Walberg promises entertaining basketball as he hopes to revitalize Fresno State

Fresno State basketball has suffered in recent years, ultimately not reaching the heights it did under former head coach Jerry Tarkanian. Vance Walberg hopes to reignite the fan base to support the program like it did decades ago.

Fresno State formally introduced Vance Walberg as the next head coach of the men’s basketball team on Friday. 

Walberg joined University President Saul Jimenez-Sandoval for a press conference on campus and expressed his desire to push Fresno State to the top of the Mountain West. 


Driving the news: Walberg finally gets his dream job leading the Bulldogs after decades of trying, having applied multiple times in the past only to get overlooked until now. 

  • Walberg is the 20th head coach in Fresno State history and is tasked with rebuilding a program that sank in the Mountain West under former coach Justin Hutson. 
  • A local favorite, Walberg joins the university after coaching at Clovis West High School but brings years of collegiate and professional coaching experience with him. 

Passion for the Valley: Jimenez-Sandoval, who spearheaded Walberg’s hire since the university is still without an athletic director after parting ways with Terry Tumey, said he sees two main pillars that characterize Walberg. 

  • “On the one hand he has had an impressive career within the Valley and across the U.S. as well,” Jimenez-Sandoval said. “He’s highly respected as a basketball coach and as a visionary for basketball. That’s one pillar. The second pillar is his passion for Fresno State. It’s his passion for the Valley. It’s his passion for our community, and it’s how he’s going to revolutionize Fresno State basketball from this point on.” 

A high-octane offense: Walberg is famous for inventing the dribble drive offense, which should provide fans with an exciting brand of basketball. 

  • “I really think you’re going to enjoy this style we play,” Walberg said. “It’s going to be fast-paced, pretty good pressure on the ball – just the way I love to play. I think you’re going to really like it. I know previous teams have really liked it. You’re going to see players that are just going to work their tail off. They’re going to have a great work ethic out there. You’re going to be very proud of our student athletes.” 

What we’re watching: The biggest challenge facing Walberg will likely be how he tackles the changing landscape of college athletics, namely dealing with name, image and likeness (NIL) payouts and the transfer portal – two things he did not have to deal with when he was the head coach at Pepperdine from 2006 to 2008. 

  • Walberg acknowledged that teams now have to not only recruit new players to the program every year, but they have to recruit their own players in the hopes of keeping them. 
  • His experience coaching Fresno City College from 2002 to 2006 will come in handy as he compared the current situation to the high turnover of the junior college game. 
  • He also acknowledged that if the coaching staff does its job and elevates the players, Fresno State will lose some of them to schools that can offer a better paycheck through NIL. 
  • “The other key is for me to find players that are here that are hungry. We want to bring them in and get them to this level. It’s going to be that combination. I’ll be honest with you, I work much better with players that really love the game and want to get better. Those are the type of players that I want to have out there.” 

Walberg’s staff: Walberg also announced his coaching staff on Friday, bringing over former Kentucky assistant John Welch, who previously coached on Jerry Tarkanian’s staff at Fresno State. 

  • He is also bringing on Rancho Christian High School Head Coach Ray Barfield and New Mexico State women’s basketball assistant coach Jaren Harris. 
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