FRESNO, Calif. — The Fresno State men’s basketball team sits at 5-11 overall, but a lot of that has to do with the youth of this team; the Bulldogs have had their share of freshmen playing and one of the standouts stands at 6’11.”
“My dad’s 6’5,” my mom’s 5’5,” so I guess I got kinda lucky,” said Fresno State freshman forward Orlando Robinson, also known as “O.”
That 6’11” frame has been working hard this season for Fresno State. In Robinson’s first year as a Bulldog, he already has four double-double outings and three 20-point games.
“Ya know, I don’t get too nostalgic over a freshman,” said Fresno State head men’s basketball coach Justin Hutson. “He’s a good player, we’re happy that he’s here. He’s playing great, he’s been playing great as of late, and I want him to keep getting him better.”
The young Bulldogs are getting more and more comfortable as a team.
“I feel like every day we grow closer and closer together,” Robinson said. “And that builds our chemistry and our friendship, so if those two things are good, then the team’s just gonna be wonderful.”
The team has dealt with injuries this season and that has forced the Bulldogs to play six freshmen. Robinson and Jarred Hyder have led the youth movement.
“[We’re] playing four or five freshmen at a time at times,” Hutson said. “So they’re all supposed to get better and they are all getting better, and we’re happy and we’re proud of them.”
In high school, Robinson had several big name schools after him: Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville, Arizona State and Georgia Tech. However, he decided Justin Hutson and the Bulldogs were the best fit.
“I felt when I came here, it was more of a family,” Robinson said. “I had a sense of trust when I came here, and I trusted him [Hutson], my coaches trusted him, my parents trusted him and I feel like it was the best decision for me because I trusted him too.”
When asked if Robinson is one of the most talented freshmen he’s had the opportunity to coach, Hutson said, “I don’t compare too much, but yeah he’s gotta be up there.”
Fresno State has already played in some of the toughest arenas this season, not just in the Mountain West, but in all of college basketball. The Bulldogs have already played at The Spectrum, Viejas and The Pit.
A realization for Robinson that he is not in high school anymore.
“It’s a new experience,” he said. “I haven’t really played in atmospheres like that, so coming into college and playing in those atmospheres has really humbled me in a way.”
When Paul George was a freshman at Fresno State, he had six 20-point games. Orlando Robinson is halfway there, with 13 more regular season games left to be played.
When Robinson steps onto the floor every night, he has a certain mindset.
“To just to do my best and to play the sport that I know and love at the best of my ability,” he said. “Because I love it so much and I love to compete.”
The Fresno State men’s basketball team will host undefeated (and 7th-ranked) San Diego State on Tuesday night. Tipoff is set for 8pm at the Save Mart Center. Tickets start as low as $6 through an exclusive ‘Two for Tuesday’ ticket offer (online only, minimum two tickets.) The link to purchase is: GoBulldogs.com/2forTuesday