Friday, January 23, 2009

SJSU - Fresno St. on Saturday night

We love dogs. We mean really love 'em, bulldogs among them. But not Bulldogs, and you know why.

So them Raisintown Bulldogs are coming to Walt McPherson Court Saturday night. But one difference from the earlier SJSU - FSU contest is that Steve Cleveland's squad is coming off its first WAC win, having taken down Louisiana Tech on Thursday.

'Dogs drop guard, win
One-game suspension of O'Neil doesn't cost a victory.
Daniel Lyght
The Fresno Bee

Louisiana Tech had Dwight O'Neil where it wanted him during Thursday night's game at the Save Mart Center - in jeans and a letterman-style jacket on the bench.

Fresno State's starting point guard was suspended for the game for inappropriate behavior during and after Fresno State's previous game at Nevada.

The Bulldogs did just fine without him, however. Freshman Bryce Cartwright filled in at point guard and the Bulldogs thumped Louisiana Tech 63-46 at the Save Mart Center, snapping their four-game losing streak.

"I know we've been waiting for a while for a win in league," coach Steve Cleveland said. "We had some opportunities [in past games] but it feels good to get a win."

Cleveland said O'Neil was remorseful and will play against San Jose State on Saturday. He explained in part why O'Neil, the team's lone senior and third-leading scorer, was suspended. O'Neil was not made available to the media.

"You need to be a good teammate, you need to conduct yourself in a manner that exhibits good sportsmanship and that didn't happen after that game," Cleveland said. "It's not behavior that's conducive to anyone but certainly when you're a fifth-year senior, and captain, there is an expectation that is much higher."

In O'Neil's absence, Cartwright scored 12 points and dished out four assists, with four turnovers, as he successfully got the Bulldogs into their half-court sets and also conducted transition breaks well.

"He got some opportunities in transition and hit big shots," Cleveland said. "He has demonstrated during the year that he can do that. His Achilles' heel is you have to get him in the mode of moving his feet defensively. Sometimes he gets soft and wanders as freshmen sometimes do. But he distributed the ball and played with confidence."

That doesn't mean O'Neil is out as starting point guard, though.

"Yes, I think there is going to be more opportunities for Dwight to play his natural position [wing]," Cleveland said. "But I also know how this game goes. With freshmen you get some inconsistencies. ... Dwight will continue to have two roles on this team, but it's always nice if a freshman point guard can come in and give you those kinds of minutes."

Cartwright's solid play helped Fresno State not only break a losing streak but a trend of missed opportunities.

First, the Bulldogs lost to San Jose State at home in an overtime game they had all but won in regulation. The Bulldogs then played Utah State and Nevada on the road, with opportunities to win late in both of those games.

The Bulldogs came out with the same energy as their previous road games, though, made confidence-building baskets early and played opportunistic defense. Execution against the half-court trap helped them to a 10-0 run early and three straight steals and a Mychal Ladd reverse layup in transition sparked a 17-6 run later in the first half that gave Fresno State a 36-29 lead.

Tech's Jamel Guyton, who led all scorers with 17 points, hit five 3s in the first half, but was 0 for 4 in the second half. Kyle Gibson, Tech's leading scorer with 15.4 points per game heading into Thursday, scored six points. Tech was held to 14 second-half points, a Save Mart Center record low. Tech missed every second-half 3-pointer and shot 18.8% in the half.

The Bulldogs offense struggled to open the second half, failing to score a field goal for the first 5:03. But a 17-2 run would seal it for the Bulldogs.

"To win our first [conference] game at home it means a lot to us," Ned Golubovic said. "Our confidence is back and our emotions ... We're a young team and emotion's a big part of our game."

In that January 10th 71-68 Spartan victory in Fresno, SJSU put up 14 more shots than Fresno State, 69 to 55.

Neither team did well from long distance. San Jose State shot 2-16, the Bulldogs 6-26 but FSU also went just 8-18 from the foul line.

The Spartans also out-boarded the Bulldogs 44-35, with 16 of the 44 being of the offensive variety. Fresno State had matched 2008-2009 opponents rebound for rebound up to then.

And for some inexplicable reason or reasons, the Bulldogs went solely long distance in the overtime period, attempting seven trey attempts and misfiring on every one.

Here's our writeup from that game:

Spartans win 71-68 in overtime

It was the tale of two halves -- a high-scoring first one and a low-scoring second -- this despite the same two teams participating. The Spartans took a while but closed a nine point deficit at the half to a single possession with seven minutes left. The battle continued to the end and it was a tie -- 63-63 -- when the buzzer sounded.

Overtime commenced and both Dwight O'Neill and Sylvester Seay then missed on Fresno shot attempts. Mac Peterson scored on a layup for SJSU, benefiting from a Justin Graham assist.

Seay followed with a runner to tie the game back up.

Peterson missed the next shot but then so did Bulldog Mychal Ladd. After SJSU grabbed the rebound, Seay stole it and fed Paul George for a dunk.

With 1:55 on the clock, Graham was fouled and he put down both free throws to knot the score once more.

FSU's Bryce Cartwright then missed a trey attempt but C.J. Webster also subsequently misfired inside and Dwight O'Neill rebounded.

He was fouled, making the first but missing the second, giving the Bulldogs a one point lead.

San Jose State came down and Webster was fouled with 34 seconds left. He made both free throws to give the Spartans a one point margin.

O'Neill subsequently tried a three-pointer but fired an air ball. Spartan center Chris Oakes grabbed the ball, was fouled and netted both his free throws, extending the SJSU lead to three.

FSU brought the ball down and Seay and O'Neill both misfired on three-point attempts.

To get to the extra period, Webster nailed two free throws with 15.2 seconds left in the game to cut the Fresno lead to two, 62-60. Ladd was then fouled -- he missed his first shot and made the second, giving the home team a three-point margin.

SJSU-er Graham was fouled with a 1-and-1 awaiting him. He made the first, missed the second but Webster grabbed the offensive rebound and scored to even the game. O'Neill missed a shot near the buzzer and it meant five more minutes of play.

Webster led the Spartans with 23 points, followed by Chris Oakes with 14, Robert Owens 13 and Justin Graham 11 points.

DeShawn Wright and Robert Owens were in the SJSU starting lineup replacing the injured and unable to play Tim Pierce and Adrian Oliver.

It was 44-35 at the half. With three minutes gone, both teams had nine points. Later on, it was 15-12 San Jose State, with the Spartans having connected on seven of their first 10 shots. At the 10:46 mark, it was 19 points apiece. Fresno State then gradually began pulling away and the initial half end with the nine point Bulldog lead.

Fresno State WAC Schedule To Date

1/03/09 vs. New Mexico State L, 79-66
1/10/09 vs. San Jose State L, 71-68 (OT)
1/15/09 at Utah State L, 65-61
1/17/09 at Nevada L, 65-60
1/22/09 vs. Louisiana Tech W, 63-46

The Fresno State Starting Five

Nedeljko Golubovic 6-8 230 - He is averaging 7.6 ppg. and 4.7 rebounds contest. His shooting percentage is down a bit from last season and he's settled in as the fifth shooting option on the team. It appears he would be more comfortable swinging between the corner spot and possibly a little time at the wing but Fresno needs him inside as often as possible.

Sylvester Seay 6-9 215 - An Arizona State transfer, he's another guy who can and likes to play both out and in the paint but his duties this season by necessity have generally put him closer to the basket. He's at 13.1 ppg. and 4.9 rpg. and he's the top Bulldog shotblocker.

Paul George 6-7 185 - He leads the team in scoring at 15.3 ppg., in rebounding with 7.1 caroms a contest and in steals. His height makes him an ideal wing -- tall enough to get good looks and quick enough to dribble-drive. There's NBA written all over this kid with continued development.

Dwight O'Neil
6-3 190 - The lone Bulldog senior, he's at 12.7 ppg. and 4.9 boards each time out and he leads the squad in 80 assists. His shooting has been less than desired -- 41% and 29% respectively -- but he's still a dangerous scorer and has taken a great deal of pressure off his freshman point teammate.

Bryce Cartwright 5-11 160 - He's contributed more than expected, shooting fairly well but more so in compiling a solid assist-to-turnover ratio.

The Bulldog Bench

Mychal Ladd
6-5 175 - Take him in any athletic competition as he is a primo athlete. Ladd is scoring 9.5 ppg. and nabbing 3.5 rpg. while shooting 51% from the floor. At 89%, he is also the best free throw shooter on the team. Ladd is a sometimes starter and may be in the opening quintet on Saturday.

Brian Seals 6-8 215 - Defense and rebounding is what you get from him.

Brandon Webster 6-10 275 - He's a cousin to C.J. Webster and has enjoyed productive moments against SJSU.

Fresno State leads the WAC in blocked shot with 6+ a game. Sylvester Seay leads the squad with 2 shotblocks a matchup.

*** The Bulldogs are second in steal per contest with a 7+ average.

*** Paul George leads the Dogs with 14.6 ppg. and 7.2 rebounds a contest in WAC play.

*** Dwight O'Neill tops the conference with 6.5 asists each time out.

The Bulldog Roster (by position, alphabetically)

Jordan Ambers G 5-11 175 junior
Bryce Cartwright G 5-11 160 freshman
Paul George G 6-7 185 freshman
Myles Green G 5-10 180 sophomore
Taylor Kelly G 6-3 200 freshman
Mychal Ladd G 6-5 175 freshman
Dwight O'Neil G 6-3 190 senior
Brandon Sperling G 6-4 180 freshman

Nedeljko Golubovic F 6-8 230sophomore
Justin Johnson F 6-7 185 freshman
Brian Seals F 6-8 215 junior
Sylvester Seay F 6-9 215 junior

Brandon Webster C 6-10 275 sophomore


Sylvester Seay scored 32 points against Utah State in a 65-61 Bulldog loss to the Aggies. Afterwards, he let go with this bulletin board fodder quote: “You’re going to have problems [guarding] me before I have problems with you. Nobody could guard me. It's not about somebody guarding me, it's about making my shots. If I make my shots I can do that every game. And as far as [Wilkinson] guarding me, no, he couldn't."

Actually, Seay went 11-24 shooting that night -- a not exactly 'en fuego' unstoppable ratio.

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