Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Night Wise

You know how sometimes you just get to thinking about Fresno State, and a plethora of ideas hit you all at once? Well, for me, that's right now.

Read this story from the Visalia Times-Delta. Bryce Harris may very well earn the starting left tackle job this year (although it was interesting Devan Cunningham got work there on Friday). That's not my issue with this story though. The issue is at the very end of the write-up, where the 'Dogs are predicted to go 5-7 in 2009. Maybe...but I'd just like to know what research this writer did to be able to say expect most preseason publications to predict the 'Dogs to finish 1-3 in non-conference and 4-4 in the WAC?

Derek Benny is going to be good. At this point in his career, the freshman pitcher is ahead of recent 'Dogs Tanner Scheppers, Doug Fister and Matt Garza in his development. All he did today was throw a complete-game, two-hit shutout in a 10-0 win over Lipscomb while facing the minimum 27 batters -- the first time that's happened at Fresno State since 1967.

Tommy Mendonca is surely going to break the school's all-time home run record. The most fascinating question now is whether he can top Lance Shebulut's single-season mark of 32 homers? With 10 jacks in 22 games, Mendonca is sure on pace to give it a run.

Today's doubleheader sweep by the Diamond 'Dogs has them two games over .500 at 12-10. But yesterday, sitting at 10-10, the annual Mike Batesole regular-season frustration set in. Why do Batesole's teams always get off to less-than-impressive starts?

And a predition of my own -- Ebahn Feathers will not start at QB. Feathers' lack of throwing ability in spring camp is quickly knocking him out of contention, especially when Derek Carr and Matt Faulkner are looking so good. Not that Faulkner will win it either, but Carr's just too talented to ignore right now and will likely battle Ryan Colburn for the nod. Count on this though, Feathers will have packages that allow him to contribute every game.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Show 'n' tell

If you're enough of a diehard to search out and find a Fresno State blog, then hopefully this will be a fairly entertaining and unique post for you.

This is one of those can't-find-anywhere-else blog posts that I thought ahead of time would be fun to share. It happened rather quickly and spontaneously, but the end of it resulted in the video below. This past Thursday I had lunch with a friend of mine, Derek Carr, a freshman quarterback for Fresno State. The one sentence version is that I told him I wanted to play some catch, so he got on the horn and rounded up some guys for an afternoon workout.

Guys like Rashad Evans, Vince Pascoe and Desia Dunn (for those that don't know, it's pronounced Deezs-uh) came out. All the video I took was of their play, so I won't go into detail about them (unless you want my opinion on something I might have seen, in which case just leave a comment). I will say that Evans is really quick and AJ Johnson (Fr. Wr) is fast.

Instead, I want to share my experience of catching a ball from Derek. First things first, it's pretty dang cool to play catch with an official game ball with the FS logo burned on the ball. The Bulldog Shop would make some serious money selling those things. Second, he throws really hard. He says Dave has him beat by a hair right now, but by the end of his career, that might change. But luckily for me, I grew up playing baseball, mostly as a catcher, so I have good hands and have caught baseballs coming really fast at me.

The most deceiving thing was how hard the ball came with such little effort. Derek is 6'3" with decent sized hands, and the footballs are surprisingly light, so it comes at you quickly. You have to have strong but soft hands at the same time. Not that you care, but I'm happy to report that he was pretty dang impressed with the stickiness of my hands.

The other thing I have a new perspective on is catches made by receivers that are not on the money. This ball comes at you with some oomph on it and feels almost like one of the lighter medicine balls hitting you in the hands. It takes real focus to pull one of those things in. So the shoe-string catches you see on TV, or the ones where they have to turn back the other way they are running to grab it, those are really good catches.

As you can imagine, it was fun as heck to go out there and feel like part of the team.

Next time I go out there with Derek and play I'm going to try and get a first-person video of the ball coming at me. Hopefully that will put some pictures to my words.

For the time being, the video below is most of what went on at the workout. I uploaded it to youtube through imovie hd, and I'm not really a tech guy, so if you have any suggestions on how to clean up some of the frame rate stuff, I'm all ears.

Be sure to click on the HD button though:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Women's basketball vs. softball?

Listening to the final seconds tick down as the Fresno State women's b-ball team beat Nevada for the WAC tourney championship on Saturday, I couldn't help but let out a "WOO!"

This is an exciting bunch of Lady Bulldogs, and coach Adrian Wiggins is a genuine guy -- the type of guy who's easy to root for because he seems to be rooting for everyone else around town just as much. And hey, the 'Dogs are going dancing for the second straight year -- after never having gone to an NCAA Tournament in school history before. Take that Stacy Johnson-Klein...

Now to the whole point. A friend of mine brought up an interesting question this week when he said he never thought he'd see the day Fresno State's women's hoops team was better than its softball team. My reply: "Is it better?"

While Margie Wright's softball team has been a big disappointment so far in this young season, many Red Wavers are shaking in their cleats hoping the team's nation-best consecutive NCAA Regionals streak continues this year (Fresno State is the only school in the country to make every NCAA tournament -- ever)! But, superhero pitcher Morgan Melloh is battling a sophomore slump of inconsistency and the team's offense is, well, pathetic. We here at The Bulldog Bounce knew losing Jenna Cervantez and Aja Schuber would hurt -- but we didn't realize it would be this bad.

Last year, Fresno State finished 54-13. So far this year, the Bulldogs are 14-12.

But if you're thinking it's obvious the women's basketball team is more successful right now, not so fast. Let's consider the softball team plays a juggernaut of a schedule, with top 25 teams in at least 50% of its games so far. The women's hoops squad plays a decent non-conference slate, but then strolled through the dreadful WAC, which isn't much of a conference since Louisiana Tech's fall from grace.

Consider this, if winning the WAC was all that on a national scale, why has Fresno State been seeded 13th and 14th in the past two NCAA tourneys?

So Red Wave, you tell us. Which program is more successful today -- women's basketball or softball? And why?

Monday, March 16, 2009

In memory of Dan Brown

It was a tough weekend to be a Bulldog. For lots of people. And that's because, seemingly, Dan Brown touched so very many in his 12 years in Fresno, and one can only assume everywhere he's been before.

The Fresno State defensive coordinator, at 50 years old, died on Friday. And to hear former players such as Marcus Riley today on ESPN 1430 and Jason Shirley, Alan Goodwin and Ahijah Lane in The Fresno Bee talk of Brown, one really gets a sense of what kind of guy he was. What kind of mentor he was. The type of coach he was.

Brown leaves behind his wife and six children, including Fresno State linebacker Eric Brown, who saw extensive special teams action in 2007, and incoming high-profile linebacker Travis Brown. The Fresno community will miss Dan Brown a great deal. And I think the Bulldog Bounce speaks for all Red Wavers by wishing the Brown family all our best. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

We leave you with the words of Jack Fertig, the former Fresno State director of basketball operations under Jerry Tarkanian. A recent Fertig blog captured a bit more of Brown's personality from one master of whit to another.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Can you point me to a guard, please?

So is this who Steve Cleveland's Fresno State squad will turn to at point guard next season? Fresno City College's Sultan Toles-Bey?

If you've watched Toles-Bey play this year, we'd love to hear your he the right guy to bring in?

Interesting thought, and one that hadn't occurred to me before (mainly because all we ever hear about Ed Madec's FCC teams are that they dominate the state miraculously without any Division 1 talent. Well, maybe that's not the case this year?

Toles-Bey was the Central Valley Conference MVP and knocked down 113 3-pointers. And goodness knows Fresno State needs more out of the position than what freshman Bryce Cartwright offered down the stretch.

Cartwright still has plenty of tools and potential, but the mental mistakes and crucial turnovers late in tight games are pretty much the worst thing a point guard can do. He's supposed to be the least mistake-prone guy on the floor. Brandon Sperling isn't a starting option unless he shows improvement ball-handling and passing.

Either way, getting some new blood at the position is a must if the 'Dogs are going to win the WAC in 2009. And don't laugh, that's a legit possibility with Sylvester Seay, Paul George and incoming center Greg Smith as arguably the conference's most talented trio.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I, too, am so sick of Boise

Gotta love Derek Carr's confidence and aspirations:

“I know in time if I’m named the starter we can beat Boise. I’m so sick of those guys, and I know we can win conference championships with the talent we have. I came here to give the fans what they truly want: a national championship,” Carr said.
Here's the whole story, with nice quotes from Ebahn Feathers and Ryan Colburn, the other two Fresno State QBs in the running to start also.

They are merely freshmen

That's been quite the theme around Pete Beiden Field lately with the '09 Fresno State baseball team. Heck, it's been the theme all year with the men's basketball team too. The difference, though, is the baseball team is winning -- and winning big -- albeit against weak competition like Buffalo (22-4), Portland (7-0) and Cal State-Bakersfield (16-1).

Let's break down the young 'uns on the Diamond 'Dogs:

  • Kenny Wise, can't say enough about the way this kid's been taking at-bats. 2 for 2 with 2 RBIs and a walk yesterday at the DH spot. Now batting .389 on the year, the lefty Wise is making it tough for Jordan Ribera to see the field against right-handed pitching (although Ribs did hit a jack after striking out looking yesterday). For the record, Ribera is now hitting .077 on the young season with 10 strikeouts in 13 at-bats.
  • Josh Poytress, the highly-touted Fowler High grad was brilliant in his first start on Monday, shutting down Portland in five innings (they're brininging him along slowly). No complaints about a lefty with a 0.00 ERA in 7 2/3 innings who's throwing 92-93 mph gas.
  • Derek Benny, while the 6-foot-5 flamethrower has been touched up sporadically, the potential he offers is exciting fans at Beiden Field. Think Matt Garza/Tanner Scheppers but taller if he develops. He's already better than those two were as freshmen.
  • Brennan Gowens, fans have to like his play running down flyballs in center field lately. Plus, his balanced plate approach from the left side allows him to grip and rip. He gets after it hard, the way Mike Batesole loves for his guys to approach the game. A .350 average, 1 HR and 4 RBI -- not too shabby.
  • Dusty Robinson, the much ballyhooed high school power phenom unleashed on one and took it over the left field wall and out of the park last night (his first homer since the season opener against Washington). He's batting .333 and seems to be the guy in left field for now.
  • Taylor Garrison, the pitcher has turned in 7 1/3 innings of relief and given up just one earned run. It's hard to remember a time when any freshmen have made a big impact on the mound, let alone three of them. Even sophomore Jake Floethe, who's been nothing short of dominant in his three starts, had an 8.64 ERA as a freshman, compared to 0.95 so far this year.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Curious poll results...

So, looking at our current poll on the right, lots of people have said they don't plan to attend any games at Beiden Field this season. This is quite the head-scratcher for me unless these are non-'Dogs fans voting.

I'm curious, and would like to hear from those of you who won't be attending games this year -- how come?