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The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian
Fresno State men’s basketball Head Coach Vance Walberg at his first media day on April 12.

Vance Walberg

Walberg keeps his roots in the Valley.

The Fresno State men’s basketball team has officially appointed Vance Walberg as the 20th head coach in program history.

“I think those that know me, [know] I hate to lose,” Walberg said at a debut press conference. “I can’t sleep at night thinking about it and all those different things. I want to bring Fresno State basketball to the top of the Mountain West Conference. I want to get us into the playoffs and be successful and I think you know I’m going to do all I can to do that.”

Walberg is taking over a program that went 12-21 last season and 4-14 in conference play, finishing in ninth place in the Mountain West Conference.

At the debut press conference, President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval explained what he was looking for in the next head coach.

“What I saw with the coach was this incredible deep-seated passion and love for our Valley and I saw this thirst and hunger for excellence that he wanted to contribute to Fresno State,” Jiménez-Sandoval said.

Walberg looks to turn around the basketball program with the experience he has under his belt.

He first began his coaching career in the Valley at Clovis West High School, where he stayed from 1998-2002.

During his time at Clovis West, Walberg created the Attack-Attack-Skip-Attack-Attack (AASAA) offense, which then widely became known as the “dribble drive motion.”

“I think [dribble drive] is used because it gives your players the best opportunity for them to showcase what they have,” Walberg said.

From there, he stayed in the town to coach at Fresno City College from 2002 to 2006.

As a Ram, Walberg earned California Community College Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2005, taking his team to win the 2005 state championship.

After his early success, he left his roots for the first time and began coaching at Pepperdine University in 2006.

This was his first go-around in NCAA Division I coaching, but it wasn’t a smooth ride.

“There was stretches throughout my career that were very successful, went down to Pepperdine, not very successful,” Walberg said at the press conference.

Walberg’s overall record at Pepperdine was 8-23. His time there was cut short after he resigned from his position due to family reasons in 2008.

That same year, he became the assistant head coach at the University of Massachusetts, where he spent three seasons.

With Walberg’s continuous climbing in his coaching career, he continued by beginning his NBA coaching career. From 2012-16 he was an associate coach for the Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers and the Sacramento Kings.

In 2016, he returned to where it all began, at Clovis West, coaching for the boy’s varsity basketball team. There, he won an Open Division Central Section title in 2022.

Now, he will continue his journey at Fresno State coaching for the men’s basketball team, where he will be joined by former University of Kentucky Associate Coach John Welch. Welch was introduced as assistant head coach by Walberg at his press conference.

“I’m a big fan of coach Walberg,” Welch said. “I came here because of him and I’m excited to coach alongside him. I believe in his style of play and what he does and I’ve known him forever so I’m excited.”

After a full-circle journey, Walberg remains in the Valley to turn the basketball culture around at Fresno State.

“I want to see the Save Mart arena get to the place to where it’s such a great crowd in there,” Walberg said. “I want to build that Bulldog foundation and I want to get everything that we can from one area of the Valley to the next, and I think that’s what’s going to bring it.”

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About the Contributor
Alexis Bruno
Alexis Bruno, Sports Editor
Alexis Bruno is class of 2025 and the Sports Editor for The Collegian. Alexis has been writing for The Collegian since 2023 and specializes in writing sports. Alexis is an MCJ broadcasting major and wants to pursue a career in sports sideline reporting.
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