Every year in many conferences there’s always a dark horse team to come out of nowhere to win the league. Is Fresno State that team for the Mountain West?
The head coach of Fresno State earned his money last season with everything that went on. One of the biggest issues coming into the year was how they were they going to replace the production of the former Mountain West Player of the Year in Marvelle Harris. His 17.7 ppg combined with his rebounding and defense were sorely going to be missed.
It took awhile to get things in motion, including a humiliating home loss to Prairie View A&M to start things off, but they rebounded to win all the games they were supposed to win and remained competitive against superior teams like Oregon.
Unfortunately, losses were mounting when the games weren’t being played. Throughout the season there were four dismissals from the program, ranging from academic issues to a domestic violence incident. These were players that were supposed to play big roles for Fresno, forcing others to step up.
But it didn’t stop the Bulldogs, which swept the eventual Mountain West champions Nevada, the only team to do so. They finished fourth in the league with an 11-7 record but were 3-6 on the road including a 102-100 loss at Wyoming in four overtimes. They ultimately couldn’t beat the Wolf Pack a third time, which led them to lose in the first round of the NIT to eventual champ TCU.
From the beginning of last season to now, there are nine new players on the roster. The only loss of consequence was Paul Watson, part of the quartet of guards who pushed the team to the top half of the league. But the other three still remain, and this time they’re looking for a bit better than fourth.