Fresno State Basketball Preview
Bulldogs basketball is back!
Get ready for Fresno State hoops
The Fresno State Bulldogs tip-off their 2021-2022 campaign against Fresno Pacific University, Tuesday night on the Mountain West Network. The Dogs ended last season 12-12 after getting bounced in the quarter finals to a very solid Colorado State team.
Key Conference Games:
Fresno State had five non-conference games canceled last season. Hopefully, that won’t be the case this year as the Dogs have thirteen non-conference games scheduled this year. Fresno State will also take part in the SoCal Challenge this year. They will take on Pepperdine Waves who finished third last season in the WWC (15-12) and took home the CBI Title last season. Next in the So Cal Challenge comes the Santa Clara Broncos who finished seventh last season in the WWC (12-8).
— Fresno State Men’s Basketball (@FresnoStateMBB) November 10, 2021
The Broncos are returning with three of its top scores from last year: Josip Vrankic 15.2ppg, Jalen Williams 11.5ppg, Keshawn Justice 10.9ppg, and transfer from Green Bay University PJ Pipes – 14.5ppg. The Anteaters from the Big West will also make a trip to the Save Mart Center this season. UC Irvine was one win away from punching a ticket to the big dance. The Anteaters finished second in the Big West (18-9). With twelve players coming back from last season, the Anteaters will also have Big West Freshman of the Year Dawson Baker who averaged 10.7 ppg last season. Leading scorer and all Big West first team Collin Welp will also be a force to be wrecked with after averaging 15.1 ppg and 7.6 rpg last season.
Key Players For Fresno State:
Second Team, All-Mountain West Foward Orlando Robinson is back after testing NBA waters over the summer. The Junior 14.6 ppg and 9.2 rpg last season. Robinson collected double-doubles last season and scored in double figures in 20 games last season.
Junior guard Deon Stroud showed some great flashes in his sophomore campaign and brought some highlight-reel dunks. The question will be, can Stroud take the next step? Stroud averaged 12.2 ppg game last season and was in double figures in 17 games last season. There’s a lot of potential for Deon Stroud and could be poised for a big breakout year. It will start on the defensive side if Deon can stay disciplined and stay out of foul trouble and continue to work on his three-point shot he will be a player to watch out for.
The Arizona Transfer Jemarl Baker will be a huge part of any success for the Bulldogs. The Senior Guard brings a lot of experience and shooting to this team. Jemarl averaged 12 ppg last season with the Wildcats. Before Jemarl Baker played at Arizona he also played at Kentucky and was part of the Big Blue Elite eighth run in 2019. Now Jemarl looks to help the Bulldogs reach back to the Big Dance, something they haven’t been a part of since 2016.
The Bakersfield native Isaiah Hill looks to improve from his first year at Fresno State. The Junior Guard averaged 10.3 ppg last season. Hill showed some great flashes of his game down the stretch last season and hit some big time shots as well. With Baker sharing the floor, this can help Hill facility the offense more and be more aggressive scoring the ball.
Offense and Defensive Breakdown:
Offensively, the Dogs have to improve shooting the three-point ball. Fresno State was third to last in the MW at three-point shots made and were eighth in scoring at 66.3 ppg in the MW. The Dogs were also 10th in assists in the conference. With Jermal Baker on the floor, the Dogs can look to improve in shooting and assists. The major issue for the Dogs is whether they can take care of the ball. The Dogs ranked third in turnovers last season in the MW. If Fresno State can cut the turnovers and keep winning in the transition, the Dogs offense could be much better.
Fresno State was good on the defensive side last season and ranked fourth in steals and blocked shots in the conference. With all of the starters coming back with more experience, this Bulldogs defense could be one of the best in the league.
End Of The Season Prediction:
There is no question Fresno State is a sleeper team in the Mountain West. With all five starters coming back – and adding Jermal Baker – this team is poised for a run in the MW. The question will be – can the Dogs take care of the ball and find some scoring other than Orlando Robinson? Will the Dogs find some three point shooting? No doubt the Dogs will be much better this season and will be a fun team to watch.
My predictions: The Dogs are going to surprise a lot of people and finish top 3 in the conference and make a run in Las Vegas this coming March. Fresno State has finished top four in MW four times in the last six seasons. This Bulldogs team is capable of doing the unthinkable.