. Especially Wyoming with the altitude. 

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Preseason MW all-conference team, predicted order of finish

The Mountain West released men’s basketball preseason all-conference team and predicted order of finish Tuesday morning as it began its two-day media day activities in Las Vegas.

Here’s the link to the preseason all-conference team and preseason poll.

http://www.wyosports.net/uw-s-adams-named-to-preseason-all-mw-men-s/article_478a6bac-71b8-11e5-a794-0b5624a75e3a.html

I was one of those media members, and here’s how I voted:

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

Josh Adams

Josh Adams

Winston Shepard – Forward – San Diego State
Anthony Drmic – Guard/Forward – Boise State
James Webb III – Forward – Boise State
Marvelle Harris – Guard – Fresno State
Josh Adams – Guard – Wyoming

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winston Shepard – Forward – San Diego State
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Stephen Zimmerman, Jr. – Forward – UNLV
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Jerome Seagears – Guard – UNLV

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1 San Diego State
2 Boise State
3 Utah State
4 UNLV
5 Fresno State
6 New Mexico
7 Colorado State
8 Nevada
9 Wyoming
10 Air Force
11 San Jose State

I nailed the all-conference team, and when it was released one of the Las Vegas media members seemed surprised Adams was on the list. I differed some on the player and newcomer of the year.

I had Wyoming one spot lower than the preseason poll. Hope I am wrong about that.

Let me know what you think, folks. Do you agree or disagree with any of this stuff?

3 takes from Wyoming’s 64-59 loss to Fresno State

Here are my three takes from Wyoming’s 64-59 home loss to Fresno State Wednesday night at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

1. The better team — on this night — won: As UW coach Larry Shyatt said — along with the players — Fresno State beat the Cowboys based on the fact UW had 14 turnovers (compared to 13 in its previous two games), was outrebounded 12-6 on the offensive glass and made only 8 of 13 free throws in the second half. That pretty much sums it up. Fresno State, one of the top teams in the nation in steals, had eight in the game. It turned 14 turnovers into 17 points, and those 12 offensive rebounds into 15 points. I also thought what Shyatt said was accurate about how this game was a lot like several others UW played this season — especially in conference play. Close late in the game, but more often than not, UW made the plays down the stretch to win. In this game, it didn’t.

Here is Shyatt after the game:


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UW at Fresno State: 3 keys for the Cowboys, video preview

Here are my three keys for No. 25 Wyoming when it plays at Fresno State at 5 p.m. MT Saturday at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.

1. Take care of the ball: UW had 13 turnovers, including eight in the first half, in its 60-52 home loss to San Diego State Wednesday. The Cowboys have been better recently in turning the ball over less in the second halves of games. But it must do this from start to finish and not allow Fresno State to build a lot of early momentum.

2. Get to the line: The Cowboys were 33 of 44 from the free-throw line in their 72-66 win over Fresno State last season in Laramie. The Cowboys got to the line only 13 times against San Diego State. Whether it is getting the ball inside to senior forward Larry Nance Jr., or having its guards drive to the basket to draw contact, the Cowboys must get to the free-throw line more today.

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UW-Fresno State men’s hoops Q&A

Robert Kuwada

Robert Kuwada

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Robert Kuwada, who covers Fresno State men’s basketball for the Fresno Bee, about Saturday’s game with the University of Wyoming. Tip-off is at 5 p.m. MT at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.

Follow on Twitter: @rkuwada

He’s only been back for one game, but what kind of impact do you think junior point guard Cezar Guerrero will have on the Bulldogs?

Guerrero helps them a lot, just from a depth standpoint. I would expect he will work his way back into the starting lineup down the road, but he can play at the one and the two

Cesar Guerrero

Cesar Guerrero

(the year he was at Oklahoma State he played off the ball) and having another guy that can score the ball shouldn’t hurt. The Bulldogs went through a stretch where they didn’t have a lot of options and they have not had a lot of scoring off the bench. In the first four Mountain West games before Guerrero became eligible, the bench had scored only 33 points and 19 of that came from Marvelle Harris, who did not start at New Mexico after showing up late for a practice.

After a slow start to the season, Fresno State has won four in a row and are tied for the league lead. What has changed that’s led to the improved play?

They got healthy, really. Julien Lewis, the Texas transfer, missed 18 days of preseason practice due to a concussion and got off to a very slow start. Forward Alex Davis suffered a high ankle sprain in a preseason scrimmage, and he was not close to ready at the start of the season. He tried to play, but they ended up shutting him down for close to a month. It’s not like they were doing some stuff in practice and just not playing – they weren’t even able to practice. But both of those guys are much better now than they were one month ago. Paul Watson got off to a slow start shooting the ball, as well, so they were pretty limited. That’s three starters right there. The inexperience at the point guard position also hurt them – they had three games at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Florida that they lost by six or fewer points and could have won all of them had they managed the late-game situations with the ball better. One of those losses is to Marist, which is 1-15. So, they’re healthy now. They’ve had some time to practice and play together with all of their pieces. The play at the point has improved with Emmanuel Owootoah and Harris, and now with Guerrero returning.

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UW-Fresno St. men’s basketball Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Robert Kuwada, who covers Fresno State men’s basketball for the Fresno Bee, about Tuesday’s game with the University of Wyoming at 7:05 p.m. at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie. The game will be televised on Root Sports.

Follow on Twitter: @rkuwada

The Bulldogs have won five straight, which started with a 67-62 win over Wyoming Jan. 29. What have the Bulldogs done well to go on this run?

Simple as it sounds, they’re just competing much better. It started with a 19-point loss at Colorado State, in which the Rams just bullied them down the final 10 minutes and ran away from them. Colorado State was a plus-16 on the boards, scored 30 points in the paint and hit 52.4 percent of its shots in the second half, which for that team is a big number. In beating the Rams on Saturday, they turned a lot of those numbers completely around. In the first half, Fresno State had an 18-4 edge in points in the paint, hit 53.8 percent of the shots it took and held up better on the glass. The Bulldogs also forced 11 turnovers in the first half against a team that hadn’t turned it over that many times in 20 of its first 25 games.

They flew home after that loss in Fort Collins and went straight from the airport to the gym and practiced for two hours, which they never do, working on box-outs and getting after the 50-50 balls and just playing a stronger game. They needed to get tougher, and they have.

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UW-Fresno State men’s hoops Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Robert Kuwada, who covers Fresno State men’s basketball for the Fresno Bee, about Wednesday’s game with the University of Wyoming at 8 p.m. at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif.

Follow on Twitter: @rkuwada

Despite its record the Bulldogs have been close in a lot of conference games, including going to overtime in the last two. What are the struggles with this team right now?

The Bulldogs are just young and have had trouble making plays to finish games. The double-overtime loss to Nevada they had the lead at the end of regulation and gave up a layup to Deonte Burton to tie with about 15 seconds to go and then couldn’t get much of a shot coming out of a timeout, and then in the first overtime they had a lead and let Cole Huff get to the rim for a layup with one second to go. Layups … That logically can’t happen, but it did.

They made similar mistakes in the overtime loss at UNLV, only at the offensive end. UNLV gave them a lot of chances to win it in regulation and the overtime, but they couldn’t make a play. A freshman turned the ball over on one key possession. They got switched into a tough shot on another. They rushed a put-back just ahead of the buzzer and missed that.

They’re taking some lumps learning how to really compete and succeed at this level.

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