Friday, January 28, 2011

It's Fresno State here on Saturday night

Fresno State comes to town Saturday evening to battle San Jose State University. Steve Cleveland's squad is coming off a close 79-76 loss in Reno to Nevada and now burdened by a conference game losing streak numbering five.

Here is our game report from the December 29 matchup between Fresno and San Jose:

It was yet another grinder as both teams tossed jab after jab but with neither squad able to sustain a pullaway lead until late and that turned out to be Fresno State. The host Bulldogs topped SJSU 75-62.

With the score 61-56, freshman Kevin Olekaibe hit a floater to make it 63-56 in favor of the Dogs.

Then came a Tim Steed dunk.

Keith Shamburger and Jonathan Wills traded nailing one of two free throws and Steed then flushed his second one.

Subsequently a march to the foul line ensued until the buzzer.

Fresno State's Mr. (Greg) Smith didn't go to Washington but rather to the basket for 16 points. But it was his late second half steal and later a block with resulting passes to Tim Steed for the aforementioned dunks.

The Spartans couldn't get the needed stops in the last five minutes.

For SJSU, Adrian Oliver led with 15 points (6-19 shooting) as the Bulldogs defended he and Justin Graham extremely well. Shamburger totaled 13 points, Wil Carter 11 and Calvin Douglas 10.

Two important figures: the Bulldogs went 14-29 from the foul line and still won by 13, plus Steve Cleveland's squad won the battle of the boards 52-41.

Noteworthy was the effort of Chris Jones. Players want touches which usually means passes to them. In Jones' case, he gets his hand on more basketballs than Mr. Spalding.

At the half, it was Fresno State ahead 33-29.

At that point, the Bulldogs out-boarded San Jose State 26-18 and the Fresno State color announcer (we couldn't pick up the KSJS broadcast) labeled it the hardest working first half for the Bulldogs this season. Oliver totaled 11 points on 13 shot attempts and generated five assists in the initial 20 minutes with Carter scoring 10 points and grabbing nine boards.

Neither team shot well in the first half -- San Jose State at 36% but with 10 turnovers to 35% for the Bulldogs.

Tyler Smith, who may or may not play due to a concussion, is out of St. Francis High in Mountain View. Jerry Brown, who might accompany the team even though redshirting, played high school ball in San Francisco and his family resides in the East Bay. So both players should have family and friends in the stands on Saturday.

Fresno WAC Season-To-Date

12/29/10 vs San Jose State W, 75-62
01/03/11 vs Nevada W, 80-74
01/06/11 at Louisiana Tech W, 63-56
01/08/11 at New Mexico State L, 80-68
01/15/11 vs Utah State L, 52-39
01/17/11 vs Idaho L, 67-57
01/20/11 at Hawai'i L, 62-52
01/24/11 vs Seattle University W, 86-56
01/27/11 at Nevada L, 79-76

The Bulldog Starting Five (stats are for conference play)

* Greg Smith 6-foot-10 sophomore -- 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, shooting 60%, his maneuverability still hampered by inconsistent team outside-shooting (coming off 18 points and 12 boards versus Nevada)

* Nedeljko Golubovic 6-foot-8 senior -- 6.4 ppg. and 4.1 rpg. while shooting 31% and 19% respectively, is tops in steals with 14

* Tim Steed 6-foot-4 junior -- 13.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, shooting 53% overall and 69% from long distance, a real sparkplug of late (26 points and nine rebounds versus Nevada, 5-6 on three pointers)

* Kevin Olekaibe 6-foot-1 freshman -- 11.3 ppg., shooting 37% overall, 33% from long distance (shot 6-11 versus Nevada so we have him moving into the starting lineup)

* Steven Shepp 6-foot-2 junior -- he is only shooting 29% overall yet 42% on threes, averaging 3.5 ppg. but his assist-to-turnover ratio is 30/10 and he is easily the best ballhandler on the team, especially on any sort of break opportunity (six assists against one turnover at Nevada)

Key Reserves

* Garrett Johnson 6-foot-4 sophomore -- shooting 35% and 33% respectively and 9 ppg. (he started up in Nevada, shot poorly but has the size and strength to better take on Justin Graham or Adrian Oliver)

* Tyler Johnson 6-foot-2 freshman -- suffered a concussion last game so he may be out

* Bracken Funk 6-foot-8 freshman -- not shooting well but is averaging 3.4 rebounds a contest and provides a physical presence inside

* Jonathan Wills 6-foot-6 junior -- is shooting poorly, playing 10 minutes a game

* Bennie Rhodes 6-foot-6 junior -- we're unsure if he is still on the roster

As a team, the Bulldogs are at 39% shooting overall and 29% from three-point range while allowing 46% and 36% to opponents. Something to also keep in mind: Cleveland's squad has attempted 70 more treys than opposing teams. Fresno State was out-rebounded 38-25 in Reno.

On the plus side, Fresno State has a WAC play 64-36 edge in steals

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 (redshirting)
Givon Crump Forward 6-7 210 RS SO (redshirting)
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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