Miners to host Fresno State in first round of CBI

Senior+forward+John+Bohannon+makes+a+layup+against+East+Carolina.

Michaela Roman

Senior forward John Bohannon makes a layup against East Carolina.

Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter

It’s a chance for some young players to get some more experience and to try to play for something meaningful.”

— Tim Floyd, head basketball coach

The Miners have an opportunity to redeem themselves in the (CBI) College Basketball Invitational Tournament after a disappointing showing at the 2014 Conference USA Basketball Tournament.

“It’s an opportunity for this basketball team to continue it’s season. We all had aspirations, everyone in the city and our team got greedy and wanted more basketball,” head coach Tim Floyd said. “We wanted NCAA Tournament basketball, but we don’t have it. Were going to play at home against a team that has proven themselves in a tough Mountain West Conference.”

For those who don’t know, the CBI is a single-elimination tournament consisting of 16 teams. The two finalists of the tournament will play a best-of-three championship series. The CBI is open to Division I teams that failed to make the NCAA and NIT tournaments.

Four years ago, the Miners competed in the 2009 CBI and lost in the finals to Oregon State, two games to one. This year, the Miners go into the CBI as one of the best teams in the field and will have a chance to repeat or surpass the success they had in 2009.

The Miners will open the tournament against the 17-16 Fresno State Bulldogs on March 17 at the Don Haskins Center.

This year, the Bulldogs have had one of the toughest schedules in the nation and have faced four top-25 opponents, and six teams that are playing in the 2014 NCAA tournament.

“They remind me of some of the teams that we have seen on the perimeter. They have multiple ball handlers from 6’ 4” to 6’ 7” that can all shoot it, they can all drive it and they play out of a random quick screen n’ rolls.” Floyd said. “They run a couple of actions, but they really share and move the ball. I think their coach Rodney Terry has them playing exceptionally hard this point in the season.”

The Bulldogs are loaded at the guard positions, having four players averaging 10 points or more. Senior guard Tyler Johnson leads the Bulldogs, averaging 16 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game. Johnson is shooting a career high from the field, 3-point and free throw line.

The Bulldogs strengths are few and far between, but one category where Fresno State ranks inside the top 50 is in 3-pointers made and 3-pointers attempted. The Bulldogs had five players with at least 35 3-pointers made.

Where the Bulldogs are good at shooting the 3, the Miners are great at defending against the 3. The Miners are holding their opponents to 29 percent from downtown, which ranks seventh best in the nation.  All this starts with the great defense of junior guard Julian Washburn.

All year, Washburn has locked down the best perimeter players and contributed on the offensive end. Washburn’s most notable game came against East Carolina, where he shut down senior guard Akeem Richmond, who happens to be one of the best 3-point shooters in college basketball history.

The Miners will be the heavy favorites against Fresno State, especially since the game is on the Miners’ home floor. If the Miners win against Fresno

State, they will play the winner of the Princeton-Tulane game on March 24.

The toughest teams in the 16-team field other than UTEP are Oregon State, Wyoming and Texas A&M.

The Miners winning the CBI could be redemption for somewhat of a lost season.

“I think that everyone playing right now in this tournament has a chance to demonstrate that they like basketball,” Floyd said “It’s a chance for some young players to get some more experience and to try to play for something meaningful.”