The Fresno State men’s basketball team has several new additions – a trio of freshmen expected to contribute early on and redshirt sophomore Cezar Guerrero, an Oklahoma State transfer who had to sit out last season per NCAA transfer rules.
But the offseason has thinned the roster down some. Kevin Olekaibe transferred to UNLV for family reasons, and rising sophomore Robert Upshaw was dismissed from the team for violation of team policy.
Sophomore forward Braeden Anderson, who logged significant minutes last season, is out for the season recovering from injuries sustained in a car crash in September.
Sophomore Tanner Giddings sustained an injury during a “really physical” Tuesday practice, and his timetable for recovery is pending, Bulldogs coach Rodney Terry said.
“We just have to move forward,” Terry said after Wednesday’s practice. “Like I told our guys, it’s not going to lower any of our expectations for what we have for this season. As coaches, you’re always adapting and adjusting.”
Fresno State opens the season on the road Nov. 8 at UC Irvine and begins Mountain West Conference play Jan. 4 at Boise State on ESPN. The Bulldogs will host Cal State Stanislaus (Nov. 1) and Dominican (Nov. 4) in a pair of exhibition games.
Senior Tyler Johnson, sophomore Marvelle Harris, Guerrero, junior Alex Davis and freshman Paul Watson ran with the first team during Wedesday’s practice – a “four-guard lineup,” Guerrero said.
“I think what’s really happened is that our young guys have to pick it up a little bit quicker,” said Johnson, one of the Bulldogs’ two seniors and the team’s unquestionable leader. “They don’t have a chance to be freshmen. They have to be sophomores by the time we start conference [play].”
Johnson expressed confidence in the development of Fresno State’s underclassmen. Harris, who started six games last season, said it’s a matter of gaining in-game experience.
“There’s definitely more confidence … I’m more comfortable with my teammates,” Harris said of his first-year developments. “Playing all those minutes helped me a lot.”
Most of the questions Terry and the Bulldogs fielded were about the adversity they’ve faced before even stepping foot on the court this season, in which Terry said he hopes to run a more fast-paced offense.
Expectations remain the same.
“We just have to cancel everything out,” Guerrero said. “We just have to focus on the people that are involved in our family … tend to what we have right now.”
As for Anderson’s recovery, Terry said: “Braedon’s doing really good right now. He’s in a really good place. He’s putting his weight back on right now and he’s making really good progress.”