Jun 24, 2019

Men host Hornets at home to open season

Juan Villa / The Collegian

Tonight at the Save Mart Center, Fresno State will look to avoid being stung by the Sacramento State Hornets and continue their success in season-opening victories.

The Bulldogs have won the last four straight season openers and have won 11 of their past 12 season-opening games.

They will be going against a Sacramento State squad who has a brand new head coach looking to change their program, and their 4-24 record from a year ago.

“Sacramento State is coached by Brian Katz, a good friend of mine,” coach Steve Cleveland said. “They’re going to be well-coached, they’re going to be hard-nosed, and that’s his personality.”

Senior Dwight O’Neil says that even though they haven’t studied the Hornets just yet, the Bulldogs still must play at a high level for their opener.

“We have no clue what to expect. We have no tape or haven’t watched anything,” O’Neil said. “All I know is that they have a pretty good team and they we got to come in with our ‘A’ game.”

Sacramento State has never defeated the Bulldogs while in the Fresno. Fresno State is 24-0 at home against the Hornets.

Cleveland however is expecting Sacramento State to come out with a full head of steam and test the young Bulldogs.

“We expect it to be a very competitive game,” Cleveland said. “We’re excited about it.”

One thing that both teams have in common is the abundance of young players on both rosters.

Katz has four returning players, but 12 newcomers on his squad. Cleveland has just three upper classmen, with the rest of his team consisting of sophomores and freshmen.

Freshman Paul George was one of the Bulldogs providing a huge helping hand during the preseason, with a 28- point performance against Fresno Pacific and then recording a double-double against Stanislaus. The freshman from Lancaster finished his final preseason game of the year with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

George is now starting to realize that what he did in the preseason doesn’t matter anymore.

“There’s still a little bit of nervousness in me because now I know it counts,” George said. “Preseason is over, now it’s the real deal. I’m kind of excited, I know what to expect at the college level.”

Cleveland and his coaching staff hope the Bulldogs start off right tonight.

“We’re all trying to reach our full potential, and it has to be together,” Cleveland said. “It has to be about this group doing everything they can to help each other.”

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