Injury update on Fresno State freshman Aaron Anderson

The second career start for Fresno State point guard Aaron Anderson came to an abrupt end on Sunday with 10:30 remaining in the Bulldogs’ 89-64 victory over Sonoma State.

He took a shot to the head committing a foul against Seawolves’ guard Brandon Glanz and did not return – the freshman had played 20 minutes to that point, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, grabbing four rebounds and handing off two assists without a turnover.

‘’I think he’s going to be fine,’’ Coach Rodney Terry said. ‘’I think in this day and time, anytime you have a blow to the head and you have a little bit of blurriness, you’re going to be very overly cautious with having a player return to the game. But he’s going to be fine. Aaron is a tough kid and all indications right now are he’s going to be fine. We just took extra precautions with what happened to him.’’


Minutes now at a premium in the back court for Fresno State and Coach Rodney Terry

Allen Huddleston went from the starting point guard and playing 29.8 minutes per game, tied for most on the team, to playing only 14 minutes in a loss at UCLA when splitting time at the two.

Now that freshman Aaron Anderson has taken over at the point the role for Huddleston is different, but not necessarily diminished. He still is the Fresno State Bulldogs’ leading scorer and at 11.1 points per game the only one on the team with double-digits to the left of the decimal point.

‘’I think it gives us another added dimension in terms of you’ve got another guy that can score the basketball. Allen scored the ball pretty effectively from the point and now sliding him off the ball a little bit more and playing off the ball, he’ll still be asked to score the ball, take open shots, and score for us,’’ Coach Rodney Terry said. ‘’I think he’ll still play significant minutes. I said to him, he’ll still play close to starter minutes without having to run the point all the time. He’ll still play some point for us, he just won’t do it exclusively for us anymore.’’

The move off the ball should also help Huddleston on the defensive end – he won’t be matched up with the opponent’s point any more. But playing off the ball Huddleston and Kevin Olekaibe are very similar and Olekaibe, who has struggled with his shot coming back from an elbow injury, is the leading returning scorer from a year ago.

Terry will have some interesting decisions to make game to game, with freshman Marvelle Harris coming off a career-high 19 points in that loss at UCLA and Tyler Johnson also in the mix at the two and three.

Against the Bruins, Olekaibe played 19 minutes and hit four of nine shots (44.4 percent) in scoring 10 points, his best game by shooting percentage since making five of 10 in a Nov. 19 win at Cal Poly. Harris played 26 off the bench.

‘’I don’t think you can have enough guys that can score the ball, whether he’s coming off the bench of in your starting lineup, you want guys that can put the ball in the cup,’’ Terry said.


Las Vegas Bowl made right call passing on Fresno State

Fresno State wanted an invitation to play in the Las Vegas Bowl after winning a share of the Mountain West Conference title, along with Boise State and San Diego State.

But bowl executives and ESPN Regional Television, which owns and operates the game, obviously knew what they were doing in selecting the Broncos to play Washington from the Pac-12 – and not just because the Bulldogs fell flat getting blown out by a 6-6 Southern Methodist team in the Hawaii Bowl.

The Broncos and Huskies filled the stadium – attendance was 33,217, the eighth year in a row the game has drawn more than 32,000. But more importantly the game had one of its highest television ratings in its history, which is what they were after.

The game had a rating of 3.3, the second highest rated telecast in the past decade and third highest in the history of the Las Vegas Bowl. The 2010 game between Boise State and Utah had a rating of 3.8 and the 2001 game between USC and Utah on Christmas Day had a rating of 4.7.

“We had a top match up that came down to the wire with the always-exciting backdrop of Las Vegas,” said Dan Hanneke, executive director of the bowl game, in a press release. “That’s a combination that’s going to get you great ratings. We’re very proud of the event put on by our city, not just on game day but all week long.”


More on Nevada and Chris Ault and what it could mean for ‘Dogs

There are some interesting things coming out of Nevada with the departure of Chris Ault, the Hall of Fame coach who announced on Friday that he was stepping down.

The Wolf Pack could have two big things working against them in luring their next coach – Nevada has a lame duck Athletic Director in Cary Groth, who is retiring on June 30, and any established coach might be leery of taking a job when he does not know who he will be working for the next four or five years; and there are no plans to bump up the salary for the position, which will hurt because Ault was making less than $500,000 a year and the lowest paid coach in the Mountain West Conference.

Nevada also is short time to find a replacement with the recruiting dead period ending on Jan. 3, and they have some holes to fill with the loss of 12 senior starters including three on the offensive line, three linebackers and three-quarters of their secondary.

They signed two junior college players who will enroll mid-year, and are reported to have non-binding oral commitments from only four players at this point.

The Reno Gazette-Journal posited on a few questions facing Nevada in the wake of Ault’s departure.


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More coaching turnover in MWC: Nevada Coach Chris Ault steps down

Fresno State was going to be a favorite to win the Mountain West Conference next season, coming off a 9-4 season that ended with a disappointing loss to Southern Methodist in the Hawaii Bowl.

Boise State and San Diego State are headed to the Big East, which no doubt makes things easier for the Bulldogs. The teams joining the conference will have first-year coaches after Mike MacIntyre left San Jose State for Colorado and Gary Anderson left Utah State for Wisconsin. And the ‘Dogs probably became an even heavier favorite on Friday when Coach Chris Ault announced that he would be stepping down at Nevada.

Of the seven bowl teams that were in the Mountain West or will be joining the conference next season, five will either not be in the conference or have first-year coaches. Only Fresno State with Tim DeRuyter and the Air Force with Troy Calhoun are returning at this point.

”I don’t write speeches, but I did put down some notes,” Ault said, in a press conference. ”Let me start off by saying I believe that Wolf Pack football has established a blueprint for success, a winning program, one that can be maintained. I’m proud of that. We are no longer just a spot on the regional map. We have a national reputation and a national following and that’s pretty doggone special.

”With that being said and given the parameters that our program has worked under the past few years, I’ve determined that Wolf Pack football has gone about as far as it can go under these circumstances. As we all know, change is inevitable. With great humility and mixed emotions, I’ve decided it’s time for me to step down and move on.

”It’s been a privilege to have been a part of this university as a student-athlete, as a coach and as an administrator for 42 years. My whole adult life and all that I value, in one way or another, has evolved around this university. It’s been a really privileged to have been a part of something this special. For Kathy, my family and me, it’s been an incredible journey, one that I think will stand the test of time. We will cherish all the memories that I had here.”


Coach Rodney Terry and assistants to be at Time Out Club meet and greet

The Fresno State Time Out Club and The Elbow Room in Fig Garden Village will hold a no-host  get-together on Sunday after the Bulldogs’ game against Sonoma State.

Time Out Club dinner specials will be offered for $19.95 plus tax and tip, and members and guests can meet Coach Rodney Terry and assistant coaches Michael Schwartz, Byron Jones and Kenton Paulino.

Fresno State plays the Seawolves at 1 p.m. at the Save Mart Center, looking to snap a four game losing streak before opening Mountain West Conference play. The Time Out Club meet and greet will begin shortly after the game, about 4 p.m.


With freshman Aaron Anderson at the point, Fresno State scores a few in loss at UCLA

For his first college start, Fresno State point guard Aaron Anderson fared pretty well and made a noticeable difference in the Bulldogs’ defense.

In a 91-78 loss at UCLA on Saturday, the Bulldogs scored a season-high against a Division I opponent (they put up 84 on San Diego Christian), getting better shots and making more shots than they had over the past month. Fresno State hit 47.4 percent (27 of 57) of their shots against the Bruins including 58.8 percent (10 of 17) at the 3-point line and had three players score in double-digits led by freshman Marvelle Harris with a career-high 19 points.

‘’He sped up the game and he kept the pace good,’’ Harris said. ‘’He got us open. By him pushing the ball, it knocks their defense off balance. … He pushed the ball, he opened the court up a lot for me to drive and Tyler (Johnson) to knocks down shots.’’

Anderson played 31 minutes and had only two turnovers, and scored seven points and six rebounds. Allen Huddleston, who had started the first 11 games at the point and was to play more off the ball in this game and going forward, was on the court for 14 minutes. He struggled a bit, hitting only one of five shots and one of four free throws and finishing with four points.

‘’I felt good about our flow tonight,’’ Coach Rodney Terry said, after the game. ‘’I thought Aaron did a great job getting us in our transition sets. He got us in our half-court sets. He did a great job of quarterbacking and giving us some organization out there from an offensive standpoint and then our guys stepped up and made some shots.’’

Terry sidestepped a question about expectations for Anderson in his first start, but the experience obviously should pay off down the line and he gets an easier opponent next out in Sonoma State on Dec. 30 to gain more of a comfort level leading the Bulldogs’ at the offensive end.

‘’I think any experience we get right now for those young guys, you know, in a pretty good environment and against some really good talent I think is something to build on for us,’’ Terry said. ‘’He gave us positive minutes from an offensive standpoint and I think he gave us a pretty good defensive effort as well, but there is a lot to build on as we get ready for conference play.’’


Forward Braeden Anderson finally has a date for Fresno State debut – Feb. 6 vs. UNLV

Fresno State has been waiting to find out when forward Braeden Anderson would be cleared by the NCAA and eligible to play this season and now they know.

The 6-foot-9 Anderson, who came to Fresno State after failing to gain admittance to Kansas as a partial qualifier, will play his first game for the Bulldogs on Feb. 6 against Nevada-Las Vegas at the Save Mart Center. That is about six weeks later than they were expecting and hoping to have him, but late is better than never for a player who will add some needed physicality around the basket.

Fresno State has been out-rebounded in 10 of its 12 games this season including by a 42-26 margin in a 91-78 loss at UCLA on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion.

‘’I think that really helps our team obviously in terms of giving us another guy that can come in and give us a positive contribution,’’ Coach Rodney Terry said. ‘’He’s a physical player. He’s learning how to play on the offensive end in terms of his skill set and things of that nature.

‘’But I think him just knowing that there’s light at the end of the tunnel right now, that we have a date, has really energized him. He’s been much better in practice and much more engaged. We’re excited about his arrival and, again, he’s going to be a guy that comes in and gives us another physical body that can go in and bang around a little bit and hopefully help us on both ends of the floor.

Despite increase, Fresno State behind MWC when paying coaches

USA Today released its annual report on coaching salaries including an interesting sidebar on how Boise State got to be Boise State – hiring and maintaining a well-paid group of assistant coaches definitely helps.

Fresno State, which raised its overall pool of money paid to its football staff this year, lags a bit within the Mountain West Conference and is well behind Boise State. According to the numbers obtained by USA Today, the Broncos’ coaches were paid $4,335,374 and the Bulldogs were at $1,925,040.

There were six Mountain West programs ahead of Fresno State – Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State, Air Force, Wyoming and New Mexico.


Needing a quick fix or not, Fresno State will remain active recruiting local junior colleges

Fresno State went into a recruiting dead period that runs through the holidays with non-binding oral commitments from 16 players, seven from junior colleges.

Call that roster repair – the high number of JC recruits are needed in this recruiting class because when Coach Tim DeRuyter and his staff arrived in town the Bulldogs’ program had a glaring lack of depth at a number of positions including the secondary and the offensive and defensive lines.

Ideally, DeRuyter said, he would like to recruit, sign and develop high school players. But the junior colleges will remain an area of focus in the future.

‘’We’ll always go out in the spring time and look to see who are the top JC players,’’ DeRuyter said. ‘’There are a lot of really good JC programs, especially here in the local area, that we’ve got connections to. Just like recruiting the valley (high schools), the JC schools that are here are ones we’re going to have access to and need to look at.

‘’Most players that we’ll recruit are going to be high school guys, but if we have some gaps in our recruiting we’ll fix it there. But I think you can also find next-level players sometimes at the JC level as well and even if we have a pretty good stock at a certain position, if there’s somebody that is a difference maker as a pass-rush guy or a receiver or running back, we’re obviously going to take a look and take a shot at those guys.

‘’We’re probably going to recruit a little bit more (JC players) this year, and maybe next year, to try to get the numbers right. Changing schemes doesn’t always fit exactly. But every year we’re still going to look at the JC guys to see if there are some difference makers out there.’’