Fresno State and Saint Mary’s College are waiting on a waiver from the NCAA to play a men’s basketball exhibition game next week with the proceeds going to organizations assisting victims of the wildfires that have devastated Northern California.
The game will be played on Wednesday at Saint Mary’s in Moraga. A tip time has not yet been determined.
“We’re going to get a chance to really help a good cause,” Fresno State coach Rodney Terry said. “All the proceeds are going to a situation where there are a lot of people in need right now.
“This is a good opportunity for us to give back to our state and try to help any way we can with people who have lost a big part of their lives.”
There are 15 major wildfires burning across the state, destroying more than 5,700 structures over 217,000 acres. At least 42 have been killed in the blazes, most in Sonoma County, and one third of evacuees are still waiting to return to their homes.
“The destruction, what they’ve shown on TV, it’s like somebody dropped a bomb,” Terry said. “Every time I’ve seen stuff, the footage, it has wiped whole towns out. That’s a tough deal. People lost a lot, lost their home, lost everything.”
This is a good opportunity for us to give back to our state and try to help any way we can with people who have lost a big part of their lives.
Fresno State coach Rodney Terry
The schools need to get a waiver from the NCAA to play the game – in Division I, teams are prohibited from playing against one another in public exhibition games. The Bulldogs and Gaels are following the lead of Kansas and Missouri, former Big 12 rivals, who are playing an exhibition in Kansas City on Sunday to aid disaster relief organizations in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico hard hit by hurricanes.
The Jayhawks and Tigers have not met on the basketball court since 2012, when Missouri left the Big 12 to join the Southeastern Conference. Many other schools have scheduled exhibitions – Notre Dame vs. Holy Cross, Missouri State vs. Kansas State, Providence vs. Connecticut, Marquette vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
For the Bulldogs, it is a first chance to play an early game against a mid-major power that last season went 29-5 and lost to Arizona in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Gaels, led by 6-foot-11 center Jock Landale, are a likely preseason Top 25 team.
“From a basketball standpoint, we’re going to get a chance to play against one of the top teams in the country, arguably a Top 20 team in the country,” Terry said. “They return four starters and were on the cusp of being a Sweet 16 team last year. It will put a lot of challenges on our big guys – their big guys are really good.
“You’re starting the season a week earlier, but you’re playing one of the elite-level teams in the country that can really shoot the ball.”
Fresno State, which has won 20 or more games in back-to-back seasons and in three of the past four, is scheduled to play exhibitions on Oct. 30 against Pacific Union and Nov. 3 against UC Merced at the Save Mart Center. It opens its 2017-18 season at home against UC Santa Cruz on Nov. 10.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
Fresno State men’s basketball schedule
Home games at Save Mart Center
Pacific Union (exhibition)
UC Merced (exhibition)
UC Santa Cruz
Evansville at Cancun, Mexico
George Mason or Louisiana Tech at Cancun
3 or 5:30 p.m.
at Long Beach State
at Cal Poly
Cal State-Monterey Bay
at Utah State
at Colorado State
at San Diego State
at Air Force
San Diego State
at San Jose State
4 or 7 p.m.
at New Mexico
Mountain West tournament at UNLV