"If we get by Georgetown, the sky will probably fall in," Fresno State Coach Boyd Grant said yesterday, after watching films of Georgetown's 51-43 triumph over Wyoming in a NCAA West Regional second-round playoff game Saturday.
"We don't have the skilled athletes he (Georgetown Coach John Thompson) has. Plus, he has so many of them. Our tallest player is 6-foot-7 so we don't know what a post man does. I wouldn't know what to do with (Pat) Ewing. I guess I'd put him the in the middle somewhere and watch."
Fresno State (27-2), the Pacific Coast Athletic Association champion, plays Georgetown in a West Regional semifinal game Thursday in Provo, Utah, at 11:40 p.m. Fresno State is a methodical, walk-the-ball-up team that runs only when the opportunity presents itself, which isn't often.
The Bulldogs average only 60.2 points per game, but are the No. 1 defensive team in Division I, having allowed only 46.7 points a game. They beat West Virginia, 50-46, to advance to the round of 16.
"We wouldn't be 27-2 if we didn't play defense and control the tempo," Grant said. "Now, we don't hold the ball, we just make teams work on defense. We only take good shots and we work to get them. We are a role team with players who don't run to the scorebook to see how many points they have. We just do things correctly. We have to if we want to win."
Waiting several minutes for a shot is a big change for Grant. Before coming to Fresno State in 1977, he compiled a three-year junior college record of 94-6 at the College of Southern Idaho. One year, his team led the junior college circuit in scoring with 88 points per game.
Grant, who says he had "no shooters, no fans and no players who knew what defense was" when he came to Fresno State, prefers the slow pace these days. Despite criticism heaped on Grant for what others see as a boring brand of basketball, Thompson has a lot of respect for him.
"He must be a good coach," Thompson said. "He won running and now he's winning walking."
The talk doesn't bother Grant, who starts three 6-7 leaping swing men. Senior Rod Higgins is the leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 15 points and six rebounds. The guards are 6-2 sophomore Bernard Thompson and 5-foot-9 Tyrone Bradley, who is a particular favorite of the loyal red-shirted fans who follow the Bulldogs everywhere.
Fresno State wasn't taken too seriously early in the year because it was beating such teams as the University of Pacific by 34 points and losing to Southwestern Louisiana, 57-51.
But Southwestern Louisiana turned out to be a very good team, losing to Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA playoffs. And Fresno State made people take notice after defeating Mississippi, New Mexico State, Lamar, NCAA-entry Pepperdine and California-Irvine.
"We don't press that much, but we're very aggressive defensively, whether we play a straight man or zone," Grant said. "We're fundamental throughout because we have to be. It hasn't been very hard for our players to adjust to this style because of one reason--we're winning."