Friday, February 16, 2007

FSU-SHSU Preview

Marlin and his brilliant half court sets may work in the Southland Conference but they are no match for Schroyer and his sideline screaming. Best of luck Bob, but Heath has had 6 days to review film on you and that is far too long for a brilliant tactician like him.

The Fresno State Bulldogs welcome in non-conference opponent Sam Houston State at 7pm Saturday at the Save Mart Center. The Bearkats of SHSU are from the Southland Conference; they currently are a 1/2 game out of first place with a 10-2 conference mark and have an overall record of 18-7. Entering Saturday, SHSU is 5-6 in road contests.

SHSU Coming In:

The Bearkats enter the contest Saturday off of a victory over Stephen F. Austin 63-51. Forward Ryan Bright led the way with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Seniors Aaron Wade and Jejaun Plair chipped in with 12 and 11 points respectively. The win by SHSU was their sixth in a row, and with that string of games the Bearkats will enter the SMC with confidence.

What to expect from SHSU:

The main factors that contribute to the Bearkats success is their ability to get out of the gates early and start well and that they have depth. They play 9 players 10 minutes or more per game. They do not have a single player in the top 15 in the Southland Conference in minutes per game. Also, this team has a willingness to share the ball and that is exhibited in their 19.8 assists per contest.

They are a balanced scoring team, but much like the Bulldogs rely heavily on the outside shot. In losses, the lack of a solid shooting percentage from both the field and from three has hampered the Bearkats success. Much like the Bulldogs they have shot a woeful 58% from the free throw line in losses, they enter shooting at a 64% clip from the line.

Look for the Bearkats to go to the bench early and often, it is a key to their success as the bench averages 29.1 ppg while the Bulldogs bench production is minimal, especially since Eddie Miller is in the starting lineup. SHSU has jumped out to early leads in all but four of their games this season so that is something to watch for based on FSUs recent struggles to find points early in games.

What to expect from the Bulldogs:

The Bulldogs enter the game Saturday with confidence after the 75-69 victory over New Mexico State. Although the Dogs were unable to score in the first five minutes, they were able to score 40 points in the final fifteen minutes of the first half. Quinton Hosley had a great outing and scored his 22 points efficiently and also added 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals.

The Dogs should also enter fresh after getting 6 days off since the NMSU victory. They even got an extra shooting opportunity at the Save Mart Center Thursday due to Jamie Foxx snubbing Fresno on his tour. I salute Mr. Foxx for his commitment to Bulldogs Basketball and understanding they have had shooting woes at the SMC recently and letting them get some extra shots in.

Because of the lack of an inside presence by SHSU, look for Hosley and McGuire to be posted up early and often. As has been the case all season, the two forwards must be aggressive when attacking the rim and initiate contact and if they don’t score the basket they need to be shooting two free throws.

Kevin Bell was an excellent floor leader the last time out against NMSU and look for that trend to continue. He was a great distributor and his shot selection was superb on his way to scoring a career-high 18 points.

Bell’s defense on Bearkat point guard Jejaun Plair will be critical and something to key on when watching the game. Plair averages 5.8 assists per game for the Bearkats and is the catalyst for them offensively.

With the Bearkats going 9 or 10 deep, how will Coach Steve Cleveland respond with his own substitution decisions? His use of forward Alex Blair early against NMSU was critical to the team’s ultimate success. Will Blair have a role to play against the Bearkats or will he be lost in the shuffle? Will backup guard Tyson Parker return to the type of play he employed versus La. Tech?

MBs take:

The Bulldogs will finally open a home game with above average play. They have come out flat in 4 consecutive home games, luckily for them so did their opponents and they were able to stay in it. A 2-4 minute scoring drought to open the game cannot be had against SHSU because of their great play early in games.

I see Cleveland pounding Hosley and McGuire on the low block and in the double-hi set in the early going. SHSU is not a physical team on the interior and does not block shots. I also think it is critical to get Eddie Miller looks early from his home on the right wing. He needs confidence early so he does not slip into non-factor mode.

Maybe this is the game where Hector Hernandez can play with some fire and show everyone a new look. He has been mired in both a shooting and effort slump and he needs to find a way out bad-so why not against SHSU?

Defensively, the intensity and focus must be at a high, the Bearkats are an excellent passing team and find the open man. They are difficult enough to defend on one possession so the boards must be cleared by the Dogs. They must not fall asleep and do a good job of communicating, bumping cutters, and stopping penetration on the defensive end.

The way I see it is the new look Bulldogs (for two games at least) will play inspired ball and defeat the Bearkats by 7.

FSU-SHSU preview from

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