Coulda, shoulda: Fresno State in post­sea­son bas­ket­ball, fans in Save Mart Cen­ter seats

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Sports - BY DAVID WHITE Spe­cial to The Bee

The Lak­ers are out. The Bull­dogs couldn’t get in.

Good thing some of us al­ways pre­ferred foam wrestling mats to hard­wood courts, be­cause it’s noth­ing but March Sad­ness for your friendly neigh­bor­hood bas­ket­ball teams.

FRESNO STATE BLUES

It doesn’t pay to be broke.

The Fresno State men’s bas­ket­ball team ab­so­lutely should be play­ing ball this week. Its 23 wins might not have been good enough for the Na­tional In­vi­ta­tion Tour­na­ment, but it was more than enough to sup­port a run through the Col­lege Bas­ket­ball In­vi­ta­tional.

Only, school of­fi­cials de­cided to call it a sea­son. They had 50,000 rea­sons to say no thanks.

The CBI is a pay-to-play tour­na­ment. Fresno State is in no fi­nan­cial po­si­tion to han­dle the $50,000 cover charge. So goes an an­ti­cli­mac­tic end to one of the most ex­cit­ing sea­sons the Bull­dogs have put to­gether in a long time – even more so than the 2016 team that went to the NCAA Tour­na­ment, in terms of watch­a­bil­ity.

Credit school of­fi­cials for not los­ing more money than they’ve al­ready lost. Blame the lo­cal fans for mak­ing sure the school keeps los­ing money.

You had a 23-win team, and still showed up in record-low num­bers at The Gro­cery Store? And don’t even get us started on how great the Fresno State foot­ball team was with all those thou­sands of empty seats at Bull­dog Sta­dium.

This school can’t af­ford to not have you much longer, peo­ple.

BULL­DOG BLISS

Don’t look at me. My hardly earned dol­lars go to wrestling tick­ets, and what an in­vest­ment that’s been.

Fresno State wrestler Josh Hokit just be­came the school’s first Al­lAmer­i­can since 2003, three years be­fore the sport was elim­i­nated by peo­ple we don’t talk about any­more. Saturday, Hokit wrapped up his im­pres­sive NCAA Cham­pi­onships with a win in the fifth­place match.

The re­birthed pro­gram is just two sea­sons old, and coach Troy Steiner

al­ready has put a wrestler on the NCAA Tour­na­ment podium, his at­ten­dance in the na­tional top-10 twice, and his team in the Top 25 rank­ings for a few weeks with wins over two ranked op­po­nents.

Amaz­ing.

BAS­KET­BALL THIS AND THAT

Oh, LeBron. Blame in­juries, or the team­mates you wanted to see traded, or the coach you’re go­ing to get fired.

You’re LeBron James. If you can’t lift your team to the play­offs in a league where ev­ery­one gets to go to the play­offs, it’s be­cause you’re fi­nally like Mike.

Not Michael Jor­dan, lord of the Chicago Bulls dy­nasty. We’re talk­ing about the ver­sion of Michael Jor­dan who came out of re­tire­ment for two sorry Washington Wiz­ards sea­sons. (We know, is there any other kind?)

UC Irvine, best col­lege bas­ket­ball team in Cal­i­for­nia. Fresno State, best col­lege foot­ball team in Cal­i­for­nia.

Long live the old Big West Con­fer­ence.

In clos­ing, a word of en­cour­age­ment for all you Golden State War­riors fans.

Your de­fend­ing champs have the best record in the Western Con­fer­ence. Stop cry­ing about mean­ing­less losses in March.

You won an NBA Cham­pi­onship be­fore Kevin Du­rant came to

FRESNO STATE’S RE­BORN WRESTLING PRO­GRAM IS TWO YEARS OLD, AND A BULL­DOG HAS PLACED IN THE NCAA TOUR­NA­MENT.

town. Stop wor­ry­ing about where he’ll go next.

Knock off the angst, be­fore we go La­trell Sprewell on you.

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