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Coulda, shoulda: Fresno State in postseason basketball, fans in Save Mart Center seats

A record-setting 121-81 win for Fresno State Bulldogs mens basketball against San Jose State

It was a night of record-setting for the Fresno State mens basketball team as they beat San Jose State 121-81 at Save Mart Center in Fresno.
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It was a night of record-setting for the Fresno State mens basketball team as they beat San Jose State 121-81 at Save Mart Center in Fresno.

The Lakers are out. The Bulldogs couldn’t get in.

Good thing some of us always preferred foam wrestling mats to hardwood courts, because it’s nothing but March Sadness for your friendly neighborhood basketball teams.

Fresno State blues

It doesn’t pay to be broke.

The Fresno State men’s basketball team absolutely should be playing ball this week. It’s 23 wins might not have been good enough for the National Invitation Tournament, but it was more than enough to support a run through the College Basketball Invitational.

Only, school officials decided to call it a season. They had 50,000 reasons to say no thanks.

The CBI is a pay-to-play tournament. Fresno State is in no financial position to handle the $50,000 cover charge. So goes an anticlimactic end to one of the most exciting seasons the Bulldogs have put together in a long time – even more so than the 2016 team that went to the NCAA Tournament, in terms of watchability.

Credit school officials for not losing more money than they’ve already lost. Blame the local fans for making sure the school keeps losing money.

You had a 23-win team, and still showed up in record-low numbers at The Grocery Store? And don’t even get us started on how great the Fresno State football team was with all those thousands of empty seats at Bulldog Stadium.

This school can’t afford to not have you much longer, people.

Fresno State's restored wrestling program hosts its first home match of the new era against Illinois, drawing 6,000-plus wild fans Friday night, Nov. 17, 2017 to Save Mart Center in Fresno.

Bulldog bliss

Don’t look at me. My hardly earned dollars go to wrestling tickets, and what an investment that’s been.

Fresno State wrestler Josh Hokit just became the school’s first All-American since 2003, three years before the sport was eliminated by people we don’t talk about anymore. Saturday, Hokit wrapped up his impressive NCAA Championships with a win in the fifth-place match.

The rebirthed program is just two seasons old, and coach Troy Steiner already has put a wrestler on the NCAA Tournament podium, his attendance in the national top-10 twice, and his team in the Top 25 rankings for a few weeks with wins over two ranked opponents.

Amazing.

Basketball this and that

▪ Oh, LeBron.

Blame injuries, or the teammates you wanted to see traded, or the coach you’re going to get fired.

You’re LeBron James. If you can’t lift your team to the playoffs in a league where everyone gets to go to the playoffs, it’s because you’re finally like Mike.

Not Michael Jordan, lord of the Chicago Bulls dynasty. We’re talking about the version of Michael Jordan who came out of retirement for two sorry Washington Wizards seasons. (We know, is there any other kind?)

▪ UC Irvine, best college basketball team in California. Fresno State, best college football team in California.

Long live the old Big West Conference.

▪ In closing, a word of encouragement for all you Golden State Warrior fans.

Your defending champs have the best record in the Western Conference. Stop crying about meaningless losses in March.

You won an NBA Championship before Kevin Durant came to town. Stop worrying about where he’ll go next.

Knock off the angst, before we go Latrell Sprewell on you.

David White is a former Fresno Bee staff writer and NFL beat writer at the San Francisco Chronicle, now a pastor and Sunday sports columnist for The Bee: bydw@sbcglobal.net, @bydavidwhite

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