Fresno State senior guard Marvelle Harris – a 2014-15 first-team All-Mountain West selection – will be counted on to lead this year’s team. (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)
With six weeks left before the start of the 2015-16 season, the Fresno State men’s basketball team held its first practice of the fall on Friday at the North Gym on campus.
The ‘Dogs tipped off with a three-hour session that included an emphasis on defense and execution of details.
“We spent a lot of time the first day here on defense because a lot of guys need to get better in a number of different areas, especially on that end of the floor and understand how important that is going to be for us,” said fifth-year head coach Rodney Terry.
Senior guards Cezar Guerrero, Marvelle Harris and Julien Lewis are expected to provide veteran leadership as well as backcourt pressure on the perimeter.
“We want to be one of the best defensive teams out there as well as a great rebounding team,” Guerrero said. “We have a lot of size and athleticism out there. We have a lot of veterans who know what to do. Anything is possible for our group of guys.”
Junior wing Paul Watson, who was the 2013-14 Mountain West Freshman of the Year, will be asked to rebound from the perimeter and use his 6-foot-7-inch height to match up defensively.
Watson averaged 11.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore last season.
“[Watson] is another guy that should be able to rebound the basketball on both ends of the floor,” Terry said. “If he does that, not only does he make himself a really good player, he makes our team a really good team.”
Offensively, the ‘Dogs have focused on strong ball movement, tempo, full-court drills and team communication.
“We expect our guys to bring great effort every day,” Terry said. “You aren’t going to play perfect every day, but you can bring your effort every day and try to execute the things we want to get done. Our effort and communication was at a high level today, and this was a really good first day of practice.”
The ‘Dogs will open the 2015-16 season at home on Nov. 13 against Pepperdine.
Meanwhile, there is still a lot of work to do.
“Whether it is ball screen defense, in the gap, help side defense – all of that is important – and then you have to finish [possessions] with a rebound,” Terry said. “We had a number of rebound drills that we did today because we have to be a better rebounding team.”