Fresno State junior Bego Faz Davalos entered the 2016-2017 season with a national reputation and an upbeat attitude about the Fresno State Women’s Basketball team.
“My girls have been working really hard, and I just can’t wait to see everything come together,” she said at a recent press conference.
The 2016-2017 season started in early November.
Last season, Faz Davalos led the National Collegiate Athletic Association in total blocks (136) while averaging four blocks per game. She was named the Defensive Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference.
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The Bulldogs went 22-12 in the 2015-2016 season, lost by one point in the Mountain West championship game and arrived at the second round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.
Head coach Jaime White said she’s counting on the experience of Faz Davalos and sophomore Breanne Knishka for the 2016-2017 season.
Redshirt sophomore Tory Jacobs is also a solid player, White added.
“She’s going to do a nice job for us,” White said about the transfer student from University of Minnesota.
Freshman Katelin Noyer, a native of New Zealand, is also a strong addition — standing at 6-feet-4-inches tall — to the team.
Noyer’s height and age illustrate two factors about the team. Eleven of the 15 players are freshmen or sophomores.
White is working with the players to get rid of jitters so they can feel comfortable during games.
White also said she’s looking for Faz Davalos to score more points to “get her game to the next level” and become the Player of the Year.
“I think that’s her goal, along with ours,” White said.
“I like how my teammates can be leaders, too,” Faz Davalos added. “I can enjoy that leadership, and we can share it. It’s great to learn from other people. I feel that’s important.”
Faz Davalos said she isn’t feeling much pressure as the defending top blocker in the nation: “Maybe I will later. But for now, I just want to enjoy one game at a time.”
White and Faz Davalos spoke about the Bulldog’s 55-54 last-minute loss to Colorado State University during the Mountain West title game in March.
It was “a long summer” White said of “looking back and contemplating what could have been, what we did wrong and what we could have done better.”
But, she added, the Bulldogs “overachieved” after being picked to finish fourth in the Mountain West.
Faz Davalos said: “It was a nice game to learn from and move on.”
In a separate interview, she offered her views on various topics:
Q: Favorite professional basketball player?
A: Lebron James. “Everybody hates him, but I like him. He’s totally a beast. He works super hard, and nobody can stop him. So I’m impressed.”
Q: What’s the best thing about playing Division 1 basketball?
A: “The level of play. Everybody has really good skills.”
Q: What’s an interesting thing about Fresno?
A: “The fans. They’re super loyal and supportive,” she said. “Not everybody has that. We go to other [arenas] and they’re empty sometimes. Our fans are always there.”
Roster for The 2016-2017 season
Zaria Branch - 5’ 9”
Kristina Cavey - 5’ 11”
Sharae Chalmers - 6’ 2”
Bego Faz Davalos - 6’ 3”
Tory Jacobs - 5’ 10”
Raven Johnson - 5’ 10”
Anais Kirvan - 6’ 2”
Breanne Knishka - 5’ 10”
Kendra Martin - 5’ 11”
Megan Nilsson - 6’ 2”
Katelin Noyer - 6’ 4”
Jordanna Porter - 5’ 10”
Saraya Smith - 5’ 10”
Emilie Volk - 6’ 1”
Candice White - 5’ 8”
Associate head coach: Mandi Carver
Assistant coaches: Laura Dinkins and Tom Perkins
Director of operations: Bobby Ratterree
Graduate assistant: Stephanie Lee
SCHEDULE FOR THE 2016-2017 SEASON
Home games are played at Save Mart Center
7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 30 vs. University of San Francisco
7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 7 vs. California State University, Dominguez Hills
7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16 vs. University of California, Santa Barbara
7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 29 vs. University of New Mexico
2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 7 vs. San Jose State University
7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11 vs. Air Force Academy
2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 21 vs. University of Nevada, Reno
2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28 vs. Utah State University
7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8 vs. University of Wyoming
2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 11 vs. Colorado State University
7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 22 vs. San Diego State University
7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 28 vs. Boise State University
Head coach Jaime White on Twitter: www.twitter.com/coachjwhite