Fresno City College coach Ed Madec is quick to say what his state No. 2-ranked men’s basketball team is up against against Columbia:
“We have our hands full,” Madec said. “We know that. We know we have our hands full. I don’t know what else to say.”
The Claim Jumpers (14-6) ride into Rams Gym winners of six straight and undefeated in the Central Valley Conference at 5-0. The Rams (20-3) are 4-0 in conference play.
Something has to give when the teams tip off at 5 p.m. Saturday.
“If we don’t bring our A game we’re in trouble,” Madec said. “(Columbia is) probably more skilled and shooting better at every position.”
Columbia guard Rafe King ranks third in the state in 3-pointers with 65, and the Claim Jumpers are fifth in the state from long range.
“They’re a very good team and play very well in the half court,” Rams guard Ryan Swain said. “They’re a very good team overall who play well together.”
While the Claim Jumpers aren’t in the state rankings they are No. 15 in Northern California, with Fresno City sitting atop the regional rankings.
The Rams have played well since the Modesto tournament, winning the past 11. Guard James O’Neal has led the charge and averages 11.6 points per game. Dejon Burdeuax is also averaging in double figures (10.8 ppg).
“We meshed together after that,” Swain said of the Modesto tournament. “Now we are dealing with just perfecting and fine-tuning ourselves and making sure never to look too far ahead. Overall, I think there is still plenty of room for improvement for our team as a whole.
“In the beginning we were young and dealt with any normal growing pains of a new team, but we really turned a corner.”
Still, Madec is looking forward to see how his team responds against Columbia after the Rams went on a 14-5 run against Reedley to pull away for a 74-63 victory Wednesday.
“Everybody is talking about they have the best point guard in the league,” Madec said of Columbia’s King. “That’s what they are saying. We’re going to find out. We’re definitely going to learn what they’re about and see we’re all about.”