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DeManby getting noticed at Fresno State

Travis DeManby has done some of his best work away from the spotlight.

Now, it's his time to shine.

Whether folks are oohing over a steal that would make a pick-pocket proud or aahing over a 3-pointer that's so long it should be piloted, they are noticing his ability and, in some cases, wondering why they don't see more of him.

DeManby is a redshirt sophomore guard on a Fresno State basketball team that is starting to resemble a national power. He hasn't reached star status, but a dogged work ethic has allowed him once again to defy the odds and emerge as the Bulldogs? top reserve.

He's doing a great job — a great job! — for us, gushes Fresno State's venerable coach, Jerry Tarkanian. He's the hardest working guy on the team. He's just playing absolutely great. I couldn't be happier. He's a real competitor.

The former South Medford High standout surprised many when he landed a Division I scholarship. He surprised again when he contributed as a redshirt freshman last season.

Now, DeManby gets 12 to 15 minutes per game, is the team's best 3-point shooter, is among the leaders in steals per minutes played and rarely turns the ball over.

He might not be the most valuable player in the program, but he is the most improved.

I've become a much better player, DeManby says. On defense, on offense, every aspect of the game.

Over the past year, weightlifting has added 20 pounds of muscle to his 6-foot-4 frame, and he now weighs in at 180 pounds. He often meets assistant coach John Welch for defensive and shooting workouts early in the morning. At home in the summer, he spent a lot of time in pick-up games or shooting drills in his old high school gym.

When the Bulldogs met in August to work on conditioning on the school track, DeManby was ahead of the pack in sprinting drills.

Pride has a lot to do with it, he says. That's the way I was raised by my parents and coaches. I definitely would not say I'm the fastest guy on the team, but I didn't want to take any of them off. My goal was to win every single one.

Tarkanian noticed.

His development is all attributed to him, says the coach. He comes to work every day. He doesn't take shortcuts, he plays hurt, he wins all the windsprints, he just works harder.

DeManby began the season getting more minutes than he could have hoped. Point guard Tito Maddox was ineligible for the first eight games, forcing shooting guard Demetrius Porter over to occasionally run the offense.

DeManby averaged close to 20 minutes in that stretch.

That was a big confidence thing, he says. I was shooting the ball really well for the first six or seven games. I'm not getting that many minutes or shot attempts now, but that doesn't matter because my confidence has been so high from the beginning of the year.

DeManby has made 24 of 57 shots from 3-point distance (.421 percent) and 33 of 69 (.478) overall from the field.

He averages 5.9 points per game but has had four double-figure outings, including 15 points in 19 minutes against Norfolk State.

There were a couple of games in which he was particularly impressive.

In the last two minutes of a 70-62 win over San Diego State, DeManby tipped in an offensive rebound and made a long 3-pointer with the shot clock near zero to preserve the win.

Then, on the first weekend of Western Athletic Conference play at Tulsa — — and on his 21st birthday — he made his first three 3-point shots, scored nine points, had three assists and only one turnover in what he called a real solid game. The Bulldogs won, 93-79.

Others have noticed.

The Fresno Bee's John Canzano wrote: They deserve more than this. DeManby and the rainbows he shoots. More playing time. More respect. More applause.

A story on the Bulldogs? Web site similarly praised him.

And even Tarkanian admits that, in many ways, Travis is playing better than Porter, who this week was chosen Western Athletic Conference player of the week.

I figure he has a good chance to be our starting (shooting guard) next year, says Tarkanian. I'll tell you what, nobody deserves it more.

For his part, DeManby says playing time is the least of his worries. He?ll take his minutes as he gets them and, in the meantime, will revel in Fresno State's success.

The Bulldogs are 15-2 and have won 11 straight. They've posted lopsided wins over, among others, Georgia, North Carolina State, TCU, Tulsa and Toledo.

In a way, their success cuts into DeManby's minutes. In blowout wins, Tarkanian doesn't have to look down the bench for a player to provide instant offense.

If we were in that situation, he'd probably go to me, says DeManby. But I'd rather win by double digits. It's a lot easier that way.

He's earned something easy.

Reach sports editor at 776-4479, or e-mail