Fresno State will receive a $100,000 bonus through the Mountain West for its appearance in the NCAA Tournament. But it faces a more pressing issue along with the rest of the conference with the Bulldogs the only team to make it to the Big Dance this year.
In the sixth year of a 14-year deal with CBS, the NCAA distributes money to conferences through a units system, with each game a team plays counting as one unit for a period of six years. When the Mountain West gets it share of revenue from the NCAA later this year, according to the Albuquerque Journal, it will be based on the units teams in the conference racked up from 2010 to 2015, with each team to receive about $730,000. Fresno State, with its $100,000 bonus this season, will receive about $830,000.
The conference in 2010 had four teams in the NCAA Tournament and two of them, New Mexico and BYU, played two games, a total of six units. In 2011, the MW accrued seven units. In 2012, it was five units. In 2013, it was seven units. In 2014, it was four units. In 2015, it was four units.
But this season just one team advanced to the NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs. And next year, the conference will lose the four units from 2010 and replace it in the distribution model with the one unit from Fresno State this year. The loss of three units represents a significant chunk of revenue from the NCAA. The value of a unit varies year to year, but this season it is expected to be worth about $260,000.
“The more teams that are in, the more money you get down the road,” Fresno State Athletic Director Jim Bartko said. “We want to have three or four teams. I think (basketball coach) Mark Few at Gonzaga said the same thing – they (the West Coast Conference) only got one team in.
“Obviously it helps to have three or four teams in. You all get more money and good exposure. We’ll get there. UNLV and New Mexico, Colorado State and San Diego State usually get in and we have to be in the picture every year.”
Marvelous – Marvelle Harris scored 24 points in the Bulldogs’ loss to Utah on Thursday in the first round of the Midwest Regional and had six assists, four rebounds and two steals. He finished his Fresno State career as the all-time leading scorer with 2,031 points. He also is at the top of career lists for free throws made (506), free throws attempted (678) and field goals attempted (1,595).
- With 207 career steals, he ranks second behind Dominick Young (227, 1995-97).
- With 667 field goals, he ranks second behind Melvin Ely (789, 1999-2002).
- With 396 assists, he ranks sixth; the leader is Kevin Bell (599, 2004-08).
- With 568 three-point attempts, he ranks sixth; the leader is Young (798).
- With 191 three-pointers, he ranks eighth; the leader is Young (279).
Harris had this to say after the loss to Utah on the progress the program made in his four years, improving its win total in the Mountain West every season in going from 5-11 to 9-9 to 10-8 and this season to 13-5 with a tournament championship.
“It’s great,” he said. “We came a long way. We didn’t just want to make the tournament, we wanted to win, of course. But we came a long way. I’m proud of the program, players, coaches, community. We showed a lot of grit and toughness this season.”
Turning it back on you – The Bulldogs obviously had issues with turnovers Thursday, particularly in the first half when they had eight – they had eight or fewer in six of eight games before the tournament.
But they also did a lot of damage, as they have all season. Fresno State forced 20 turnovers and scored 28 points off of them.
“We realized that Fresno State had done a heck of a job,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “Part of the reason they had a nine-game winning streak, their last five games they scored 102 points off of the opponent’s turnovers. The problem is we can’t simulate the hands, stripping, style of defense they played.
“We actually got a chuckle out of the fact that teams had given up 25 and 27 points off of turnovers. Then I looked down at the stat sheet, and we gave up 28 points off the turnovers. So that was the problem for us.”
Fresno State scored 20 or more points off turnovers 10 times this season.
Poeltl problems – Fresno State was up against it with Jakob Poeltl, the 7-foot Utah center. But despite a significant size advantage, the Bulldogs made the going difficult. The big guy had 18 rebounds, three more than Fresno State ... the whole team.
But at the offensive end, the Bulldogs got into Poeltl a bit. He hit 5 of 11 shots, was 6 of 9 at the foul line and had four assists, but also turned over the ball four times.
The four turnovers was one off a season-high – he had five in a loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament championship.
“He puts a lot of pressure on you,” Terry said. “Anytime you have a post presence like that, it helps his perimeter players. Those guys, I don’t know how many threes they made tonight total at the end (seven).
It was tough for me to figure out where they were coming from, when they were double-teaming, if they were double-teaming.
Utah’s Jakob Poeltl, on the Bulldogs’ defense
“He does a great job not only for himself, but he creates for his teammates. You have to have so much attention to him, where he creates opportunities for guys to make shots.”
Poeltl said the Bulldogs’ defense and a matchup with Karachi Edo, who is listed at 6-6 and was giving up a lot of size, did give him problems.
“Well, it was mainly their team defense, just with their scramble defense,” he said. “It was tough for me to figure out where they were coming from, when they were double-teaming, if they were double-teaming. I turned the ball over a little bit too much in the first half.
“(Edo), especially, he’s very athletic. I think towards the end of the game he blocked one of my hook shots. I really wasn’t expecting that. So his athleticism gave me a little bit of trouble. But overall it was probably more their team defense.”
No time for a timeout – After the Bulldogs took a lead, their first in the game, on a three-pointer by Julien Lewis with 10:32 to go, the Utes counterpunched with a 7-0 run of their own and it quickly grew to 19-2. Krystkowiak just let them play through it.
“I’ve got a lot of trust in our basketball team,” he said. “That run, a lot of that was self-inflicted, a combination of some turnovers. We took a couple of ‘me’ shots instead of ‘we’ shots. Couldn’t defend them in transition. I’ve never been a big fan. They had the lead for 33 seconds of the game. I don’t like to call a timeout and let them have a lead for two and a half more minutes during the timeout.
“I was real curious how we were going to respond. Obviously a timeout would be used if we couldn’t stop the bleeding. But it has been a little bit of a consistent trait of our team to bounce back. We’ve had a number of games where we’ve lost our edge a little bit. The gap closes, lose the lead, our guys have been pretty resilient and bounce back. I certainly like to let them try to sort that out on their own and see if that’s going to happen.”
Et cetera – Fresno State, which struggled to get fans through the doors at Save Mart Center, had an allotment of 450 tickets for the Midwest Regional – and sold every one of them.
“I’m proud of our fans for stepping up and the excitement we have in our program,” Bartko said. “This is a start. We’re getting there.”
▪ Junior forward Paul Watson on the Bulldogs’ huddle at mid-court immediately after the game. “We just kind of reflected on the season real quick, talked about all of the progress, the achievements, the accolades, the things that we did. It was a hell of a year for us, a hell of a run. We just wanted to reflect on that and keep positive, just wanted to stay together.”
▪ The Bulldogs had 15 steals in the game, six by Cullen Russo. It was their most in a game since they had 16 in a loss to New Mexico on Jan. 2, the second game of MW play.
▪ After struggling mightily in the first half, the Bulldogs hit 10 of their first 12 shots to open the second.
“We really started out slow offensively,” said Watson, who led the Bulldogs with nine points in the first half and finished with 11. “Our pace is what hurt us and we just didn’t put together stops at the other end. But offensively, we played pretty slow in the beginning. We were able to pick it up, but had we picked up the pace in the first half things probably would have been different.”
▪ The Utes hit 54 percent of their shots (27 of 50), the highest the Bulldogs had allowed this season. Fresno State allowed opponents to hit 50 percent or better six times in 35 games. In the MW Tournament, the Bulldogs had allowed UNLV, Colorado State and San Diego State to make 67 of 177 shots, 37.9 percent.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada