Bulldogs’ Allen Huddleston, coming off his best game this season, will remain in bench role

Fresno State’s Allen Huddleston takes off down court against Colorado’s Eli Stalzer Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2012 in Fresno, Calif. (GARY KAZANJIAN/THE FRESNO BEE)

Fresno State freshman point guard Aaron Anderson has had a rough go the past two times out when matched against Nevada junior Deonte Burton and then Boise State sophomore Derrick Marks, and spent most of the second of those games on the bench.

Coach Rodney Terry sat his freshman point guard in the loss to the Broncos, instead playing junior transfer Allen Huddleston 28 minutes, the most he has been on the court since his last start, Dec. 15, in a loss to UC Irvine. Huddleston made the most of it, scoring a season-high 20 points (he had only 18 over the ‘Dogs past six games) with five assists and two steals.

He made good decisions with the ball, took good shots and ran the offense … things he struggled with when starting early in the year and off the bench the past few weeks.

But when the Bulldogs play Colorado State in the Mountain West Conference game on Saturday at the Save Mart Center, Anderson will be back in the starting lineup. Terry said he won’t change the rotation, but is likely to adjust the number of minutes played.

‘’Allen did a great job of stepping in,’’ Terry said. ‘’I had a great talk with him a couple days prior and just said, ‘Hey, we need to spell Aaron some minutes right now. He’s playing a lot of minutes and we need to cut his minutes back and we want you on the floor. You have to take on that responsibility. You took on that challenge early in the year and we need a backup point right now.’ Read more →

Harris Farms horses dot Sunshine Millions fields at Santa Anita

Harris Farms-bred and owned John Scott headlines an eight-horse field in Saturday’s $100,000 Crystal Water at Santa Anita, part of a stakes-filled card on Sunshine Millions Day at the track in Arcadia.

John Scott is the 2-1 favorite for jockey Martin Garcia and trainer Carla Gaines as the horse tries turf for the first time in the 1 1/8-mile-mile race. John Scott, third in the Grade II San Pascual Stakes on Jan. 5, has five victories in 11 lifetime starts and earnings of $400,304.

In this image provided to the Associated Press by Benoit Photo, Harris Farms’ John Scott and Victor Espinoza, right, hold off Kettle Corn and jockey Garrett Gomez on their way to victory in the $85,000 Harry F. Brubaker Stakes horse race, Sept. 1, 2012, at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar.

Also in the Crystal Water field is Huntsville, by Harris Farms sire Unusual Heat, and Harris-raised Big Bane Theory.

A number of other horses entered Saturday were raised at Coalinga-based Harris Farms or sired by horses bred there, including Unusual Way in the $300,000 California Breeders Champion stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Unusual Way is the daughter of Unusual Heat, who also sired Surfcup ($300,000 Cal Breeders for colts) and Best Present Ever ($100,000 Valentine Dancer).

The 4-5 morning-line favorite in the Valentine Dancer is Tiz Flirtatious, sired by Harris’ Tizbud. The big long shot in the race is Harris-bred Toomanytomatoes.

Fresno State assistant not at risk in NCAA investigation into rules violations at Miami

Michael Schwartz is in his second year as a Fresno State men’s basketball assistant coach.

The NCAA investigation into rules violations and impermissible benefits to athletes at the University of Miami continues along a messy course, but Fresno State assistant basketball coach Michael Schwartz is not at risk of penalties from his time at the school.

There were reports this week that all three of Coach Frank Haith’s assistant coaches would be charged with unethical conduct, but Fresno State athletics director Thomas Boeh took the unusual step on Friday of announcing in a press release that Schwartz would not receive a notice of allegations from the NCAA.

“Fresno State has been advised by a representative of the NCAA that assistant men’s basketball coach Michael Schwartz is not at risk and will not receive a notice of allegations stemming from his previous employment at another Division I institution. Given that Fresno State is not involved with the issue, and with respect to the NCAA’s investigation and adjudication process, there will be no further comment regarding the matter,” Boeh said.

Schwartz spent four seasons as an assistant at Miami and six overall — the same period that booster Nevin Shapiro, who is in jail for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme, was providing a slew of impermissible benefits to football and basketball players.

The school was notified by the NCAA on Tuesday that Schwartz would not be implicated in the case, the day before it admitted to improper conduct into its investigation into Miami.

Putting Bullard boys hoops dominance into numbers: Gotta see to believe

Bullard High’s Calvin Young drives by Central’s defense in second half action during the final championship of the 54th Annual Holiday Invitational Tournament held at Hoover High School’s event center on Saturday, December 22, 2012. (ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE)

Was curious, so just crunched some numbers for the Bullard boys basketball program that has reduced Central Section competition to virtual scrimmages for three years running.

Consider:

** The Knights, under coach Tony Amundsen, are 52-3 against section opposition while going 75-13 overall with two consecutive section Division I titles in the past three seasons.

** And here’s the wow number: Bullard has outscored section foes by an average of 25.0 points in those 55 games — 25.0!

Don’t be too quick to say this is all about weak County/Metro Athletic Conference (besides Edison) competition, either. In winning the past two D-I crowns, the Knights defeated Clovis East, Central (twice), Bakersfield and Clovis West (twice).

And while this does not apply to their run against section teams, they are succeeding quite well against perennial state powers as well. That included Southern California Regional wins over Westchester-LA, Taft-Woodlake Hills and Long Beach Poly last year, and conquests this season over then-state No. 2 Salesian-Richmond, Oaks Christian-Westlake Village and Dorsey-LA, among others.

Rugby festival set for Saturday at Wawona Middle School

The Bullard Rugby Club works on passing skills during practice on Monday January 18, 2010. (DARRELL WONG/THE FRESNO BEE)

Get ready to get your scrum on.

All of the Fresno-area rugby clubs — from the high school level to the Fresno State club team to the Fresno Rugby Club — are scheduled to be featured Saturday as part of a day-long festival to the sport at Wawona Middle School in Fresno.

Bullard, Fresno, Roosevelt, Buchanan, Clovis West and Clovis will play in a high school tournament, featuring time-shortened games, starting at 8 a.m. and running until noon. A JV match between Buchanan and Clovis will follow.

After the prep matches, the Fresno Rugby Club will take on Vacaville at 1 p.m. and the Fresno State club team will face off against Nevada at 2 p.m.

The event is free to attend. For more information, contact Harlie Smith with the Central California Youth Rugby Foundation at (559) 259-7073.

Fresno State looking to end long slide on conference road games

Fresno State plays a Mountain West game at Boise State on Wednesday, and anytime the word “at” precedes a conference opponent, it has not been good for the Bulldogs.

Certainly not lately.

The Bulldogs are 0-1 on the road this season, losing 72-45 at New Mexico, and have dropped 15 consecutive conference games away from from the Save Mart Center going back to their days in the Western Athletic Conference. Their last conference win on the road was on Jan. 6, 2011, at Louisiana Tech.

The last time Fresno State won more than one conference road game is 2006′-07 when going 4-4 in the WAC. Between then and now, they are just 3-37 in those games:

2012-’13: 0-1

2011-’12: 0-7

2010-’11: 1-7

2009-’10: 1-7

2008-’09: 0-8

2007-’08: 1-7

Buchanan-Clovis wrestling showdown set for Thursday

Clovis’ Nick Nevills wrestles Anderson Palm from Collins Hills High, on Dec. 7, 2012. (MARK CROSSE/THE FRESNO BEE)

Buchanan High wrestling coach Troy Tirapelle gets a second shot at his father and older brother — Clovis coach and assistant Steve and Adam Tirapelle — in a dual meet setting when the Bears host Clovis on Thursday in a Tri-River Athletic Conference showdown.

The varsity match is expected to begin between 7-7:30 p.m.

Buchanan, in its second season under Troy Tirapelle, enter No. 23 in California while two-time defending state champion Clovis is tops in the californiawrestler.com’s state rankings.

The dual will feature several of the state’s top-ranked individuals, including Buchanan’s D.J. Loren (No. 7 at 106) and Eric An (No. 9 at 220) and Clovis’ Julian Gaytan (No. 8 at 113), Jonas Gaytan (No. 2 at 126), Jason Ladd (No. 4 at 145), Adrian Salas (No. 1 at 182), Matt Weiss (No. 5 at 195) and Nick Nevills (No. 1 at 285).

In all, the Bears have eight wrestlers in the state rankings while the Cougars have 14.

Clovis has won five in a row in the series and haven’t dropped an in-state dual since losing to Buchanan in 2007.

Bulldogs need to make a point at Boise State against guard Derrick Marks

Fresno State’s coach Rodney Terry screams out directions during play against Nevada in second-half action on Jan. 19, 2013. (MARK CROSSE/THE FRESNO BEE)

Fresno State had all kinds of trouble staying in front of Nevada point guard Deonte Burton in its loss last week to the Wolf Pack, and will face perhaps a more difficult task on Wednesday when taking to the road at Boise State and defending Derrick Marks.

‘’He also attacks very well going to the left,’’ Coach Rodney Terry said of the Boise State point, who is the only player in the Mountain West Conference ranked in the top five in scoring (fourth with 17.0 ppg) and assists (fifth with 3.8 apg). ‘’He, unlike Burton, I think, can rise up and make a 25-footer. Marks is a capable open 3-pointer shooter, but he’s not going to force the issue from behind the arc just rising up and taking shots. But he will put constant pressure on that basket and he’s really good at it.’’

The Bulldogs used four players trying to stop Burton from getting to his left – the one thing in their scouting report they wanted to prevent. Burton ended up scoring 22 points, getting to the free throw line 15 times and making 12 of those foul shots. And the Bulldogs will have to do a much better job against Boise State to have a chance against the Broncos, who are 13-4, 1-2 in the MW, and, not that it comes into play on Wednesday, the only team in the country that has been able to beat two ranked opponents on the road.

Boise State also is leading the conference in scoring (77.9 ppg), field goal percentage (48.1) and 3-point field goal percentage (42.3). Fresno State leads the conference in 3-point field goal percentage defense, but this is an area it could get into trouble if it gets into a chase mode on Marks. The Broncos have two shooters on the perimeter in Jeff Elorriaga and Anthony Drmic, who are ranked first and second in the conference in 3-point shooting, knocking down 49.1 and 42.5 percent of their shots from the arc.

Read more →

Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter on JC transfer Rodney Mathews

Fresno State head football coach Tim DeRuyter speaks to the media after last weekend’s 48-15 victory against Air Force clinching a share of the Mountain West championship in the Bulldog’s first season in the conference. Photographed on Monday, November 26, 2012, in Fresno. (ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE)

Phillip Thomas, the first unanimous All-American in Fresno State history, is at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., this week, to be put under the microscope and work out for NFL coaches, scouts and executives, leaving a substantial hole in a Bulldogs’ defense that made a remarkable transition under the 3-4 schemes brought in by Coach Tim DeRuyter and defensive coordinator Nick Toth.

Thomas, also a Jim Thorpe Award finalist, led the nation with interceptions with eight (returning three for TDs to set a school record) and was the Bulldogs’ top tackler with 82.

Defensive backs were a huge priority for Fresno State in the 2013 recruiting class before Thomas had his huge senior season, and the Bulldogs have oral commitments in advance of the Feb. 6 national letter of intent signing day from Donnell Vercher from Fresno City College and Justin Holmes from Edison High and already signed Rodney Mathews from Citrus College in Glendora to build some depth and competition at the strong and free safety positions.

Under NCAA rules, DeRuyter and the Bulldogs staff cannot comment on recruits until after a letter of intent has been signed. But Mathews (6-foot, 195 pounds) has enrolled in school and will participate in spring practices.

Here is DeRuyter on Mathews:

‘’With us losing Phillip, we had a big-time need there. We have some young guys – you know, Charles Washington did some good things on special teams, but he has to learn the defense better. But we just don’t have a lot of veteran guys. Dalen Jones we think is going to be a guy, but we didn’t feel good enough that he’s established himself enough yet so we wanted to bring some competition in there. Mathews is a guy, he’s played against good competition, he’s physical, he plays the ball extremely well. I think he’s going to have a chance to come in and right away, be in here in the spring, and establish that he can be the starter or at least compete for it.’’ Read more →

Fresno’s Paul Islas drafted by MLS’s Chivas USA

Fresno Pacific University’s Paul Islas, right, has a shot blocked by Cal State Stanislaus’ Carlos Gavino, left, in a game Thursday night, August 30, 2012, in Fresno. (ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE)

Paul Islas — who honed his skills locally with the California Odyssey Soccer Club, Bullard High, Fresno Pacific and the Fresno Fuego — was selected Tuesday by Chivas USA with the 19th pick of Major League Soccer’s Supplemental Draft.

Islas, 21, is expected to report to the Carson-based Chivas USA’s training camp this week.

“This is my shot and I can’t let anything get in my way,” Islas said in a Fresno Pacific-issued news release. “I just have to go down and take care business.”

Islas is coming off a 22-goal, 12-assist senior season at Fresno Pacific, where he wasn named an NSCAA Division II All-American. He finished his four-year career as the Sunbirds’ third-leading career goal scorer (55) and assist maker (33).

“I think some people will look at it and say he comes from a smaller school, a smaller area and it’s hard to argue that,” Chivas USA Director of Soccer Operations Kevin Esparza said. “But the top goal scorer in the MLS this past year is a player that came from a Division II school. We will take a gamble and I am looking forward to watching Paul prove everybody wrong.” Read more →