Who starts? That’s the coach’s decision, and Allen Huddleston, the Fresno State starting point guard turned backup, just wants to go play some basketball.
But the past two games, when asked to spell freshman Aaron Anderson, who has started at the point since the Bulldogs’ Dec. 22 game at UCLA, Huddleston has played the majority of the minutes and played the point closer to how Coach Rodney Terry was hoping he would at the start of the season.
‘’I’m getting back to what I feel comfortable with and I’ve fortunately been able to knock down some shots,’’ said Huddleston, who had played primarily as a two after losing his spot as the starting point guard. ‘’It’s all getting used to it. I took a year off (sitting out as a transfer from Pacific) so the beginning part of the season it was a little difficult getting back in the flow of things, but I think now I feel pretty comfortable with the ball in my hands, making decisions and shooting the basketball.’’
In 27 minutes in a loss at Boise State, the 6-foot-2 junior scored a season-high 20 points with five assists, three rebounds, two steals and three turnovers.
And in 28 minutes in a loss to Colorado State, he put up 15 points with one assist, two rebound, two steals and two turnovers.
Anderson played 18 minutes in the two games and did not score (he attempted only two shots) with no assists, one rebound, two steals and five turnovers.
The Bulldogs, who play at Air Force on Wednesday in the Mountain West Conference game, did not close against Boise State or Colorado State even though they had a 64-61 lead with 2:55 to go against the Broncos and were within 50-45 with 10:13 to play against the Rams. They had opportunities with Huddleston on the floor.
But Anderson is likely to again be in the starting lineup against the Falcons, a team that has four seniors in the starting lineup.
‘’He’s battling through it and, again, it’s just a typical freshman,’’ Terry said. ‘’Freshmen are like roller coaster rides. One night they might be great, the next night they might not be. They might not make the solid plays one night, the next night they might. You just sometimes really don’t know what you’re going to get consistently from young guys. Even some of the best players in the country as freshmen, they go up and down sometimes. They’re not consistent every time.
‘’We’re going through some growing pains with that, but that’s typical. Until he gets that back in terms of really executing the fundamentals of the game, just initiating our offense and getting us in whatever we’re doing, he’ll get back to being a solid player. And then it is same thing on the defensive end, you just have to follow who you’re guarding personnel wise and understand what’s expected of you, even if you switch off on another guy at some point on the possession, you’ve got to know the scouting report and how we’re playing guys. All those things, just being solid and having a great understanding and being focused helps you get some of those things done.’’
Anderson did provide some pop to the Bulldogs’ offense when he made it into the starting lineup, but he played a lot of minutes through a four-game stretch at the start of conference play including 38 minutes against San Diego State and 39 against Wyoming and right now is struggling to regain a level of play with opponents better familiar with his assets on the floor.
As Terry said, opposing coaches are going to pick apart Anderson and all of the Bulldogs. ‘’If you’re playing minutes, then they’re going to know everything about you,’’ he said.
‘’Scouting is at an unbelievable level – our staff does a great job scouting. We’re going to know tendencies. We’re going to know how to play guys. Now, the next step is, once you have a scouting report on you, how are you going to adjust to the scouting report?
‘’Are you going to play to the scouting report for the other team? Or, are you going to play for your team? How are you going to do it? I’ve had talks with him about how people are playing him and his approach and what he should be thinking about.
‘’He’s getting better. It’s messing with him a little bit. It messes with all young players. We had a kid who was a phenomenal player at Texas, Dogus Balbay. The first time guys stopped guarding him and going under the ball screen, it messes him up a little bit, it messed our team up a little bit, it messed our offense up, because the guy what was guarding him is now sitting down there guarding the post guy.
‘’You have to adjust to the way you’re being guarded and the way you’re being played based on scouting report and I think it’s important as a coaching staff, we recognize that, and we have to put him in good positions to help him with that process.’’