Fresno State forward Karachi Edo jumps for a dunk during the ‘Dogs’ 93-55 victory over Bristol University Monday night at the Save Mart Center. Photo by Logan Downing/The Collegian
By the end of the first half of Monday’s game, the Fresno State men’s basketball team looked different than usual.
In fact, the gameplay reminded me of the Red and White Hoops Showcase, the preseason festivities in which the ‘Dogs scrimmaged and wowed the crowd with their dunking abilities.
See, the scrimmage was lackluster, at best. The squad took the court, jogged back and forth and dunked on each other for five minutes. Yes, it was all in good fun and tongue-in-cheek, and I jokingly wondered if the team was going to actually play a regular-season game that way.
At halftime of Monday’s contest, the ‘Dogs led the contest 37-34. But Anaheim’s Bristol University, a Division-II school whose program is still in its infancy, was leading Fresno State in every shooting category: on the field, behind the arc and at the line.
Guys, I was only joking.
After the intermission, however, a new brand of Fresno State men’s basketball emerged. Gone were the missed jumpers and many turnovers. The ‘Dogs controlled the ball well and even were able to do the second part of what they did during the Showcase: land crowd-pleasing dunks.
Fresno State outscored Bristol 56-21 in the second stanza, and was able to put the game away smoothly. In fact, the ‘Dogs upped their shooting from the previous frame, coming back at Bristol with a fury that had the crowd wondering what was said in the locker room.
Or, perhaps, they were only joking.
Sharing the ball
It’s something that Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry has emphasized: share the ball, and don’t get individualistic.
And that’s why when Marvelle Harris – Fresno State’s best shooter in the season opener and arguably the leader of the team – was the only starter not to see double-digits was mentioned, Terry’s face lit up.
It doesn’t matter that Harris only had seven points. What mattered is that he contributed for the team and was able to keep the basketball moving.
Those things, Terry said, are what win basketball games.
In the early games of the season, the ‘Dogs have experimented with different lineups to see if things work. For instance, Karachi Edo, who usually plays forward, saw time at the center position. Emmanuel Owootoah saw time as shooting guard, a position usually held by the inactive Cezar Guerrero.
And with that lineup in place, there was a lot of ball control and movement, particularly in the second half.
Take one possession that began with 13:19 left in the game: Harris inbounded the ball to Owootoah, who took the ball downcourt then passed it to Braeden Anderson in the paint. Anderson immediately tossed the ball to the right to Darnell Taylor, who faked a layup attempt and threw it across the key to Owootoah, who was wide open for the finishing triple.
Or one play, toward the end of the game, that went like this: Edo-Owootoah-Watson-Taylor-Owotooah-Taylor-Owootoah and then back to Taylor for the finish.
It’s not exciting basketball with a lot of fast breaks, but it is strategic. It helped the Bulldogs get out of the gutter, and as long as the team maintains possession and stays away from fundamental mistakes, it will keep its consistency.