#98 Fresno State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Fresno State Bulldogs

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #98
Conference Rank: #6 Mountain West

Fresno State Team Page#98 Fresno State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Fresno State Basketball Tickets

If you are looking for a sleeper team in the Mountain West, look no further than Fresno State. The Bulldogs finished last season with a 15-17 overall record, but were 10-8 in the tough Mountain West. That included home wins over San Diego State, Boise State and New Mexico. The top five scorers are back, including guard Marvelle Harris. Harris led the team with 16.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.0 steals. Obviously he does everything for the Bulldogs and he has the ability to carry the team on his shoulders.

2014-15 Record: 15-17, 10-8
2014-15 Postseason: none
Coach: Rodney Terry
Coach Record: 60-74 at Fresno State, 60-74 overall

Who’s Out:
Alex Davis was the only senior on the roster last season. The 6-9 forward was never going to be a big scoring threat, but Fresno State will miss his shot blocking and rebounding abilities. Guards Emmanuel Owootoah and Darnell Taylor have opted to transfer. Owootoah averaged 22.8 minutes per game and was a solid defender, while Taylor never really found his groove during his one season in Fresno after spending a couple years at the junior college ranks. The backcourt depth will be fine without Owootoah and Taylor thanks to the newcomers.

Who’s In:
Jahmel Taylor spent a year and a half at Washington, where he barely played. The point guard is a talented player and he could make a big impact at Fresno State now that he will be given an opportunity to see the floor. Lionel Ellison is another point guard who should be an upgrade over what Fresno State lost. He is extremely quick and will use that quickness very effectively on defense even if his offense is limited to setting up his teammates. Incoming freshmen Sam Bittner and Grant Shell, a walk-on, will add depth on the wings. Bittner is a smart player with a nice jumper who could be a solid shooter off of the bench if Coach Rodney Terry needs him at all this season. But the bigger need is in the frontcourt where junior college transfers Torren Jones and Cullen Russo and freshman Nate Grimes will look to make an immediate impact. Jones spent his freshman season at Missouri before heading to the junior college ranks. Two years ago at Mizzou the 6-9 forward averaged 2.1 points and 2.3 rebounds in 8.1 minutes per game. His rebounding prowess will immediately bolster the Fresno State frontcourt. Russo is a big man that can stretch the defense. Grimes is the future of the frontcourt and was a very nice pickup for Coach Terry. He has the talent, but it remains to be seen if he is physically and mentally ready to live up to his expectations quite yet.

Who to Watch:
Last season Fresno State often played small with wing Paul Watson at the four spot. Two years ago he was the MW Freshman of the Year and he boosted his numbers last season to 11.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Watson can knock down shots from outside and be relatively tough in the paint. With more frontcourt options, Coach Terry can play Watson on the wing more. That will certainly help in the rebounding department where Fresno State had a putrid -3.2 rebounding margin. Karachi Edo, a 6-6 230 pound forward, was the main interior scoring threat in 2014-2015, averaging 8.0 points and shooting 56.4 percent from the floor. Edo is also a very good shot blocker. Terrell Carter showed promise as a freshman, averaging 3.6 points and 2.0 rebounds in just 10.9 minutes per game. At 6-9 and 275 pounds, Carter can eat up a lot of space.

Final Projection:
Cezar Guerrero missed a lot of time last season and only played in the last 15 games of the 2014-2015 season. That is a big reason why the nonconference record was a bit disappointing. Guerrero is a great all-around guard. When he played a full season two years ago, Guerrero averaged 13.1 points, 3.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals. He will join Harris and Julien Lewis to form an extremely potent backcourt. Lewis, a former transfer from Texas, never really found his shot last year, but he still averaged 11.3 points per game. The backcourt will score enough points, but the key to this season will be the frontcourt. If the returning players continue to develop and the newcomers can at least provide some depth, rebounding and defense, Fresno State will be able to compete with some of the best teams in the Mountain West and maybe even hang around the NCAA Tournament bubble conversation for a while.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Marvelle Harris, Senior, Guard, 16.4 points per game
Cezar Guerrero, Senior, Guard, 11.7 points per game
Julien Lewis, Senior, Guard, 11.3 points per game
Paul Watson, Junior, Forward, 11.1 points per game
Karachi Edo, Junior, Forward, 8.0 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 65.2 (227th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.3 (161, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.8 (207, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.3 (187, 9)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.6 (246, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.0 (267, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.0 (179, 4)
Rebound Margin: -3.2 (293, 9)
Assists Per Game: 10.5 (303, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (55, 4)

Madness 2015 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#156 Nate Grimes


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