Cleveland's Resolve Steadies Course

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    By Stephen Trembley / Fresno State Athletics

    The consistency of Steve Cleveland's mission is rooted in the core of a man with an unwavering conviction that his principled foundation will foster a stronger community.

Cleveland Five years ago, Steve returned to his hometown to serve as the head coach of the Fresno State men's basketball team.  He was charged with creating a culture of academic excellence and compliance while competing for a conference championship.

    To achieve these objectives, Steve developed a philosophy that each step he took would be a building block for the program to be primed for the present and future.

    He calls it "Built to Last," based on the book by James Collins and Jerry I. Porras.  This approach is rooted in the central concept that we each have the ability to leave our society a better place.

    As the Cleveland Era enters its sixth season for the Bulldogs, the culture of the basketball program has been significantly resurrected.

    His basketball program achieved the nation's largest Academic Progress Rate (APR) improvement, recorded the graduation of the most student-athletes in the program's history,
    returned all scholarships and practice time, and cultivated the first Academic All-District honoree (two-time winner Nedeljko Golubovic).


    Paul George with NBA Commish at 2010 NBA DraftIn addition, the building blocks remain in place to compete for a conference title even after Cleveland's program honed the skills of two NBA Draft picks in the past four years - Paul George (the Indiana Pacers' top pick and No. 10 overall in the 2010 NBA Draft) and Dominic McGuire (the 47th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards).  George would have been one of the top contenders for next season's Preseason Player of the Year WAC honor, as McGuire would have been for the 2007-08 season.

    In looking ahead to the 2010-11 season, Cleveland will draw from the depth and athleticism of an exciting roster poised to leave their mark in the Bulldog legacy.  Here are a few notes for Bulldog fans to chew on:

    Greg Smith and Garret Johnson at WAC Tourney--- Greg Smith, the reigning WAC Freshman of the Year, and point guard Steven Shepp will back and stronger as the two returning starters from last year's squad.  Both were newcomers last season and showed their ability to play with anyone throughout the season.  Smith dominated the low post and Shepp displayed his flash, dash and long-range threat as a deep 3-point shooter. Smith and Shepp have each dedicated themselves to the weight room and working out in the gym to prepare for their statement year.

    --- Nedeljko Golubovic, the back-to-back CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District VIII honoree, will provide the senior leadership for the talented Bulldog roster.  As a forward capable of playing every post position, Golubovic can stretch defenses as a 3-point threat.  With two healthy wrists this season, the Red Wave can expect a strong year from Golubovic.

    --- Jerry Brown III and Garrett Johnson, who played sparingly as freshmen last season, have each grown and will be able to earn immediate playing time as contributors from beyond the 3-point arc, mid-range jump shooters, pounding the offensive glass, applying aggressive defensive play and attacking the basket.

    --- As for newcomers, Cleveland has once again restocked his bench, but added even more talent by signing Bracken Funk, Tyler Johnson, Kevin Olekaibe, John Ryan and Tim Steed to join the team next year.  Also, Jonathan Wills, who redshirted last season as a D-1 transfer from New Mexico, will have an opportunity to start on the perimeter.  Each new addition, and there may be more, will provide a unique spark as one of Cleveland's blocks built to last.

    The young men in this program have a single purpose to compete at the highest level for every minute of every game.  The 'Dogs are ready to show their bark and bite through their exceptional gift of playing on this stage.

    The foundation has been set by a man committed to his principles and primed to use the blocks he built to guide his group of young men on the path to a WAC championship and an invitation to the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

    While Fresno State makes their run, the Red Wave will see passion, heart and thrilling moments at every turn.  The growth and development will be on full display this fall as the Bulldogs return to the hardwood with their core vision steady and consistent because Steve Cleveland's resolve is strong and unmatched.

    Stephen Trembley is a staff member for Fresno State Athletics Communications.  He can be reached at

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    1 Comment

    One of my favorite game is basketball and I am very much enjoyed the article wrote about my favorite team also.

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