Team preview: Fresno State

Blue Ribbon Yearbook previews the 2006-07 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: October 30, 2006, 9:25 AM ET
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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

COACH AND PROGRAM

If there is a team that could come out of the pack and challenge Nevada for the WAC championship, it's Fresno State.

Second-year coach Steve Cleveland endured a difficult first campaign that saw the Bulldogs not take part in the postseason for past transgressions that were addressed fully by the NCAA last spring.

Cleveland stood before the glare of the media to address the probation placed on the program through 2010 and said, "Today is a new chapter, not only for the men's basketball team, but the entire Fresno State athletic department."

Hired from BYU to remove the stigma that has doggedly followed this program since the days of Jerry Tarkanian, Cleveland returned to his old stomping grounds and promptly laid down the law. If you're going to play for him, you had best follow the rules.

No one is arguing with Cleveland now as he welcomes back five starters, including a pair of the most talented players in the WAC. Last year, Fresno State finished 7-1 at home in conference play, but managed a meager 1-7 on the road to wind up at 8-8.

Fresno State didn't take part in the postseason, an imposed penalty by the school, but it's likely the Bulldogs would have pulled off an upset or two in the WAC Tournament.

Early in the season, there was a period of adjustment for this team and coaches as they tried to find that elusive winning blend. The players Cleveland kept bought in to his schemes and dreams, and could evolve into one of the teams to beat in the WAC this season.

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