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WAC Notebook

January 29, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

WAC Notebook

by Phil Dailey

Is Fresno State for real?

There comes a point in the season when a team shows its true colors. For Fresno State, they still keep winning, even when they shouldn’t. It seems like every week Fresno State gets some kind of accolade. Well, they should because they just won’t lose.

The Bulldogs (15-3 overall, 8-1 Western Athletic Conference) have shown all year that they deserve to be mentioned with the top teams in the country-at least with the top mid-major teams in the country.

Last week, the Bulldogs redeemed themselves for their earlier loss to Hawai’i (11-5, 4-4), beating the Warriors by one point.

“They were obviously well prepared,” head coach Ray Lopes said modestly.

“It was a good win for us to defeat the defending WAC champs,” continued Lopes.

Sure, the Bulldogs have three losses, but losing at Hawai’i and at Oklahoma State, who just cracked the top 10, is excusable. The loss that looks bad on their NCAA tournament resume is the letdown in Pullman, Wash. against Washington State 69-66.

It’s not like they lost to Evansville by eight or Wisconsin-Milwaukee, right?

It will only be a matter of time before the basketball world knows if the Bulldogs are a fraud or not.

Six of Fresno State’s final games are on the road. If they get through that undefeated…Watch out!

There’s a new guy in El Paso

Most coaches recruit players for the following season – not Texas El Paso Head Coach Billy Gillespie.

It must be legal, because last Saturday night against Boise State (9-8, 3-4), UTEP (4-12, 2-5) unveiled its newest recruit.

The Miners have been so desperate for players; they spanned the globe and came up with 6-foot-8 Brazilian Thomas Gehrke.

Gehrke made an instant impact scoring 15 points and blocking five shots in the 85-78 overtime win against the Broncos.

“It’s a lot of fun to watch him play, I had no idea he would make that kind of impact,” said Gillespie.

“It was a great win for us.”

The loss of starters Roy Smallwood to a season-ending knee injury and freshman John Tofi for the next few weeks, the Miners were only dressing seven players.

It hasn’t been the greatest of years for Gillespie and the Miners, but at least it looks like the Miners can compete with some other teams in the WAC.

“I just don’t want to many people to get their expectations too high,” continued Gillespie about their new acquisition.

WAC Player of the Week

Quintin Ross blew up last week helping Southern Methodist (9-8, 4-3) to wins against Tulsa (11-5,4-3) and Rice (12-5, 4-3). Ross scored 25 points in the overtime win against the Golden Hurricane-the first victory ever for SMU in the Reynolds Center inn Tulsa, Okla.

Ross scored 27 points and grabbed nine boards in the win against Rice Both Mustang victories came on the road.

Since UTEP won last weekend, and by the looks of it might be a while until they do that again, it’s time to hand this years first honorable mention player of the week to freshman Giovanni St. Amant. Amant played his best game of the season since scoring 26 points against Hawai’i.

Amant shot 9-15 from the floor in the win against Boise State for a game high 25 points.


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