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Cal Basketball vs. Fresno State Preview and Gamethread

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Last season the Fresno State Bulldogs headed west to experience the wonders of indoor plumbing and to face our sturdy Golden Bears at Haas Pavilion.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Forced to play a small-ball style due to their personnel, Fresno State found itself dominated in the paint by Cal's bigs, Kravish and Solomon, and were sent home with fingers and thumbs in the shape of an L on their foreheads.

The Bulldogs went on to have a decidedly average season going 21-18 and middle of the pack in the Mountain West. They did have a nice post-season run in the CBI tournament before falling in the finals to Siena. This season, it's been a rough start for Fresno State(1-5) with their lone win coming against Bristol.  There is no word whether or not a drunken brawl ensued afterwards...

For the rematch, Cal has to hit the road and visit one of the Central Valley's bastions of basketball tradition...the Save Mart Center. I cannot confirm nor deny that you're allowed to buy toiletries at an extra special price during halftime. Provided that they're not bus-jacked on the way in, our Bears will square off against a young Bulldog team who lost two of their top scorers to graduation and will be without the services of suspended point guard Cezar Guerrero.

Mr. Guerrero apparently "violated athletic department policy." Considering that this is Fresno State, I can only imagine that he didn't share his crayons or perhaps spilled his juice box one too many times.

The Bulldogs are essentially a jump-shooting team that rely on drive and kick action. However, they do not seem to be particularly adept at driving, kicking, nor shooting. Although they like to take three pointers, they are shooting a collective 19% from deep. If there's one area where they're not awful, it's that their undersized collection of wings show a knack for hitting the offensive glass...probably because they have plenty of practice retrieving bricks.

On defense, they'll switch between man and zone but are fairly unremarkable at either. As a smaller team, they'll give up their share of offensive boards, but try to mitigate that by forcing steals.  After all, if you can't stop the other team, might as well give some false hustle lunging out of position.  Either way, at least you get the ball back sooner.

This is typically the part where I try to convince you that Fresno State has some talented players who are simply under-performing and are due for a breakout game...

...

...I suppose, it's possible.  But odds are, this is just a bad Bulldogs team and we should run them out of their own gym.


Starters:

G Emmanuel Owootoah(So), 5'11, 175 lbs, 5.2 ppg, 1.5 apg
G Marvelle Harris(Jr), 6'4, 210 lbs, 12.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.8 apg
G Julien Lewis(Jr), 6'4, 195 lbs, 14.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg
F Paul Watson(So), 6'7, 197 lbs, 13.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg
F Karachi Edo(So), 6'6, 225 lbs, 12.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg


Bench:

F Braeden Anderson(So), 6'9, 235 lbs
G Darnell Taylor(Jr), 6'3, 205 lbs
F Terrell Carter(Fr), 6'8, 265 lbs

Key Players:

Julien Lewis leads them in scoring after sitting out last year via transferring from Texas. He was the Longhorns' third-leading scorer, so you know that he's an athlete with some ability. Marvelle Harris is their best all-around player. He's doing his best to fill the void left by their departed seniors. Although Harris hasn't shot the ball well from deep yet, he's certainly capable. Paul Watson was a standout as a true frosh. He's a bit of 3/4 tweener, but seems to be more comfortable as a stretch-four. Watson is another guy who seems to be shooting well below his expected average. Karachi Edo is their lone presence inside. Though undersized, he's active and shows a good touch around the rim.


Keys to the Game:

1) "Defend, rebound, play hard."

This is one of those dreary pre-conference games against an underwhelming opponent where last year's team would require a Monty tongue-lashing and/or cattle prod to get going. That's not Coach Martin's way; players either bring it or they'll find themselves sitting. If nothing else, it'll be interesting to see how guys have bought in by the effort they show.

2) Dominate via tempo and shot selection

With their starting point guard suspended, Fresno State prefers to play at a slower pace. If we can control the glass, then we should be able to force them to play at our pace. When our offense has stalled this year, it's because we stop moving the ball and revert back to one on one basketball. This is another chance to work on good habits with regards to ball movement leading to high percentage shots.

3) Establish Kravish in the low post

Although he's been fantastic as a high post facilitator, Kravish has yet to establish himself as a dominant presence in the paint.  It'll really help open up our outside game if he can assert himself on the low block.  More than anything, this seems to be a mental roadblock.  We really need David to just cut loose and play with aggressive confidence.

4)  Develop the 4-spot

Tarwater can give us minutes here, but he's got a ceiling.  For our team to really come together this year, we need Behrens and Moute a Bidias to bring defense, rebounding, and finishing to this position.

Go Bears!

Tip-Off: 3pm
TV: CBS Sports Network