Wednesday, January 02, 2008

WAC play opens, unfortunately, on the road...

Your final WAC season. Make it count!

Dogs hit the road to open WAC play:

Fresno State travels to Ruston Louisiana to open WAC play against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Tip is set for 5pm Pacific and the game will be televised locally on CW59. The Bulldogs will follow up Thursday’s game with a game in Las Cruces Saturday night versus New Mexico State.

Fresno State entering:

The Bulldogs come into WAC play on the heels of a loss at Stanford 55-48. The Cardinal proved too much on the inside with their size and physical play for the Bulldogs to compete with for the entire 40 minutes. Another large first half scoring drought was a major factor in the Dogs undoing at Maples Pavilion also. Kevin Bell led the way with 16 points and 4 assists while Eddie Miller chipped in 10.

This WAC opener provides an opportunity to get off to a great start in WAC play, first getting a win but more importantly a road victory which is paramount in the conference race.

The WAC race is wide open and the out of conference records indicate there are 5 teams that could win the conference and that wouldn’t be much of a surprise. The WAC is wide open this season and because of early draft entries plus all league players exhausting eligibility it has quickly become what appears to be a conference of parity.

Louisiana Tech coming in:

The Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech come into Thursdays contest off of a 73-63 home victory over McNeese State. That victory broke an 8 game losing streak and provides some momentum leading up to the matchup with FSU. Tech was led by Dwayne Lathan’s 19 points and Kyle Gibson’s 18.

On the season La Tech only has 2 players averaging double figures in Gibson at 13.7 and JC Clark at 10.3. Tech is a team that has glaring issues that have been exposed this season. They manage to shoot 38.5% clip from the field while opponents have shot a blistering 46.1%. They only score 56.2 points per game while yielding 68.5 to opponents. They are also outrebounded by 7 per game and have only handed out 99 assists on the season as a team, which results in an abysmal assist to turnover ratio.

What to expect:

If history is any indication, this game will be close no matter what the records or stats say. Fresno State, although improved last season, have not been good on the road in the WAC over the last few seasons. No matter the opponent, the Dogs have struggled. They score less and shoot worse when they venture from the friendly confines of the Save Mart Center.

Can Steve Cleveland and his staff get this team to show up on the road? Can they instill some confidence in an erratic and seemingly fragile team? As usual, it will be up to Senior Guard Kevin Bell to both direct his team and add scoring punch.

Unfortunately, Bell has been thrust into the role of a scoring point guard this season which may hurt other areas of his game. His defensive effort will be crucial also as his quickness and intensity on that end of the floor could disrupt a Tech offense that comes in with enough issues already.

MBs take:

The Dogs look shoddy. Why? The game is not in Fresno, this is a bad road team against anyone in Division 1 and for that matter Division 1 transition team, hell Division 2 teams at that. They win this game, don’t tell me how, can you say nailbiter? The Dogs win, 64-60.

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