Fresno State forward Cullen Russo continues to work through an ongoing academic issue, and his status for the Bulldogs’ Mountain West game Wednesday night against Colorado State at Save Mart Center is in doubt.
The 6-foot-9 senior could be cleared to play against the Rams. He also could miss a couple games or end up ineligible for the spring semester.
“The window is really not on our timetable,” coach Rodney Terry said. “A lot of times you have to play it in terms of what needs to get done.”
The Bulldogs have won 11 consecutive Mountain West games at Save Mart Center and last season beat Colorado State 87-73 there.
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The Bulldogs (11-7, 3-3 MW) didn’t miss Russo much in an 89-80 victory over Boise State, which went into that game 4-0 and the only MW team yet to lose a conference game. Terry shuffled his starting lineup coming off back-to-back losses at San Jose State and at Air Force, with sophomore Sam Bittner moving in to start at the four (power forward). But in the second half, when the Broncos went with a smaller lineup, the Bulldogs went back to senior Paul Watson with Karachi Edo playing the five.
As Terry pointed out, Watson in 2014 was the conference’s Freshman of the Year when playing the four.
The Bulldogs won’t be lacking there.
“We’re just going to be who we are,” he said. “Paul played the four for two years for us and did a great job in the game for us the other night (against Boise State) when they downsized and they had (Chandler) Hutchison at the four. Paul came in and played the four for us. Paul is a willing player. Paul will play wherever we tell him and he has been a great teammate all year. Plus, he’s a guy that can make shots at the four.
“We have a proven guy that has done it. We have Karachi that knows how to do it. We have Sam that will play with physicality. We have opportunities for other guys to step up right now until his situation kind of finishes out.”
We have a proven guy that has done it. We have Karachi (Edo) that knows how to do it. We have Sam (Bittner) that will play with physicality. We have opportunities for other guys to step up right now until his situation kind of finishes out.
Fresno State coach Rodney Terry, on the status of forward Cullen Russo
Given the matchups, Bryson Williams, the freshman from Roosevelt High, could play more. Williams logged 19 minutes against Boise State, scoring a career-high 14 points with seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
“They do have two bigs,” Terry said of Colorado State (11-7, 3-2). “Everything is all dictated on matchups. If the matchup dictates an opportunity for him (Williams) to be out there for a longer period of time, then he’ll be out there. I like what he has done.
“The guys we put out there need to play with urgency to start the game, whether it’s the start of the game or the start of the half.”
Et cetera – The Rams will be without juniors Kimani Jackson, Che Bob and Devocio Butler, all academically ineligible for the spring semester.
47.6 Bulldogs guard Jahmel Taylor’s 3-point shooting percentage, 10th in the nation
They have added Juan Sabino II, a walk-on from the track team, to bolster a roster that is down to eight eligible players. The Rams have four players sitting out this season under NCAA transfer rules. According to The (Fort Collins) Coloradoan, walk-on Alex Tarkanian, the grandson of former UNLV and Fresno State coach Jerry Tarkanian, left the program between semesters.
But the Bulldogs don’t see them as short, with Gian Clavell (17.1 ppg) and Emmanuel Omogbo (12.9 ppg) still on the floor.
“They have a lot of firepower,” Fresno State guard Jahmel Taylor said. “Each guard is very aggressive and knows how to find ways to score. Their bigs are very active and kind stretch the floor out at times. They’re a good team.”
▪ All fire, police and paramedic personnel will get into Wednesday’s game free with a valid ID.
▪ Bulldogs freshman point guard Ryan Beddeo, who has been out all season with a lower leg injury, has started to practice.
“I hate that the fact for him that he has been injured, because I do think he’s a guy that plays the way we like to play – hard-nosed, plays defense,” Terry said. “He has already played a year of prep (school) basketball so he has played against some of the best players in the country. So we knew he wouldn’t be afraid. He just had an unfortunate injury.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
FRESNO STATE VS. COLORADO STATE
- Wednesday: 8 p.m. at Save Mart Center
- Records: Bulldogs 11-7, 3-3 Mountain West; Rams 11-7, 3-2
- TV/radio: CBS Sports Network/KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Notable: The Rams are fourth in the MW in rebounding margin at plus-3.2 per game and are 10-0 this season when outrebounding their opponent. Fresno State has been much better this season rebounding the basketball and is sixth in the conference at plus-1.4.