Feb. 23, 2012
By Stephen Trembley
By Stephen Trembley
FRESNO, Calif. --- Boyd Grant helped galvanize the start of the Red Wave when he coached the Bulldogs from 1977-86, which included guiding Fresno State to the 1983 NIT Championship and three NCAA Tournament appearances.
When first-year Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry heard that Grant was making a visit to Fresno last week, he jumped at the chance to meet the Bulldog legend over lunch with his staff and have him be a part of the team's practice on Thursday.
"I love Fresno State," Grant said. "This place will always have a special place in my heart. It's my job to support the program no matter who is coaching or playing, but I have to say, I am very proud at how hard this team is playing and that's a credit to what Coach Terry and his staff have done."
Grant's teams were known for their defensive tenacity and innovative sets. They also proved that defense is critical to winning championships.
"I firmly believe that defense wins championships," Terry said. "Coach Grant instilled that every day and we are trying to reflect that same mentality that you have to take pride in playing at a high level on both ends of the floor."
Fresno State associate head coach Jerry Wainwright also expressed his admiration and respect for Grant before the legend spoke to the team following the 'Dogs afternoon film session. Wainwright was a Division I head coach for 16 seasons and took his teams to seven postseason tournaments, including three NCAA berths and four NIT appearances at his previous coaching stops.
"Coach Grant is one of the under-the-radar defensive geniuses in our game," Wainwright said. "When I was just getting into coaching, I used to write to Coach Grant about his defensive sets and he would always write back. I have such an appreciation for what he has done for our game and the impact he left here at Fresno State. For our guys to be able to hear from someone like him is invaluable."
Grant currently resides in Pocatello, Idaho, but his affinity for his former schools is as strong as it has ever been.
"Whenever Fresno State or Colorado State [Grant's alma mater] are on television, I watch," Grant said. "That number 3 [Kevin Olekaibe] can really shoot the ball. I saw one of his games where he just went off and couldn't miss."
Grant also shared a few words of advice and perspective for Terry and the team.
"You can always control your effort," Grant noted. "We didn't always have the most talented team, but we worked hard and everything we did was team-oriented. And don't be afraid to dream big."
Those last two words really stuck with Terry.
"You have to dream big," Terry said. "That's what I took away most from Coach Grant. He was able to do some really special things here and we want to achieve the same things that he did. Our focus will always be on our next game, but our goals and expectations are to win championships and play in the postseason. That will never change for us. There's a lot of basketball still to be played this season."
"We Are Your Team!" --- Fresno State returns to the Save Mart Center on Thursday night to face Seattle University and begin a four-game homestand. The `Dogs then close the regular season by hosting Nevada (Feb. 25), Louisiana Tech (March 1) and New Mexico State (March 3). The games against Nevada and New Mexico State will feature a special $21 single-game ticket package that also includes a hot dog and medium soda. You can listen to the 'Dogs all season on the radio dial at KMJ 580 AM and make sure to follow @RodneyTerry on Twitter for updates direct from the head coach.
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