A new season of Fresno State men’s basketball is just a few months away and the anticipation to see second-year head coach Justin Hutson’s team on the court is being felt all around campus.
The Bulldogs will open their 2019-20 season on Nov. 5, when they travel to Eugene, Oregon, to face the University of Oregon Ducks.
Besides the Ducks, the Bulldogs will visit another Pac-12 opponent, Cal, in mid-December. The ‘Dogs will open conference play against San Diego State University on New Year’s day.
Fresno State finished last season with an 23-9 overall record and 13-5 conference record, finishing third place of the Mountain West conference.
This will be Hutson’s second year with the team. He said that last year was a special year, and he enjoyed the 23 wins and the exciting style his team had. Hutson also thanked the seniors who bought into his coaching style right away on his first year with the team.
The program lost three seniors to graduation: Braxton Huggins, Deshon Taylor and Sam Bittner all of whom were very influential on the team last season.
Hutson said that replacing those players will be tough, but it’s a good challenge to have.
“Were going to miss those guys and their experience. We are talking about 14 years of college experience with three guys,” Hutson said. “Now, we got Noah [Blackwell], New [Williams] and Nate [Grimes], and it’s their turn to step up.”
Blackwell, Williams and Grimes along with Chirstian Gray are the four seniors on this year’s team who will have the task of taking the leadership positions.
Along with the seniors, junior forward and transfer Chris Seeley and sophomore guard Aguir Agau are two other players with hopes of more minutes on the court and with hopes of making an impact right away.
Agau said he is excited to play and is looking forward to the season, explaining that Coach Hutson believes in him and he pushes him everyday and that’s why he’s excited to play for him.
“I’m going to come out and play hard every single game, and I’m going to get stops, that’s for sure,” Agau said. “I’m looking forward to playing more and being able to contribute to the team.”
Blackwell said that even though it is still early in the season, they are excited to see how the team performs with the seniors and eight new players added.
“I know this is my last year…I just have to bring some of the [teammates] along with us, like the younger guys, and I feel like we’re going to have a good year,” Blackwell said. “Everybody wants to win conference. I feel like we have a good chance if we stay focused, healthy and listen to our coach.”
Hutson said he wants to take advantage of these practices, that they want to stay healthy and create a team that plays hard and that plays together. Hutson said that the team has minor goals because they will take it game-by-game.
“With a young team, you can’t start setting numbers or wins or goals or what place you want to finish,” Hutson said. “We’ll still play a fast style. I do believe we should be able to go inside more than we did last year…we’ll play hard and we’ll play together and that’s how Bulldog basketball will play.”