Terry and the Bulldogs are likely to stay on point against UNLV

Fresno State’s Aaron Anderson grabs a loose ball below Colorado State’s basket at the Save Mart Center on Jan. 26, 2013. (ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE)

In a loss to Air Force last time out, Fresno State got more production at the offensive end from backup point guard Allen Huddleston than it did from starter Aaron Anderson, for a third consecutive game.

Huddleston scored 11 points with three assists against the Falcons and over the past three games has played the majority of minutes at the point and is averaging 15.3 points and 3.0 assists, while Anderson has not scored and does not have an assist.

But the Bulldogs are likely to keep the rotation intact on Wednesday when they play Nevada-Las Vegas in a Mountain West Conference game at the Save Mart Center.

‘’Allen has been more productive here of late, but I like our rotation,’’ Coach Rodney Terry said, after the loss to the Air Force. ‘’We get some bench scoring and a lift off the bench when Allen comes in and I do think it takes some pressure off of Allen at the start of the game to be able to come in and get a feel for what’s going on out there. He can come in and not have a lot of pressure on him. He can come in and play relaxed and get in the groove of the game.

‘’It think it helps him and I think it helps Aaron, as well. I think Aaron tries to set the tone for us from a defensive standpoint and I think our guys have a lot of confidence in him from a defensive standpoint to start the game. I think it helps us in that regard.

‘’I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that rotation and the way we’re doing it.’’

Answers at the point guard position for Fresno State are a matter of adjustment

Fresno State’s Allen Huddleston looks for a shot against Colorado’s defenders Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2012 in Fresno, Calif. (GARY KAZANJIAN/THE FRESNO BEE)

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.

Fresno State’s Aaron Anderson shoots while defended by Nevada’s Marquez Coleman in second-half action on Jan. 19, 2013. (MARK CROSSE/THE FRESNO BEE)

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.’’

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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 →

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.


Fresno State Coach Rodney Terry challenging point guards for better play

Fresno State point guard Allen Huddleston led the Bulldogs with 19 points in a 77-68 exhibition victory over Fresno Pacific on Friday. He hit 5 of 9 shots, including 3 of 4 at the three-point line. He also had eight assists. But it was his eight turnovers that stood out, eight of the Bulldogs’ 25 in the game.

‘’Allen Huddleston, he hasn’t played in a whole year,’’ Coach Rodney Terry said, of the transfer from Pacific. ‘’But can’t make any excuses for him because some of the mistakes he’s making right now, we can’t coach. You know, he’s going to have to put it right back on him again in terms of taking care of the basketball, getting in and getting some extra ball-handling work and get some things done.’’

Turnovers have been an issue since practices started last month, in a scrimmage two weeks ago and a closed scrimmage against USC last week. It has not just been the point guard – forward Jerry Brown had six turnovers against the Sunbirds and Kevin Foster, Tyler Johnson and freshmen Tanner Giddings and Aaron Anderson had two.

But eight is more than enough.

‘’He’s got a lot of room to grow,’’ Terry said. ‘’I’m going to be hard on that position because, again, we can’t be a team that beats ourselves. We have to give ourselves a chance to win. A year ago we had one of the better assists-to-turnover ratios in the country and we have to take care of the basketball.

‘’Steven Shepp did that for us a year ago and that’s the challenge that Allen is going to have to continue to get better each and every day. He’s going to have to get better to do it. Aaron is going to have to help him a little bit, Tyler is going to have to help him. We’ll get (Kevin Olekaibe) back here in a next couple of days and we’ll acclimate him and get him back in there to help with the ball handling as well.’’