Autumn doesn’t just bring cold weather and longer nights, it also brings basketball season.
For the Fresno State women’s basketball team, it spawns hope for a season that can take it on a championship run.
Coming off of a season that saw the team go 17-15 overall and 11-7 in Mountain West Conference play, the Bulldogs have prepared for this season since the summer when they played in several games in Europe. Fresno State won all three games against Zkk Radnicki from Serbia, Lion De Carouge from Switzerland and Paris All-Stars from France.
With most players from last season returning, the Bulldogs are confident that with a veteran squad they will be able to make a deep postseason run. The ‘Dogs will rely on sophomores Ali Gamez and Maddi Utti, who, after a good freshman season, will be looking to take more of a leading role on the team.
But the Bulldogs are most excited about the return of their best player from last season, senior Candice White. In her final season as a Bulldog, she is looking to cement herself as one one of the leaders of the team and help it achieve postseason success.
“I want to be mentally strong throughout the season. It’s a long season and having gone to Europe, it seems like we started a long, long time ago,” White said. “I want to develop more as a player this season. I feel like there is a lot more I can learn and a lot more things I can fine tune.”
Head coach Jaime White said that she is excited for this season and that the additions of players like true freshman Gabby Standifer and junior college transfer Lydia Friberg have helped the team a lot.
Standifer, who was a highly coveted three-star recruit and a three-time state all-star in her native Texas, said she feels at home at Fresno State.
“I like Fresno. It kind of reminds me of back home…It’s kind of like a smaller town. Everyone is close. They support each other, and that’s what I like about it,” Standifer said. “I think as we practice, we’ve gotten better and our relationship has built as a team.”
There are big expectations for the Bulldogs’ season, knowing that much of the talent from last season stayed and that they had a productive summer session. Coach White believes that some of their toughest opponents will be Colorado State University, Boise State University, University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of New Mexico.
White also said that her team might be somewhat undersized, but that it has great shooters who can get up and down the court fast.
“The goal is always to win the conference, and as we get close to that goal, we want to win the championship and advance beyond the first round of the NCAA Tournament,” White said. “We’re excited for the year. We’re excited to get back in the Save Mart Center and excited to see all our fans in the stands.”
The ‘Dogs defeated California State University, Dominguez Hills, 102-49, during an exhibition game at the Save Mart Center on Nov. 2, to start the preseason.