Men’s basketball projected to finish 6th in Mountain West

Fresno State forward Nate Grimes goes up for a shot during the Bulldogs’ home win over New Mexico at the Save Mart Center on Feb. 2, 2019. (Jose Romo Jr./The Collegian).

The Mountain West Conference (MW) announced on Tuesday that the Fresno State men’s basketball team is projected to finish in sixth in the 11-team league this year, according to a press release from Fresno State Athletics.

The announcement comes from the MW media day held at Green Valley Ranch, Nevada.

The Bulldogs have been perennial contenders over the past four seasons and this one will follow up on last year’s 23-game winning season. Last season was head coach Justin Hutson’s first season with the Bulldogs. Hutson was named the 2018-2019 Joe B. Hall National Coach of the Year, an award that goes to the best first-year coach in the nation.

Last season ended with the Bulldogs reaching the MW semifinals for the third time in the last four seasons. Last season also marked the fourth straight 20+ win season and fifth in the last six seasons.

Alongside Hutson returning for his second year as head coach, three Fresno State fifth-year seniors are returning for their final season.

Forward/center Nate Grimes enters the 2019-2020 season as a strong all-conference candidate in the Mountain West. Grimes is one of two MW players, along with Colorado State’s Nico Carvacho, to average a double-double (11.8 points/ 10.2 rebounds) during league play in 2018-2019.

Guard New Williams looks to become an offensive threat and dial up his pressure on defense. Williams was a Mcdonald’s All-American nominee out of Santa Monica High and began his college career at Auburn. Williams played all 32 games last season and averaged 8.2 points/3.2 rebounds/1.0 assists per game.

Point Guard Noah Blackwell averaged nearly nine points and three assists per game with a 2.1 assist-to-turnover ratio. 

Blackwell is also the team’s most efficient free throw and three point shooter as he ended the 2018-2019 season with 16-for-19 free throws made and shot for a 44.6 percentage in threes.

The Bulldogs’ first game of the season will be on Nov. 5, when they visit the University of Oregon Ducks. Their first home game of the season will be on Nov. 10, hosting Winthrop University at the Save Mart Center.

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