Cal Basketball Plays Host to the Fresno State Bulldogs

USA TODAY Sports

The gritty Fresno State Bulldogs come a'ridin' into town. Let's just hope their infamously well-behaved fans decided to stay home.

Vintage hoop heads might remember the interesting days of towel-chewing and brandishing samurai swords.

Cal fans from a more recent era might remember three-year starter Shantay Legans transferring to play his senior year at Fresno State.

The Bulldogs of today are less about drama and more about a blue collar approach. Last year, they were known for their tough-nosed man to man defense and peaked towards the end of the season with impressive games against UNLV and New Mexico.

Although they entered the off-season as a trendy dark horse pick for the Mountain West Conference, the loss of three projected starters to transfer, dismissal, and injury has dramatically changed their outlook.

Without their 7' center and 6'9 power forward, this team has been forced to rely on more of a small ball attack. More often than not, it's been successful. After playing at a ponderous tempo last year, Coach Terry has unleashed the reigns to the point where five different guards are all averaging in double figures.

Dribble penetration followed by a kick-out is their bread and butter; they have five players shooting 30% or above from three. Overall, this is a very good shooting team from multiple positions.

On defense, they do a good job of moving their feet without fouling. As one might expect, they're not great on the glass at either end.

Although Cal should have a significant advantage inside, it'll be up to our wing players to keep up with their athletic guards...

There's no time to look ahead to Creighton. If we don't come out focused and ready to D up, we very well could get lit up.

Projected Starters:

F Alex Davis(Jr), 6'9, 205 lbs, 5.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg
G/F Paul Watson(Fr), 6'7, 187 lbs, 11.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg
G Marvelle Harris(So), 6'4, 212 lbs, 18 ppg, 5.8 rpg
G Tyler Johnson(Sr), 6'4, 186 lbs, 14.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg
G Cezar Guerrero(So), 6'1, 190 lbs, 14.7 ppg, 4.6 apg


Bench:
G Allen Huddleston(Sr), 6'1, 183 lbs, 11.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg
F Karachi Edo(Fr), 6'6, 226 lbs, 4.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg
G Emmanuel Owootoah(Fr), 5'11, 175 lbs, 1.9 ppg, 1.2 rpg

Alex Davis is a JC transfer who has been battling knee injuries this year. True frosh wing Paul Watson has been pressed into service at the 4-spot and has played very well. For a young player, he's been very efficient at scoring both inside and out. Marvelle Harris is in the midst of a breakout season. He chose Fresno State over offers from Cal, UW, and Colorado. He's very dangerous from deep (40% 3FG), but is also quite adept off the bounce and at getting himself to the line. Cezar Guerrero is a transfer from Oklahoma State. He's their iron man who rarely leaves the floor. Although he's leading them in three-point attempts, he's also a threat to drive and score or set-up. Tyler Johnson has been out with a leg injury, but will likely be back in time to face Cal. He was slated for pre-season MWC honors. He's more of a jump-shooter, but does a lot of his damage from inside the arc. Allen Huddleston was one of their leading scorers last year. He's essentially a Harris/Guerrero clone; a good shooter who can hit the outside shot or put it on the floor.


Key Matchups:

1) Deny dribble penetration and close out on shooters

The Bulldogs will play four out with one in and all of their perimeter players are threats to shoot, drive, or pass. They love to set up open shots by forcing defenders to rotate over and provide help against the ball-handler. It'll be a good test for our young guards to move their feet and to avoid picking up cheap fouls. One might expect that this would have been a point of emphasis in practice all week.


2) Win the mis-match battle

We've got the clear edge inside with Solomon and Kravish. However, our bigs might have trouble chasing one of the Fresno guards around the perimeter. If we're giving up jumpshots on one end, we need to make them pay inside and on the glass on the other. I'd love to see our bigs be so effective that Monty doesn't need to go small because we're getting lit up defensively.

3) Rebounding from the Wing

One of the underrated aspects of Allen Crabbe's game was his strong presence on the boards. That's been sorely missed this season. We need our wings to step up and keep the other team from getting extra possessions. This is especially important over the next two games where we face teams that like to put up a lot of deep jumpers.

Go Bears!


Tip-Off: 3 pm
Television: Pac-12 Network
Radio: 560 AM

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