Fresno State basketball optimistic | NevadaAppeal.com

Fresno State basketball optimistic

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles previewing Western Athletic Conference men’s basketball teams. Today, the Appeal looks at Fresno State.

BY DARRELL MOODY

Appeal Sports Writer

Fresno State broke a four-year drought when it reached the NIT last season in Steve Cleveland’s second year at the helm.

The Bulldogs were 22-10, and despite losing Quinton Hosley (13.9, 8.9) and Dominic McGuire (13.5, 9.8), they have a chance to better that mark this season.

Most of the optimism surrounding this year’s team stems from the addition of Bryan Harvey, a 6-5 transfer from Louisville, Rekalin Sims, a 6-8 senior transfer from Kentucky, and Dwight O’Neil, who averaged 10.8 two years ago, but was academically ineligible last season.

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Throw that trio in with key returnees like point guard Kevin Bell (9.6), 6-9 forward Hector Hernandez (11.2), 6-3 shooting guard Eddie Miller (10.5) and 6-3 guard Tyson Parker (3.0), and you can see why Cleveland is enthused by this year’s team.

“I like our chemistry,” Cleveland said. “I’m excited about the season. It’s really important for us to get off to a good start.

“There are a number of teams that could win a championship. There are a lot of different teams with high quality returning players. We had two significant losses (McGuire and Hosley) that will be difficult to replace.”

That’s where Harvey and Sims come in.

“Harvey is an outstanding shooter,” Cleveland said. “He has a feel for the game offensively. He’s an unselfish player. His defense and ballhandling are skills he continues to work on. The good thing about transfers is that they get to practice with the team. He didn’t get to practice early because of shoulder surgery.

“Reklin I knew from when I was at BYU and he was at Salt Lake Community College. He went to Kentucky and it wasn’t a perfect fit for him. I don’t usually take one-year transfers. He has an old-school game. He knows how to pass and he knows how to make the extra pass. He’s a four man that can play inside out. He’s certainly capable of scoring; of finding different ways of scoring.”

One of the keys to success at Fresno State will be rebounding. The Bulldogs aren’t long, but they do have quickness. Even with Hosley and McGuire, FSU was a minus-6 in rebound-per-game average, which was good for eighth in the conference. Hopefully Sims will be able to help Fresno State in that aspect of the game.

Cleveland said there are several schools that have a chance to win the conference, and he believes his Bulldogs should be in the mix.

“You have to win on the road or you can’t be a championship team,” said Cleveland, whose team went 8-5 away from the Save Mart Center. “Championship teams win on the road. That’s the difference between second, third and fourth is winning away from home.”

•Contact DarrellMoody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1281