The Fresno State basketball programs finally face fresh faces after four months of intrasquad training, with the men’s and women’s teams hosting exhibition games Friday night at Save Mart Center.
The women tip off at 5 p.m. against Cal State East Bay and the men at 7 p.m. against Dominican of San Rafael. Both opponents are NCAA Division II schools.
“Our kids are sick of playing each other,” women’s coach Jaime White said. “They’re sick of hearing my voice and meaning nothing at this point. They’re really ready to get out there and see what success we have and what kind of confidence we can pull from it.”
Seniors Shauqunna Collins, Toni Smith and Alex Furr are the returning starters from a 2014-15 team that went 23-10 overall and earned the program’s eighth straight postseason bid before a second-round exit in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
We’re going to look at those upperclassmen early, although we have a nice freshman in (Breanne) Knishka.
Fresno State women’s basketball coach Jaime White as the Bulldogs prepare to launch the 2015-16 season
“We’re going to look at those upperclassmen early,” White said, “although we have a nice freshman in (Breanne) Knishka, who has separated herself from the pack a bit.”
Knishka, a 5-foot-10 guard out of Cashmere High in Drysdale, Wash., has been working on making the transition to forward.
“It’s tiring, but we’re all excited,” she said. “It has been a lot to take in, because it has been a whole new system. … I don’t know what to expect, though. I’m excited to see what happens and how I match up with different people.”
The team has key reserves in seniors Moriah Faulk and Brittany Aikens and junior Emilie Volk. Fresno State will look to develop depth from among junior transfers Janae Blount, Kendra Martin and Anais Kirvan and freshmen Candice White, Raven Johnson and Zaria Branch.
Regular-season openers come Nov. 13, when the men host Pepperdine at 7 p.m. and the women travel to UC Riverside for a 4 p.m. game.
High hopes for men’s team – Mountain West Conference Preseason Player of the Year Marvelle Harris is the veteran star on a Fresno State men’s team that has 10 new players but the potential to make a run at conference title contention.
“Our guys have been practicing hard,” coach Rodney Terry said. “We are looking forward to playing in front of the Red Wave on Friday night.”
Fresno State was picked to finish fifth, with one first-place vote, in the conference preseason poll coming off a 15-17 season overall in 2014-15 and a 10-8 league record.
Terry can lean on Harris (16.4 points per game, .433 field-goal percentage, 5.0 rebounds per game), fellow seniors Cezar Guerrero (11.7 points, .422 three-point percentage) and Julien Lewis (11.3 points) and junior Karachi Edo (8.0 points, .564 field-goal percentage) among six returning players.
Additions include 6-9 forwards Cullen Russo of New Mexico Junior College and Torren Jones, who played 30 games as a freshman at Missouri before spending his sophomore year with Midland (Texas) JC.
The exhibition is the Bulldogs’ second in three years against Dominican. Fresno State won 91-67 in 2013. Nevada beat Dominican last week 82-52.
New rules – A faster shot clock for men’s basketball is among the NCAA rules changes that will be on display.
The men will have 30 seconds instead of 35 to shoot and get three second-half timeouts instead of four.
Coaches cannot call timeouts in live-ball situations and, with few exceptions, teams have just 10 seconds to advance the ball past half-court instead of resetting the clock if there is a stoppage.
Officials will order play to begin more quickly after timeouts, and teams also have 15 seconds instead of 20 to make a substitution when a player fouls out. Second and subsequent pace-of-play violations trigger a one-shot technical foul.
Women’s teams shift from two 20-minute halves to four 10-minute quarters, with teams receiving a two-shot bonus after the opposition collects five team fouls per quarter. Team fouls only carry over into overtime.
In the final minute of the fourth quarter and all overtime periods, teams can advance the ball and inbound from the front after a timeout that follows a basket, rebound or change of possession.
Fresno State basketball
FRIDAY EXHIBITIONS AT SAVE MART CENTER
- Women vs. Cal State East Bay, 5 p.m.
- Men vs. Dominican, 7 p.m.
- Of note: One ticket, good for both games, is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and children.