There is a new excitement around the Fresno State men’s basketball team, not just the normal type that comes every year at the start of a new season. No, this year it is the beginning of a new era in the rich history of the Bulldogs basketball program.
New head coach Justin Hutson is now at the helm after former head coach Rodney Terry resigned to take another position at the University of Texas, El Paso in March.
With Hutson comes a new philosophy on both the offensive and defensive end.
The Bulldogs plan on being very aggressive in multiple ways.
Senior guard Deshon Taylor, who led the Bulldogs in scoring last season, said that the team is going to put pressure on opposing offenses by guarding them full court for stretches to force poor ballhandlers to bring the ball up the court.
“Some teams have forwards that really don’t dribble well, so we try to press and have the forwards bring it up and not the point guard just to get them out of their offense and take off some shot clock, and so when they get [on offense] it would be like 18 seconds by the time they get into their offense,” Taylor said.
Key to that strategy will be creating turnovers and once the defense does, the ‘Dogs will look to push the pace offensively to create better scoring opportunities.
Hutson said that he wants the offense to be faster than it was during Terry’s tenure.
“We are trying to play a little faster tempo. We talked a lot about playing with tempo on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, and we are pushing [the ball] up at a pace that we really like,” Hutson said.
The quicker pace should allow more players to have scoring opportunities than last season when the offense relied heavily on Taylor and the departed Bryson Williams, who followed Terry to UTEP.
Some notable games on the schedule include University of California, Berkeley at home on Dec. 19, an away matchup against Boise State on Jan. 19 and a showdown against the favorite to win the Mountain West conference title, San Diego State, where Hutson coached before coming to Fresno State.
Hutson, a Bakersfield native, said that he is excited for his first season as a Bulldog to begin.
“Being from the Valley, it’s very exciting to be a Bulldog. I always grew up a fan of the Bulldogs,” Hutson said. “I have been in the conference for 10, 12 years now so we were competition against the Bulldogs but Fresno has always had a good place in my heart.”