Tuesday, December 28, 2010

At Fresno State, Wednesday night, 7 p.m.

Yes, they are departing for the Mountain West Conference plus the Fresno State - San Jose State basketball matchups don't carry the juice of yesteryear but it's still nice to top the Raisin-towners anytime and anywhere. Next up on the schedule is a December 29 evening get-together in the Save Mart Center.

So who does Coach Steve Cleveland (yes, it's lame but shouldn't he be leading Cleveland State?) have and how are the Bulldogs doing?

As for the latter, uh, not that well.

Disregarding the game against Vanguard, the Bulldog squad started out 0-4 but has won three of its last four games, albeit the latter against lesser competition than initially faced this season.

6-foot-7 sophomore wing Jerry Brown is redshirting due to injury but junior point Steven Shepp just re-gained his eligibility after missing the first nine games due to academics. He started last season, averaging 5.5 points and 4.6 assists. Against North Dakota State in his first game, Shepp totaled three points, three assists and three rebounds in 15 minutes of action.

The key personnel issue emanating out of Fresno is the subpar numbers being put up by sophomore center Greg Smith. He's been in what seems like a season-long funk -- 9.7 points & 6.0 rebounds a contest when a nightly double-double was the expectation -- and Cleveland recently offered this on his NBA prospect:

"Greg Smith has to play hard all the time -- that's the bottom line...When he plays hard, he'll be a part of this. When he doesn't play hard, someone else is going to play...There are no chosen ones here. Promise you that."

Part of the Smith equation is the inconsistent outside shooting displayed to date by the Bulldog smalls which had led to little room for Smith to maneuver.

In a new category, here's what we see so far:

Highlights: the play of Kevin Olekaibe who was more a shooter/scorer in high school but is playing the point for now -- he's a tremendous athlete who gets up and down the floor quickly

Lowlights: The regression of Greg Smith.

Fresno Season-To-Date

11/12/10 at BYU L, 83-56
11/17/10 vs. Vanguard W, 74-42
11/20/10 at UCSB L, 69-54
11/26/10 vs. Washington State L, 66-55
11/30/10 at Utah L, 76-63
12/04/10 at Colorado State L, 87-74
12/07/10 at San Diego W, 74-70
12/11/10 vs. Pepperdine W, 64-51
12/18/10 vs. North Dakota State W, 82-69
12/21/10 vs. Pacific L, 65-55

The Bulldog Starting Five

* Greg Smith 6-foot-10 sophomore -- 9.7 points, 6 rebounds a game, shooting 58% overall, 48% from the foul line, 17 blocks in 10 games, will the NBA prospect 'show up' or display more disinterest?

* Nedeljko Golubovic 6-foot-8 senior -- he was hurt last season yet continued playing, he's averaging 6.1 points & 5.0 boards a game, shooting just 32% overall, plus a third of his shots have been three-pointers and he is making just 22%

* Garrett Johnson 6-foot-4 sophomore -- 8.1 ppg., 40 of 66 shots have been three-pointers, shooting 41% overall, 35% from long distance

* Tim Steed 6-foot-4 junior -- 8.3 ppg., 4.7 rpg., shooting 45% overall, only nine three-point attempts, an inexplicable 47% at the foul line

* Kevin Olekaibe 6-foot-1 freshman -- 10.3 ppg., 61 of his 109 shots have been threes, shooting 37% overall, 31% from beyond the stripe, leads team with 17 steals and 24 assists

As a team, the Bulldogs are at 41% shooting overall while holding opponents to 43%. From three, it's a meager 27% -- very unlike previous Fresno State squads.

Key Reserves

* Steven Shepp 6-foot-2 junior -- just eligible, he's not a penetrator but passes well on the perimeter

* Tyler Johnson 6-foot-2 freshman -- out of St. Francis in Mountain View

* Bracken Funk 6-foot-8 freshman -- 7.7 points & 4.7 rebounds a game, an LDS mission returnee

* Jonathan Wills 6-foot-6 junior -- a transfer from New Mexico, he's not shooting or passing as well as expected

* Bennie Rhodes 6-foot-6 junior -- a City College of San Francisco walk-on who is more a slasher than shooter

The Fresno State roster (alphabetized, by position)

(Steve Cleveland can't call out the name Johnson during practice since he has three of them)

Garrett Johnson Guard 6-4 195 SO
Justin Johnson Forward 6-6 205 SO
Tyler Johnson Guard 6-2 170 FR
Kevin Olekaibe Guard 6-1 165 FR
Bennie Rhodes Guard 6-6 190 JR
Steven Shepp Guard 6-2 175 JR
Tim Steed Guard 6-4 215 JR
Jonathan Wills Guard 6-6 185 JR

Jerry Brown Forward 6-7 205 SO
Givon Crump Forward 6-7 210 RS SO
Bracken Funk Forward 6-7 240 FR
Nedeljko Golubovic Forward 6-8 240 SR

John Ryan Center 6-10 270 FR
Greg Smith Center 6-10 250 SO

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