Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bray could set Fresno State at QB for most of decade

Intriguing. Can Fresno State keep another huge local talent home and bolster the quarterback position for, possibly, the next 6 years?

Possible it is. Kingsburgh High's Tyler Bray was reportedly offered a scholarship and is quickly becoming one of California's most sought-after slingers. And if he follows in Derek Carr's (Bakersfield Christian High) footsteps and helps paint the Valley Bulldog Red, Fresno State will have by far it's deepest and most exciting group of young QBs ever.

Arguably, the Bulldogs already do have their most depth at the position ever with junior Ryan Colburn (Central Valley Christian High), redshirt freshman Ebahn Feathers (Washington Union High) and Carr. Adding Bray to the mix next year would seal the deal at the most important position on the field. Especially if Bray is willing to wait his turn behind Carr/Feathers, by possibly greyshirting and redshirting (as Tom Brandstater and Paul Pinegar did in years past before earning starring roles).

Amazing that all four QBs would be Valley products if Bray does indeed commit to becoming a 'Dog.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

And the next Fresno State number to be retired is...

A great point brought up recently on the Bark Board by "fsudog86" -- it's long overdue that Fresno State retired Lorenzo Neal's number. Neal wasn't a first-round draft pick like former teammate Trent Dilfer, but Dilfer's was retired years ago. And even David Carr's is already retired.

Neal has had a long NFL career that's proven him the best fullback in NFL history. Seems like merit enough to me. Not to mention how he carried 3-5 USC players on his back at all times in the Bulldogs' 24-7 Freedom Bowl win over the Trojans in 1992.

So we ask you, the fans and blog readers, which Fresno State athletes most deserve to have their numbers retired? It doesn't have to be just football -- any sport?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Who are you? Who, who? Who, who?

Anyone else catch this tidbit from the newly released Athlon college football preview magazine:

For all the crazy talking (coach Pat) Hill does about playing anyone anywhere and all his cute slogans, he really is a pretty conservative offensive football coach. They've just tried to grind it out, and that's not working anymore." — an opposing WAC assistant coach

While we all know the conservative offense criticism of Pat Hill has some truth to it, for cryin' out loud don't say something that harsh of one of your WAC coaching peers and then remain anonymous.

I know part of this Athlon feature is to let coaches be anonymous in their responses, but when it's one of your conference rivals saying it, knowing who that person is might shed some light. If it's an Idaho or Utah State assistant (for example) it might just be sour grapes. But if it's a Boise State assistant maybe there's some more validity since the Broncos have had the Bulldogs' number most of the past decade?

So let's hear Mr. Opposing WAC Assistant Coach ... who are you? Who, who? Who, who?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2011, 2012 WAC basketball tournament headed to Vegas

What do y'all think about this? News is the 2011-2012 WAC basketball tournaments will be held at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

Moving the tourney to Vegas, long rumored to be an option, is good for all the fans of the non-hosting team, but as a Fresno State fan who's seen just ONE WAC tournament in the Save Mart Center, I feel cheated.

The Save Mart Center is too nice and too large a facility to have less hostings under its proverbial belt than Las Cruces, N.M. and Reno, Nev. Maybe that's just it though? Is the Save Mart Center too large an arena to host when Fresno State isn't in the upper echelon of the WAC standings (which has been the case 2 of the past 3 seasons)?

Same ol', same ol' for Edison High products

The trend continues at Edison High, where some of the best and brightest college football prospects are aiming for UCLA and USC instead of Fresno State. Obviously a kid should be able to choose whatever school he wants to go to, but one of these days a group of guys at Edison will buck this trend and truly represent their hometown the way Clifton Smith did in his awe-striking Bulldogs career that culminated with a rookie Pro Bowl appearance in the NFL.

Unfortunately for Fresno State, the local high school producing incredible athletes on a regular basis puts more talent at UCLA and USC than its hometown university. The latest in this line, a week after it was announced Tevin McDonald is headed to UCLA, is Wesley Flowers.

You might remember just a couple years ago a talented cornerback by the name of Courtney Viney also chose the Bruins over the Bulldogs. But a funny thing has happened in the past decade or so, just as Ryan Mathews (pictured) leap-frogged Viney, Fresno State has leap-frogged UCLA in program success.

Fresno State has beaten UCLA the past two times the teams played, and before last year's meeting at the Rose Bowl, a newspaper headline screamed a dose of reality: "UCLA seeks upset of 25th ranked Fresno State," it read.

Yes, that's reality now. When UCLA plays Fresno State, UCLA is the underdog. But for some reason, so many of these Edison High kids just aren't feeling the same way.

When restaurants get irritating

Are you like me? Do you love to support the Fresno area's local restaurants? I try to go local as much as possible (and it helps that my favorites are unique to Fresno).

But you know what's irritating? When local businesses put up decor of non-local schools. Case in point -- I went to the new Red Zone Sports Grill shortly after it opened and vowed not to go back until the nean USC sign near the bar is removed. Yes, there's also a Fresno State neon sign, but why have the USC one at all? Do you think bars in LA have Fresno State neon signs?

We all know how great Dog House Grill is, but what's with the Cal football jersey on the wall? The fact that it's former Clovis High standout Zack Follett's jersey doesn't ease the irritation for me. And the Jeff Garcia 49ers jersey doesn't make up for the fact Garcia is a San Jose State alum. This is flatout offensive to any Fresno State fan.

Been to Casa Corona lately? There's a painting of Pat Hill, David Carr and Tim Simons on the wall representing Fresno State. And there's plenty of old team photos and jerseys in the men's restroom, but none from other rival schools. Just another reason to love Casa...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

McDonald picked interesting way to rep his city

I wasn't aware Edison High's T.J. McDonald (aka Tim McDonald Jr.), the son of former 49er/Cardinal Tim McDonald, was interested in representing his city. But according to this quote in The Fresno Bee about the annual City-County football game, he is:

"It's a big deal to me. You play for four years, you have to represent your
city," said T.J. McDonald, also a defensive back. "Now it's my turn and I didn't
want to miss it."
But McDonald chose a strange way to represent Fresno -- by signing on the dotted line to represent Los Angeles.

McDonald signed a national letter of intent to follow in his father's footsteps and play at USC. And then news broke that his younger brother Tevin McDonald is headed to UCLA. For those keeping score at home, that makes three very gift McDonalds, none of which truly represented their hometown in college.

Fresno isn't some small town with no one who's ever made it to big-time sports fame -- it's loaded with well-known athletes. And Fresno State's not some football program no one's heard of -- it's nationally known and is 1-1 all-time with USC (including the '05 cardiac arrest loss at the LA Coliseum when the Trojans were thought to be the greatest team ever assembled). If you're a high school star, you don't have to leave the Valley to "represent" your city. You do it by actually giving back to the place you came from.

When are more Valley kids going to be like Clovis West's Travis Brown, Bakersfield Christian's Derek Carr, Edison's Nat Harrison, Buchanan's Lars Bramer and Sanger's Nikko Motta? The latest Bulldogs recruiting class showed more local kids dream of becoming Bulldogs, but what about the elite talents still drifting away like the McDonalds, Edison's Cliff Harris and Clovis West's Nate Fellner? Be the hometown hero. Give back. Or go to some college outside the area if you'd like -- just don't claim to be "representing" your city if you're not.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

ESPN perpetuates BCS inequity

At least that's my opinion. Have you checked out ESPN's College Football Live 50 States Tour? Apparently USC, UCLA, Cal and Stanford are the only college football teams that really matter in the Golden State.

As a Fresno State alum, I find that odd. You ask any college football guru in the state which programs are the most successful in the past decade and they'll put USC No. 1 (wonder how that NCAA investigation of Reggie Bush is going?) and then it's either Cal or Fresno State. UCLA is next and Stanford is a distant, distant fifth, just above San Jose State with San Diego State bringing up the rear.

But check out ESPN's voting polls. They ask who is the best Stanford player ever? Who's the best from USC? Cal? UCLA? And then, "Who is the best player to play college football somewhere other than Cal, UCLA, USC or Stanford? That's offensive to me. Right now Marshall Faulk is running away with victory over second place David Carr. But cramming all the non-BCS conference programs into one question while giving less talented, less successful, less prestigious programs like Stanford more attention is whack.

It's just like the college football preview magazines that write several pages on all the cheap BCS-conference teams and then put a half-page on non-BCS teams -- garbage rags. Perpetuating the inequity of college football.

If you agree with me, I say write to ESPN and let them know you don't appreciate the unequal treatment.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Props to Arash Markazi for calling it like it is

In Arash Markazi's SI.com Game 4 report card, he calls out Stan Van Gundy for sitting Rafer Alston for more than a quarter, coming off a 20-point performace in the Orlando Magic's Game 3 win.

Replacing Alston (the former Fresno State standout under Jerry Tarkanian) in the lineup, Jameer Nelson gave up an uncontested 3 to Derek Fisher that sent a game the Magic should have won into overtime. Smooth move Stan.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Concerned about lack of recruits in MLB draft?

If you were like me, you spent the first day of the Major League Baseball Draft hoping to not hear the names of any Fresno State signees who will be joining the Diamond 'Dogs for the 2010 season. Not 'cause you wish negativity for the newest 'Dogs to be, but because you want to see them in Fresno State uniforms instead of seeing them lured away to the minor leagues.

But, after all 50 rounds (yes, 50 rounds!) of the draft were completed, and only ONE Fresno State recruit was chosen -- there might be cause for concern.

Clay Cederquist, a Fowler High product who is one of the most exciting recruits in recent history because of his pure hitting ability, was chosen by the Seattle Mariners with the 1,373rd pick. Granted, he was injured most of his senior season at Fowler, which dropped his stock, but for the Bulldogs to not have any other signees chosen is strange.

Definitely not the norm for a Fresno State program that just last year lost star pitching recruit Graham Johnson to the draft when he was chosen in the fifth round. Especially coming from a recruiting class that is supposed to be the first result of a College World Series national championship...

You tell me. What do you think? Are you concerned about the lack of draft attention the new recruits got? Are you less optimistic on this class now? Or is it nothing to worry about?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Skip to my stardom

"Skip to My Lou" skipped to his NBA Finals stardom last night in the Orglando Magic's four-point win over the L.A. Lakers.

After Rafer Alston was forced to sit the bench half of each of the first two games (both losses), Stan Van Gundy finally decided to leave Alston on the floor, and sit Jameer Nelson. Coming off a labrum injury, Nelson returned for the Finals and played almost as many minutes as Alston, the guy who led the Magic to its playoff run.

The result was lots of missed shots by the two point guards in the first couple games, and a lack of productivity. But Alston, the former Fresno State point guard, was more aggressive with the ball Tuesday night, finishing with 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting as the Magic set a new NBA Finals record with 62.5% shooting.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Texas Rangers feelin' Bulldog Bred

The Texas Rangers just got quite a number of Fresno State fans in their corner. In the compensation round of the MLB Draft, with the 44th pick overall, the Rangers selected former Fresno State pitcher Tanner Scheppers.

Then, in the second round, 62nd overall pick, the Rangers added Fresno State third baseman Tommy Mendonca.

The Scheppers pick is an absolute steal. Draft prognosticators had him going as high as fifth overall, and he was arguably one of the top two pitchers in the draft along with San Diego State's Stephen Strasburg. But Scheppers' shoulder injury from a year ago and signability questions might have scared teams off so much that the Rangers got a potential top of the rotation arm with their 44th pick.

Mendonca was passed up for two high school third basemen earlier in the draft, but is far more ready than any other third baseman in the country to jump up the ranks. Expect to see him in the majors before any others on the board.

Mendonca to be drafted today ... ya think!?

I had already planned to get a little MLB Draft blog goin' today, but when I opened a recent Google Alert email with this story from KMPH I decided to rush it:

Fresno's Mendonca Expected To Be Picked Up In Draft KMPH Fox 26 -
Fresno,CA,USASeveral valley stand-outs are expected to hear their names called
over the three-day draft, including Fresno State third baseman Tommy Mendonca.

If that's not the most "duh" headline of all-time, I don't know what is. But I was glad to see that wasn't actually printed atop the story when I clicked and followed the link.

Today's draft is an exciting one for Fresno State fans -- although bittersweet being that we'll close the chapter on The Great Wall of Mendonca at third base. All-time Fresno State home run king. 2008 College World Series MVP. He made defensive plays so good, so consistently, that ESPN put (count 'em) at least three Mendonca fielding highlights in its postseason package that has been playing during every postseason game this year.

Mendonca, a junior, is as good as gone with 7 figures likely awaiting him in a signing bonus. Pitcher Tanner Scheppers, who was lost to injury during the final homestand of 2008 and missed the CWS glee, has rehabilitated his shoulder while making a handful of appearances for the independent St. Paul Saints. Scheppers was drafted by the Pirates last year, but they refused to give him the first-round money he deserved and he didn't sign. This time, expect Scheppers to go as early as the top five picks. Just take this quote from Fresno State coach Mike Batesole in today's Fresno Bee:
"People call me nuts, but I saw Strasburg pitch again for the second time and
there's no doubt: Tanner is the best [pitcher] in the country," Batesole said.
"With all due respect to Strasburg, I'd pick Tanner."

Other 'Dogs to watch for on the draft board are junior first baseman Alan Ahmady, who was suspended at the end of the regular season, junior pitcher Matt Morse and senior pitcher Holden Sprague.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Who's the king of the court?

A couple friends and I were sitting around this weekend, somewhat depressed the Diamond 'Dogs weren't back in the Super Regionals, and a little excited the preseason football mags are out.

Then we got to talking about Rafer Alston (aka Skip to My Lou), the Rucker Park streetball legend turned Fresno State point guard under Jerry Tarkanian. Much of the talk on local TV news this week has been how Alston is the first former Bulldog to play in the NBA Finals, as he's starting for the Orlando Magic against the Lakers. (Note: While he didn't play in the Finals, Melvin Ely is proud owner of a championship ring with the San Antonio Spurs a couple years ago).
The question is this:
Which former Fresno State star has had the best NBA career?
--Rafer Alston
--Ron Anderson
--Rod Higgins
--Melvin Ely
--Dominic McGuire
--Courtney Alexander

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A news flash for Kevin Frandsen

Hey Kevin Frandsen, guess what, we don't blame you for despising Fresno State so much. Like many san jose staters (the school doesn't deserve capital lettering), you're jealous of the Bulldogs.

And, in case you forgot, the all-time series between Fresno State and san jose state now stands as:
Bulldogs 147, spartans 70

Enjoy the video of the Red Wave celebrating at your favorite restaurant, just across from the Fresno State campus, Dog House Grill...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ping! That's the sound of credibility out the window

As if Fresno State fans weren't irked enough over last week's announcement that Tommy Mendonca was a second-team All-America selection, todays Ping! announcement was even more unjustified to the beloved Turlock Tommy.

Both the official All-America team and Ping!Baseball chose Louisville junior third baseman Chris Dominguez first-team, ahead of Fresno State junior third baseman Tommy Mendonca.

Now, consider Dominguez has comparable stats, hitting .359 with 23 homers and 79 RBIs. Mendonca hit .345, 27 homers, 78 RBIs. Although I vehemently disagree with the Dominguez over Mendonca All-America decision (which we'll touch on soon), I can handle the decision. What I can't handle is Ping!Baseball choosing four other guys ahead of Mendonca (Tony Thompson, Joey Bergman, Anthony Rendon and Mark Krauss). Ridiculous I tell ya!

Since when does the reigning College World Series MVP get tossed aside like this? Especially when that reigning MVP had a far higher batting average, more home runs (broke the school career record) and cut his strikeouts down by darn near half? Weird huh?

Here's the X-factor -- Mendonca also happens to be the nation's best defensive third baseman -- drawing such comparisons as a human vacuum and a brick wall on one side of the infield. If it ever rained baseballs, Mendonca would replace tarp as the best way to keep the field clear. Shouldn't that bump him ahead of a guy with generally the same stats?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Catching up with Chris Herren

Were you one of those kids -- like me -- who instantly became Chris Herren's biggest fan as soon as he hit the Selland Arena court in a Fresno State jersey? We saw how he constantly played his guts out. How he looked at every Fresno State fan in the arena as close family. How he looked at Jerry Tarkanian as a father figure. And how he was flat-out one of the best Bulldogs of all-time.

Then we saw that November 1997 press conference, when a teary-eyed and vulnerable Herren sat next to a choked-up Tark with video cameras rolling and newspapers photographers clicking away. Herren admitted he had a substance-abuse problem and was going to a rehab facility in the middle of the season.

But, for Fresno State fans at the time, it wasn't like the normal hoops-player-does-bad-things-off-the-court story. People felt for Herren -- he was just so darn likeable. He was an underdog with the potential to be a millionaire NBA star, but also the potential to lose to his addictions.

And now, while all that NBA potential is gone, I have a feeling there are a whole lot of 'Dogs fans still rooting for Herren. And despite what this Boston Globe story says about Herren not having many friends left, my guess is he's underestimating the Red Wave.

Who do you want in the starting lineup?

Now that Fresno State's "UnderDOGS to WonderDOGS Part 2" came to an abrupt end after two straight losses to open the NCAA regionals in Irvine, this much we know:

  • Tommy Mendonca and Holden Sprague are true 'Dogs at heart. Both were choked up and nearly moved to tears knowing their Bulldogs careers were coming to an end (Mendonca as an early-round draft pick and the school's all-time home run king).
  • Dusty Robinson is good, as in Freshman All-America good. The left fielder bashed 15 taters and his batting average skyrocketed the last month of the season.
  • Derek Benny is gonna be good, as in Matt Garza/Tanner Scheppers good. Maybe even Jeff Weaver/Bobby Jones good. Benny is a power pitcher, like Garza and Scheppers, but had far more control of his stuff than either of those two did as freshmen.
  • There are five really, and I stress really, annoying kids who are UC Irvine fans. I know because they sat right behind us at the regionals and mocked every traditional Diamond 'Dogs chant. And the three adults with 'em just encouraged the foolishness.

What we don't know, however, is what next year's starting lineup will look like. There's a lot of turnover, a nice group of signees and lots of returning talent. So sound off. Who do you want in the 2010 Fresno State baseball starting lineup? Here's my take:

1. Danny Muno, 2B
2. Nick Hom, 3B
3. Dusty Robinson, LF
4. Jake Johnson, DH
5. Steve Detwiler, RF
6. Clay Cederquist, 1B
7. Brennan Gowens, CF
8. Garrett Weber, SS
9. Trent Garrison, C

Pitching Rotation
Derek Benny
Jake Floethe
Josh Poytress
Matt Morse