FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – The date was November 29th, 2002. The place was Selland Arena. The Fresno State men’s basketball team opened its last season at Selland against Idaho State in the 24th annual McCaffrey Classic.
It was the head coaching debut of Ray Lopes.
Lopes, who had spent the past eight seasons as an assistant at Oklahoma, had to replace a couple of first-round NBA Draft picks: Melvin Ely and Chris Jefferies.
They went 12th and 27th overall earlier that year.
But Travis DeManby was back.
DeManby, who started all 34 games the previous season, tied a career high that night with 15 points against Idaho State. The Bulldogs beat the Bengals, 65-53, earning Lopes his first win in his first game.
“To be honest with you, this is a very good win,” Lopes said that night. “The kids dug deep and found a way to win against a good basketball team. This is a team that has to have great team play. We don’t have any stars or NBA players, we just have a group that has to play well together.”
Fresno State would start the season with a record of 5-0, finish the season with a record of 20-8 and win the WAC regular season championship. (However, the team was ineligible for the conference tournament.)