Monday, December 29, 2008

C.J. Webster is the WAC Player of the Week

WAC Men's Basketball Player of the Week Announced
Courtesy: WAC

DENVER – San Jose State’s C.J. Webster has been named the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Dec. 22-28. The honor marks the second career WAC Player of the Week award for Webster.

Webster, a junior from Missouri City, Texas (Texas State), helped the Spartans to a 2-1 record last week with wins over San Francisco and William Jessup. Webster scored a season-high 20 points and pulled down a game-high eight rebounds in SJSU’s 82-76 win over San Francisco. He contributed 15 points with five rebounds against Saint Mary’s while shooting 70 percent (7-of-10) from the field. Webster registered a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds in an 82-61 win over William Jessup. Webster was named to the Shamrock Office Solutions Classic all-tournament team for his efforts against Saint Mary’s and William Jessup.

On the week, Webster averaged 16.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He shot 64.7 percent from the field (22-of-34) and 50 percent from the charity stripe (6-of-12).

A Marquin Chandler update

Caught this in the Philippine Star newspaper about Marquin Chandler, currently with the KT&G Kites in South Korea:

"...James Yap, the Purefoods 2006 MVP winner said they will redeem themselves in the import-laden tourney where the team intends to bring back Marquin Chandler.

[Purefoods Coach Ryan] Gregorio has had an initial talk with the former one-time Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Best Import awardee, currently playing in Korea.

Chandler, who starred for the San Jose Spartans in the US NCAA, has played two conferences as a Purefoods import, leading the team to a runner-up finish behind Red Bull in 2006..."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

San Jose State in an easy 82-61 win over William Jessup

It was as we expected: go inside, then repeat, repeat, repeat...

The game opened with a C.J. Webster putback of his own shot beginning the scoring. Chris Oakes then made one of two free throws. A Justin Graham pass to Webster led to another basket. Graham to Oakes resulted in a basket and foul call leading to an add-on free throw. Then it was another Webster putback and the Spartans were ahead 10-3.

It was 14-5 with 15:41 remaining.

At the 11:42 mark, San Jose State led 22-11 with Webster and Oakes each having 10 points.

With six minutes on the clock, Oakes already had a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds.

At the half, the score was 45-29 and effectively over for all intents and purposes.

Three Spartans achieved double-doubles: Oakes put up 18 points and 17 rebounds, Tim Pierce 21 points and 15 boards and Webster 15/10. Justin Graham collected seven assists.

Adrian Oliver started and played 11 minutes albeit with a sore knee but sat out the latter part of the first half and all of the second 20 minutes.

Next comes Louisiana Tech to Walt McPherson Court on Saturday, January 3, 5:30 pm.

Another measurement tool

Read the following account of the SJSU - St. Mary's game and let's see if your blood pressure spikes around the end of the second paragraph:

Gaels stay hot against Spartans
Henry Schulman, Chronicle Staff Writer
December 28, 2008

St. Mary's was in danger of falling into a big pit on its home court Saturday night before Diamon Simpson hit a barrage of shots to help turn a nine-point deficit into a halftime tie. In a timeout just before the run, the Gaels had a reality check.

"It was mainly about energy," Simpson said. "We kind of came out flat. It was just, 'Let's go. We're down to San Jose State.' I'm not saying they're a bad team, it's just that ..."

Then he smiled, recognizing there was no way he really could backtrack from what sounded like a slight. The Spartans must be used to that by now, for they have had some rough years. But in putting up a fight in an 87-78 Gaels victory, the South Bay school demonstrated it is nobody's doormat. The Spartans dropped a lot of points on the Gaels and outrebounded them 35-33.

"I didn't like our defensive numbers and I didn't like our rebounding numbers, and that's what we hang our hat on," St. Mary's head coach Randy Bennett said after his team improved to 11-1 with its eighth straight win, in the first round of the Shamrock Office Solutions Classic.

"But they're a pretty good team," Bennett said of the Spartans. "We got down by nine (31-22), and to come back to win by nine we did a great job not panicking. We were inconsistent, but at times we were good. We were good for 25 minutes. We've got to be better..."

No, this is not an attempt to be knee-jerkish or to make something of insignificance into one of importance. Simpson obviously believes his team to be far superior to the Spartans and that they had no reason to be down to San Jose State at any point in the game.

We say, so be it.

Here's why, some historical context to better make sense of Simpson's take.

Diamon Simpson came out of Hayward High in 2004-2005. He was all set to go to Fresno State, having agreed to sign with Bulldog Coach Ray Lopes. Then, Lopes got canned and Simpson became a free agent. (As an aside, Gael center Omar Samhan originally committed to USF before a battle between the head basketball coach and the AD resulted in Samhan not being admitted to The Hilltop -- where would St. Mary's be without this pair? Sometime circumstances out of our control do indeed play a role in our success) Simpson then landed in Moraga with Randy Bennett and St. Mary's and the rest is known as he has turned into a very good college baller.

This 'history' is meant to demonstrate a couple of factors circa 2004-2005:

(1) Simpson didn't have San Jose State as a school of his interest then for very obvious reasons -- men's basketball was a disaster area

(2) The Spartan men's basketball program wasn't registering then as one to be considered at that point in time by most if not all area prepsters -- again for very obvious reasons

That's the perspective Diamon Simpson has of SJSU, that of the time he was looking at various colleges.

Consider the contents of this entire post another measurement tool, one that indicates the advancement of Spartan hoops. A coaching change took place in 2005 and now look at the number of 'locals/regionals' currently populating the SJSU roster -- Oliver, Graham, Oakes, Pierce...well, you get the idea.

Of course, when St. Mary's next comes to play at Walt McPherson Court minus the senior-this-year Simpson and Patty Mills (probably headed to the NBA although he needs to first demonstrate greater consistency in the college ranks in our humble opinion) then the 'tables' will be dramatically rearranged and Simpson probably won't believe his eyes when he reads the game writeup.

Spartans face William Jessup today

It's the William Jessup Warriors mind you, a school relatively new to Rocklin (former 49er training camp locale) but originally situated in the South Bay as San Jose Christian College. The Warriors are an NAIA member.

In last night's matchup with Morgan State, Jermaine Bolden hit a 17-footer from the baseline as the final buzzer sounded and Morgan State held off William Jessup 70-68. Lucas Birchard led the Warriors with 22 points, aided by Zach Bowers' team-leading eight boards and 20 points. WJ shot 44% for the game.


Coach Aaron Muhic brings over thirteen years of college basketball coaching experience to the Warriors. He has coached ten All-Americans during his time at William Jessup University and two academic All-Americans.

The past two seasons the Warriors were ranked briefly in the top 20 nationally and this past season losing in the conference finals, one game short of the national tournament. In total, he has a been a part of over 114 wins as a Warrior and counting.


Nov 1 @ Oregon Institute of Technology L, 46-92
Nov 7 @ West Coast Baptist College W, 84-65
Nov 8 @ The Master's College L, 80-85
Nov 13 West Coast Baptist College W, 74-45
Nov 14 NW Christian L, 73-75
Nov 15 Concordia (OR) L, 68-70
Nov 20 @ CSU Stanislaus L, 79-95
Nov 24 @ Humboldt State University L, 78-94
Nov 29 @ Fresno Pacific University L, 63-88
Dec 5 @ Golden State Baptist College W, 76-55
Dec 6 Bendigo W, 89-69
Dec 11 @ Menlo College W, 68-52
Dec 18 @ Simpson University W, 89-63
Dec 20 @ CSU-East Bay L, 83-102


6-5 Zach Sowers
-- leads the Warriors with a 19.5 ppg. average and is shooting 50% overall but an even better 57% from three-point range, second on the squad in rebounding at 6.1 a contest

6-6 Lucas Birchard -- is second on the team in scoring at 12.2 ppg. and first on the boards with almost six and a half (6.4)

6-5 Tyler Leuning -- averages 4.1 ppg. and 4.2 rpg.

6-4 Alex Dimontsantos -- averages 8.6 ppg. and 3.7 rpg.

5-10 Austin Nelson -- averages 4.5 ppg. and 3.4. rpg. but is shooting in the low 30s


Jeremy Devers 5-9 guard freshman
Jason Washington 6-0 guard junior
Matt Walker 6-0 guard freshman
Tevin Hurd 6-6 Wing freshman
Marques Rodriguez 6-3 wing freshman
Zach Sowers 6-3 guard senior
Kadeem Kirsten 6-3 guard sophomore
Blaize Boles 6-2 guard sophomore
Austin Nelson 5-10 guard freshman
Tyler Leuning 6-5 wing senior
Lucas Birchard 6-6 wing senior
Alex Dimotsantos 6-4 wing senior
Matt Cassell 6-7 post junior


A power game inside should take care of William Jessup but the Spartans need to take the Warriors more seriously than Morgan State obviously did.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Spartans fall 87-78 to St. Mary's

Either someone woke up Patty Mills about 8:30 Saturday night or that's just when he rolls because the Australian sophomore went 'en fuego' at the beginning of the second half and provided a second half separation for St. Mary's that San Jose State never could close.

St. Mary's won 87-78.

Adrian Oliver led SJSU with 22 points, 20 in the second half. C.J. Webster contributed 15.

Omar Samhan led the Gaels with 21 points, Diamon Simpson had 20 and a team-leading 13 rebounds. Mills finished with 17 points but 14 came after intermission, most of those early on.

It was a blitzkrieg 13-2 run after halftime -- 10 courtesy of Mills -- that stretched the Gael lead to 49-38 and San Jose State couldn't recover. An Adrian Oliver three-point play cut the lead to five at one point but that's the closest the Spartans could get.

But the Gael bigs -- Samhan and Simpson -- were just as important. Samhan got many close-in shots of his choosing and Simpson was a major factor on the boards, especially offensively.

Trips to the foul line was integral. St. Mary's went 24-33 on the night to SJSU's 12-16.

San Jose State was the better team on the boards in the first half but that role switched in the second 20 minutes. The Gael-caused foul trouble for Webster and Chris Oakes limited their respective productivity.

The Spartans shot very well -- 52% for the game (32-62) -- plus out-boarded the Gaels overall, 35-33. San Jose State committed 18 turnovers.

Opening Half

St. Mary's jumped out quickly, leading 11-5 at the 15:26 mark of the opening half. The Gaels went 5-11 from the floor early on and nabbed four steals. The Spartans shot 2-7 in that first five minutes.

But the score was tied at 14 on a Tim Pierce trey (assist by Justin Graham).

SJSU took its first lead at 20-18 on a Devonte Thomas putback. It stretched to three, 23-20, on a Mac Peterson three-pointer.

The score was 36 apiece at the half.

Webster had 11 points to lead the Spartans, Tim Pierce added eight plus seven rebounds. San Jose State shot 52% from the floor. Both Mills and Oliver missed time in the initial 20 minutes due to foul trouble.

It's a Spartan match with William Jessup tomorrow afternoon. The Warriors played Morgan State very tough but fell at the very end in an earlier game.

Friday, December 26, 2008

San Jose State faces St. Mary's in Moraga Saturday

Let's hope the bells of St. Mary's are indeed ringing Saturday night but playing a dirge as such would be fitting after San Jose State travels up to Moraga for a men's basketball game and hopefully notches a win. Beating the Gaels would be the signature win for the WAC so far this season.

It's part of the Shamrock Office Solutions Classic scheduled for December 27 & 28. As mentioned, the game on the 27th (Saturday) is against West Coast Conference power St. Mary's, er, make that the 10-1 Gaels.

The opponent the next day is either William Jessup or Morgan State. Yes, Todd Bozeman's Morgan State Bears. The former Cal coach is in his third year and coming off being named 2008 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.

Isn't it hard to believe that Randy Bennett has already been at St. Mary's for eight seasons. It's also difficult to understand why he is still there, what with the wooing he received from Oregon State this past off-season and to some degree from Cal plus that in previous off-seasons. Here more on Bennett:

BENNETT'S BIO (from the St. Mary's site)

The 2008 Co-West Coast Conference Coach of the Year, Randy Bennett, took over as the head men
basketball coach prior to the 2001-02 season ... He has become the school’s all-time wins leader with 127 coaching victories and is the only coach in the 100-years of the program to lead two teams to the NCAA Tournament ... The 2007-08 season marked a memorable year for Saint Mary’s as Bennett guided the team to a record tying 25 wins with a 25-7 overall record. The Gaels were ranked in the top-25 in both the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll and the Associated Press Polls for numerous weeks ... Over the past five seasons, Bennett has guided the Gaels to 103 total wins, averaging 20.3 wins per season, and from 2003-08, SMC has posted more wins than any other five-year stretch in school history ... In the last five years SMC has a 63-15 (.807) in McKeon Pavilion, which includes a 15-1 mark at home during the 2007-08 season.


11.14.08 Seattle Pacific W 86-55
11.17.08 Fresno State W 99-85
11.23.08 Vanguard W 86-54
11.27.08 UTEP L 62-75 (in Anaheim)
11.28.08 CS Fullerton W 79-54 (in Anaheim)
11.30.08 Providence W 81-75 (in Anahein)
12.04.08 at Kent State W 75-69
12.13.08 San Diego State W 67-64 (in Anahein)
12.17.08 at Oregon W 78-73
12.20.08 Southern Illinois W 65-52 (in Indianapolis)
12/23/08 at Pacific W 74-65


Omar Samhan C 6-11 junior 14.4 ppg., 10.0 rpg.
Diamon Simpson F 6-7 senior 11.9 ppg., 12.0 rpg.
Ian O’Leary F 6-7 senior 4.5 ppg., 3.7 rpg.
Carlin Hughes G 6-2 senior 8.9 ppg., 1.6 rpg., 3.6 apg.
Patrick (Patty) Mills G 6-0 sophomore 19.9 ppg., 2.7 rpg., 3.7 apg.

Does any other D-1 squad have two starters in the backcourt hailing from Australia?

Samhan -- Samhan was initally set to play for USF but the tug-of-war there between the basketball coach and the AD submarined that deal. Overlooked by a number of teams in his recruitment, he has developed into a solid scorer and rebounder, aided by a dramatic reduction in his weight. He has also cut his hair this season -- the flowing locks replaced by a buzz cut. Samhan earned All-WCC honorable mention honors last season -- currently,he's averaging a double-double, is shooting 57% from the floor and has blocked 21 shots. 36 of his 110 rebounds have come at the offensive end so blocking him out is a requirement.

Simpson -- He was all set to play for Fresno State before Ray Lopes was let go there and ended up in the lap of St. Mary's. The all-time leader in blocked shots for the Gaels, Simpson was awarded with First Team All-WCC honors as well as being named the WCC Defensive Player of the Year in 2007-2008. He is shooting 43% from the floor to date and grabbing an amazing 12 boards a contest. Simpson generally produces a couple of spectacular plays a game, whether it be a dunk or a shotblock and that gets the Gael fans roaring.

O'Leary -- We thought he would be more of a scorer than has turned out in college but it seems he has sibmerged part of his game so as to play a different role for the Gaels than initially expected. His 22% shooting from long range isn't indicative of his true ability -- he's at 46% overall.

Hughes -- He came to St. Mary's after two seasons at Montana State - Billings, Best known as a shooter, his numbers aren't indicating such so far this season -- Hughes is at 40% on the season, 34% from three-point range. But he is producing 3.6 assists a game with the best-on-the-team 41-21 assist-to-turnover numbers.

Mills -- Even with the longstanding question of how long Bennett will call Moraga home, Mills gets even more queries about when will it be his turn to head to the NBA. Feeding that even further, he enjoyed some great games representing Australia during the Olympics. The WCC Newcomer of the Year and a first-team selection, Mills is a points producer. He's still in need of work on his situational shot selection but he leads St. Mary's at a nudge below 20 points per game. He is at 41% with his overall shooting and just 32% on his try attempts. He is also tops in assists and steals for the Gaels. What sets Mills apart is his speed with ball -- there's very few who can keep in front of him all through a game.


Carlin Hughes G 6-2 185 Sr.(Australia)
Ian O'Leary F 6-7 220 Sr.
Yusef Smith F 6-8 225 Sr.
Clint Steindl F 6-7 180 Fr.(Australia)
Lucas WalkerF 6-8 225 Sr. (Australia)
Patrick Mills G 6-0 175 So. (Australia)
Diamon Simpson F 6-7 230 Sr.
Ben Allen C 6-11 250 Jr. (Australia)
Collin Chiverton G 6-5 200 Fr.
Trey Anderson G 6-4 175 Fr.
Wayne Hunter G 6-4 210 Jr.
Mickey McConnell G 6-0 175 So.
Tim Williams F 6-9 235 Fr.
Phil Benson F 6-8 230 So.
Omar Samhan C 6-11 265 Jr.

Hunter -- He is earning 20 minutes of playing time a game but hasn't shot well this season.

McConnell -- We say he isn't 6-0 regardless of the official stats but he comes from a basketball coaching family -- father and grandfather -- and is performing well as a ballhandler in just under 18 minutes a contest. He is shooting 43% for the season as well as from long range.


*** St. Mary's is shooting 43% on the season while holding opponents to 39% -- the Gaels finished at 46% last year

*** On threes, the Gaels are at 31% to 30% for opposing teams

*** Bennett's team has a +80 rebounding advantage, 473 to 393.

*** Note the total of five players from Down Under on the roster -- plus, Randy Bennett just signed three more Australians in the November signing period.

*** St. Mary's and the West Coast Conference just entered into a very strategic with ESPN. Here's the announcement:

"The West Coast Conference (WCC) recently launched one of its most monumental strategic television initiatives. With partner ESPN, the WCC spearheaded an international television package that would broadcast a total of 23 men's basketball games on ESPN Australia, ESPN HD Australia, and ESPN Pacific Rim, and ESPN New Zealand. This is the first time that the WCC television schedule has ever extended beyond North America ... All eight WCC men's basketball programs will be a part of the 23-game package, including 16 appearances by Saint Mary's and 2008 Australian Olympian Patty Mills. Saint Mary’s has five players on its 2008-09 roster from Australia, and will welcome three additions to its roster for the 2009-10 campaign."


Saturday night will be the debut of Oliver Adrian for the Spartans -- he's the twin brother of you-know-who. Don't we wish Santa was that good to the Spartans this Christmas? Do get yourself up to Moraga Saturday and Sunday and cheer on the Spartans.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Yo Adrian!

We are surely not the first and probably won't be the last but here's to San Jose State's newest basketball player with the inevitable: "Yo, Adrian!"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Aalim Moor's diary -- first installment

(very top photo is Aalim holding trophies for his selection to the Scattini All-Tournament team and for St. Mary's winning the event -- second photo is of Aalim shooting a jumper during the tourney)

Aalim Moor III is one of the three high school seniors who signed with Coach Nessman and San Jose State in November. Aalim attends St. Mary's High School in Berkeley and plays the point for Coach Manny Nodar. Here is his initial diary entry:

Well my senior year is officially here and the hype is in full effect. I signed my N. L.O.I. to attend San Jose State University, appeared in ESPN's Rise Magazine, was selected by Rivals as one of the“Top Dogs” and the top point guard coming into the WAC in the recruiting class of 2009, and our team got ranked by the San Francisco Chronicle as the #3 team in the Bay Area. That was all really cool. After all that being said, it’s time to get past all that hype and get down to business.

Coming into the season, I have big expectations for my team and myself after last year’s 33-2 record and getting to the state championship game.

The season started off with me having two great back-to-back games. Galileo was our first game and we handled them pretty easily winning by 27 points. I had 13 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and a two-handed dunk in limited minutes because of the amount we were winning by.

The next game was against a good but young Bishop O’Dowd team in front of a sold-out crowd at St. Mary’s. The atmosphere was electric and I was extremely fired up! We were at full strength and played hard, we were determined to prove that we were the better team. The whole game was close until 1:15 in the 4th when I hit a three-pointer at the end of the shot clock and a fast break dunk from Dominique Lee. We won the game by a score of 64-57. I had 19 points. 6 assists and 5 rebounds.

Our next test was against a very big and physical Sheldon team from Sacramento. We came out to a slow start but picked it up going into halftime. After a buzzer-beating 3 pointer I hit from a couple steps in front of half court, we went up 43 to 39. We came out the second half and went on a 8-0 run extending the lead to 12 with about 6 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Sheldon cut the lead to 3 going into the 4th. The game went back and forth until Sheldon began to pull away late in the 4th. We ended up losing our first game 62-57. I had 13 points. 4 assists 4 rebounds and 3 turnovers. I really needed to play harder and rebound more this game.

The next 3 games were all down to the wire. First we played a big Miramonte team. I think we as a team underestimated this game and just scratched it off as an easy win. We went back and forth and I ended up fouling out with 1:02 left in the game but my team showed maturity and ended up pulling out the win 77-74.

Our next two games would be without one of our captains and best players Chris Brew because of a bad groin injury. We played Sacred Heart next and their best player and fellow future WAC player (Fresno State), Jerry Brown. We came out very slow and went down 12 to 2. But one of our best qualities is our willingness to stay with our system. We cut the lead and went into halftime up two. We then came out and showed why we are ranked where we are and why we get the love and respect we do. We won the game 62 to 59.

Castlemont was the next game. This was a homecoming for me because if I had gone to public school in Oakland that would be the school I should have attended. Again we came out slow early and picked it up later. The game was close but the last 3 plays decided the game. With about 1:13 left in the game, I hit a three pointer, next came a backdoor lay-up from Dominique, and finally a putback lay-up from me ended it. We won 51 to 46.

These were great wins for our confidence as a team especially with Chris being out. I averaged 12 points. 5 assists. and 4 rebounds over these three games.

Our next games were in the Scattini Tournament in Salinas, California, hosted by Palma High School. Our first game was against Archbishop Mitty. It was an ugly game filled with a lot of turnovers and bad plays by both teams but we ended up pulling away winning 56 to 47.

The next two games we got back to playing Panther basketball -- running up and down the court, pressuring the ball and making sure we didn’t take any plays off. Our coaches were extremely pleased with our effort and really let us know during timeouts by encouraging and having fun with us. My primary focus during this tournament was (obviously) winning and my secondary focus was really concentrating on my defense. My uncle (William Brew) has really been giving me some good information and been in my ear about that aspect of the game. Being a lock down defender is really important to me and I'm working hard on trying to take that part of my game to the next level. I was named to the All Tournament Team along with my teammates Dominique Lee (Jr.), Glenn Baral (Fr.) and Chris Brew was named MVP.

We are 7-1 and looking to go into this week’s game against Justin-Sienna with a lot of focus on the little things.

I will write again soon.

Aalim Moor, III

More Aalim Moor photos

Here are three additional photos. The first is the St. Mary's team after winning the Scattini Tournament at Palma High -- Aalim is holding the trophy in the center of the picture. The second is Aalim defending the ball and the third photo is Aalim handling the ball.

Monday, December 22, 2008

San Jose State wins 82-76

What do San Jose State basketball and Tina Turner have in common?

The fact that they never, ever do anything nice and easy. Whether it be hoops at Walt McPherson Court or singing "Proud Mary" -- 'easy does it' is a term with no use.

For the second game in a row, the Spartans had the opportunity to break a game wide open...but didn't. To USF's credit, the Dons kept fighting and made it a very close game, one decided in the last minute or so, finally ending with an 82-76 score and SJSU with another victory.

Adrian Oliver was again a force tonight, scoring 31 points in 36 minutes of play. C.J. Webster was a beast inside totaling 20 points and garnering 8 boards. Tim Pierce added 16.

USF Coach Rex Walters needs another recruiting class or two in order to have his squad challenge for the top of the West Coast Conference as his young-ish squad often presented an offense the equivalent of baseball's Spahn and Sain and pray for rain. Big man Dior Lowhorn finished with 21 points (20 shots) and freshman Kwame Vaughn topped the Dons with 22 on 8-12 from the floor including 3-4 on his threes. Vaughn also grabbed six rebounds. Backcourter Manny Quezada contributed 14 points but didn't seem to score when the game really mattered.

Two technical fouls on Walters with 40 seconds remaining hurt the USF cause. We didn't see what behavior brought on the Ts but Walters was reacting to a situation where one of his players penetrated into the key and ended up being called for traveling after a SJSU player got his hand on the ball. In hindsight, we thought it should have been a jump ball but we believe San Jose State had the possession arrow at the time.

But it shouldn't have come to such a tight game. San Jose State led 51-37 at the 14:56 mark after an early Don spurt was countered. It was 55-39 with 14:34 remaining after a Webster jumper. 9:54 was left after a Deshawn Wright jumper made it 59-44. But Spartan turnovers and missed shots, combined with Don steals and a burst of hot USF shooting drew the game closer. A Vaughn layup cut the lead to three -- 73-70 -- with 1:26 on the clock.

San Jose State shot 49% for the game but just 4-17 from long range. The number of free throws attempted was excellent (32) but nailing the charity tosses tailed off from Saturday as the Spartans made 20 but missed 12.

It was a game SJSU led from the beginning. A Webster layup, an Oliver 12-foot jumper and Pierce's steal and resulting slam put San Jose State up 6-0 with 17:39 left in the initial half. The Spartans had leads from seven to 11 points in the second ten minutes of the first 20 and led 40-30 at the half. At that point, Webster had 13 points, Adrian Oliver 11 and Justin Graham five assists. The offensive play was crisp and the player spacing solid. Lowhorn led San Francisco with 15 points but took 14 shots to reach that total and nabbed but one rebound.

NOTES -- Credit Justin Graham for taking two charges ... USF needs another 'big' as it was two Spartans against a lone Don in the paint most of the night ... The freshman Vaughn was obviously impressive but another frosh, Angelo Caloiaro out of Mitty High, displayed a calmness and a display of fundamental play unlike most first-year players ... We just about fell out of our seat tonight after the PA announcer told the crowd that the Mercury News is a proud sponsor of SJSU athletics. Don't get us started, again.

Fun, fun, fun

Man was it fun at the Civic Auditorium Saturday afternoon. There was the anticipation throughout the crowd of finally seeing Adrian Oliver and boy did he ever deliver, especially in the framework of how long it has been since he actually has played in a game.

The best yell directed at the referees that we heard was on one of Adrian Oliver's drives to the hoop where, if memory serves us right, he was called for a charge. Someone behind us offered "you don't know how to ref with good players."

With Tim dialed in from outside and Justin and Adrian creating, Saturday was simply the most enjoyable game of the so far season. The ball movement was extraordinary at times, what with reversals especially to the left resulting in a number of layups and short shots in the first half.

Trying to guard TimP with a 6-footer backfired for Northern Colorado as it gave him far too many good looks at the basket.

One bit of caution though: we still want to see less TOs, especially those that aren't necessarily forced by the opponents.

Plus, we're hoping Oliver Caballero gets healthy as another big body would be helpful in the rotation of the bigs, especially come WAC play.

Oh yes, just what is Truth/CruzanKid/what-name-will-it-be-next going to spout now that Adrian Oliver has joined the long list of people who have forced "Mr. I Will Say Anything For Attention" to taste his own shoe leather yet again? Oh, it will probably be a George Bush-like 180 double tuck twist rotation reversal along the lines of "Remember, I told you how good Oliver was going to be!" Yes, 'out there' indeed.

Let's see what happens tonight against USF, with the Dons presenting quite the different matchup. If San Francisco brings its 'A' game, then it will certainly be a tussle as they have already beaten WAC members Hawaii and Boise State on the road.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's USF at Walt McPherson Court Monday night

USF remains in the midst of a make-over in men's basketball and is heading in an upward direction. A culture change was sorely needed as 2007-2008 was lowlighted with Jesse Evans' dismissal in the middle of last season as the culmination of a brutal clash with his AD. Eddie Sutton then came aboard as an interim head coach to finish out the schedule. Let's just say the season was circus-like and best forgotten. Hopefully, the kids in the program are now receiving the experience they deserve and no longer pawns in any sort of fray.

THE USF HEAD COACH (courtesy of USF athletics)

Coach Rex Walters comes to USF from Florida Atlantic University. In his first season at the helm, Walters guided Florida Atlantic to its second consecutive winning season. It was the first time the program posted back-to-back winning campaigns since 1989 to 1992.

In 2006-07, the Owls won 10 Sun Belt Conference games, the third-most for a first-year Sun Belt member. The team also set a program scoring record, averaging 74.9 points per game. Two of Walters' players were named Second Team All-Sun Belt. The Owls were 15-18 and 8-10 in Sun Belt Conference play in 2007-08.

Prior to Florida Atlantic, Walters' first collegiate coaching job came at Valparaiso, a two-year stint as an assistant under Homer Drew. The 2003-04 Hornets were 18-13 overall and advanced to the NCAA Tournament after capturing the Mid-Continent Conference with a record of 11-5...

...Walters first made his name known in college, starring for two seasons at Kansas. In 68 starts under Roy Williams, he averaged 15.6 points per game, leading the Jayhawks in scoring during both his junior and senior campaigns.

KU combined to go 56-12 overall in 1991-92 and 1992-93, winning back-to-back Big Eight titles, capped by a trip to the 1993 Final Four. Walters was named to the All-Big Eight team both seasons and was Big Eight Male Athlete of the Year as a senior in 1993...

...After graduating from Kansas in 1993 with a B.S. in education, Walters was selected by New Jersey as the 16th overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft. He went on to play seven seasons in total with the Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat, averaging 4.6 points and 1.7 assists per game in 13.7 minutes.

Walters averaged a career-best 6.8 points per game for Philadelphia in 1996-97, and made 67 career starts in 335 games. His career assist-to-turnover ratio was nearly two-to-one. He was New Jersey's top three-point shooter in 1994-95 (36.2%) and Philadelphia's top long-range marksman in 1996-97 (38.5%). A fierce competitor, Walters averaged 12.8 points and 7.3 assists per game in eight starts for the 76ers to end the 1995-96 season.

Walters' professional career spanned nine seasons in total, ending in 2002 after playing internationally for two years and winning an American Basketball Association title with the Kansas City Knights.

(Our note: we would be remiss not to mention that one of Walters' children is named Gunner. That seems pretty cool).


USF's season highlights include a win on the road against BSU: "Junior forward Dior Lowhorn scored a game-high 20 points and freshman guard Kwame Vaughn added a career-high 18 leading USF to a 79-76 triumph against Boise State Saturday night in non-conference action at Boise's Taco Bell Arena...USF shot .519 (27-52) from the field, including a remarkable season-best .650 (13-20) from 3-point range. After being abused on the boards in its last contest at Pacific, the Dons won the battle of the boards 30-26 against the defending WAC Champions."

And this also counts -- another road victory again against a WAC team: "USF overcame a slow start and held off a furious late Hawaii rally to seize a 75-70 victory at the Stan Sheriff Center...Junior forward Blake Wallace dazzled in his San Francisco debut, scoring a game-high 21 points on 7-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc to go along with seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Junior forward Dior Lowhorn added 16 points and four rebounds despite playing just four minutes in the first half after picking up his second personal foul."

But this one won't be so fondly remembered: "USF began its five-game December road trip with a 66-60 loss to Pacific Tuesday night in non-conference action at the Spanos Center. The Dons (6-4) shot the ball much better than the Tigers (4-3), but were out-rebounded 39-17 as Pacific claimed its fourth consecutive win in the series. Junior forward Blake Wallace and senior guard Manny Quezada were the only Dons in double-digit scoring with 11 points apiece. Freshman guard Kwame Vaughn chipped in nine points and four assists, while forward Angelo Caloiaro added nine - all in the first half - with three assists. San Francisco shot at a .523 (23-44) pace from the field and limited Pacific to .449 (22-49), but the Tigers dominated on the boards. Pacific ripped down 16 offensive rebounds, while the Dons managed just two. The Tigers scored 14 points on second chance opportunities."

Nor this one: "San Francisco had a miserable shooting night and dropped a 61-40 decision to Cal Poly. San Francisco shot a dismal .246 (15-61) from the field, including a dreadful .050 (1-20) mark from 3-point distance. Junior forward Dior Lowhorn was the lone bright spot for the Dons with a game-high 21 points with nine rebounds."

This contest probably falls somewhere in between: "Dior Lowhorn scored a team-high 23 points, leading four USF players in double-digit scoring, but USC held on for a 74-69 non-conference decision Monday night at the Galen Center. In the 20th overall meeting between the two teams and the first since 1971, the Dons fell just short against the Trojans. Blake Wallace and Kwame Vaughn added 13 points each. "

Here's the full USFschedule to date:

11/14/08 at Hawai'i W, 75-70
11/16/08 vs. Texas State W, 88-74
11/18/08 at California L, 87-74
11/21/08 vs. Academy of Art W, 74-23
11/24/08 vs. UC Santa Barbara W, 73-72
11/29/08 vs. Colorado State W, 65-63
12/01/08 at USC L, 74-69
12/03/08 at Cal Poly L, 61-40
12/06/08 vs. Long Beach State W, 78-74 (2OT)
12/09/08 at Pacific L, 66-60
12/13/08 at Boise State W, 79-76


Blake Wallace
6-6 JR 10.6 ppg., 5.0 rpg.
Angelo Caloiaro 6-7 FR 6.0 ppg., 3.2 rpg.
Dior Lowhorn 6-7 JR 19.8 ppg., 6.2 rpg.
Dontae Bryant 6-2 JR 5.2 ppg., 2.5 rpg., 3.5 apg.
Kwame Vaughn 6-3 FR 11.2 ppg., 3.5 apg.

Notice the two freshman -- it is also a lineup with four new starters.

Lowhorn -- Dior is out of the East Bay and spent a year at Texas Tech (Bob Knight) before leaving Lubbock. He is a beast inside, strong and athletic. Containing or countering him will be one key to success for SJSU. Lowhorn is shooting .485% overall and a remarkable .552% (16-29) on his threes -- this despite him not having a rep for distance shooting. He's put up twice as many shots as any other Don so CJ Webster and Chris Oakes will have a challenge on their hands. 27 of Lowhorn's 68 rebounds are at the offensive end so blocking out will be a necessity, both after he takes a shot and when his teammates do. He's chalked up but seven assists in 11 games so the ball either isn't coming back out very often or his teammates aren't shooting proficiently when he kicks it out.

Wallace - A starter in all 11 games, he is shooting .462% for the season and .362% from three-point range. His 47 three-point attempts leads USF, his 20 free throws are the lowest total of all the major minutes players -- hence it appears he is typically playing some distance from the basket. He's rebounding at a 5.0 clip per game and his 43 defensive boards leads the team. Wallace's 14/14 assist-to-turnover ratio also indicates someone playing away from the hoop and not creating opportunities for teammates but also not making errors.

Caloiaro - He's a fundamentally sound frosh who is getting his proverbial feet wet as the fourth or fifth option in the offense. He's shooting .491% to date but also been awrded just five free throws this season. His 21/11 assist-to-turnover numbers indicate he knows what to do and what to look for offensively -- that it's a matter of getting stronger and gaining experience.

Bryant - Much more of a passer than a scorer, Bryant was brought in from the Arizona junior college ranks to steady the team. His shooting has been adequate so far but it's running the offense and playing 'D' where he does best. He leads the Dons with 12 steals.

Vaughn - 11.2 ppg. (second-leading scorer) as a freshman is quite a feat, especially considering he originally signed with Loyola Marymount but was released from his letter-of-intent after a coaching change -- did the new LMU coach make a wise decision? Vaughn is shooting .465% overall but just .259% from long range. That last number, plus the fact he has shot 52 free throws in 11 games (again, second on the squad) indicates ability to penetrate with the ball.

Also, backcourter Manny Quezada is a holdover from last season. Averaging 10 ppg, he's not shy with his shot (second on the team in three-point attempts) but is shooting just above 40% from the floor. But catch him during an on-night and he can lead USF to victory. Also to his credit, Quezada is leading the team with 40 assists. He certainly can create with the ball -- sometimes what a coach wants and also sometimes not. He has made seven starts to date.

The other double-digit minutes player is Chris O'Brien. A 6-4 freshman with eight starts under his belt, he has posted these confounding numbers: 36% shooting overall from the floor but .583% from long distance -- a third of his shots this season have been from three-point range.

Team numbers look like this:

*** USF is shooting .458% for the season to .432% for opponents.

*** The Dons collectively have 16 more free throw attempts than opposing teams.

*** On the boards, Waltes' squad is trailing -- 31.7 to 33.3.

*** With assists and turnovers, San Francisco is in a deficit per game -- 13.5 assists to 14.9 turnovers


Hyman Taylor 6-9/245 C JR
Kwame Vaughn 6-3/195 G FR
Blake Wallace 6-6/220 F JR
Peter Smith 5-11/155 G FR
Chris O'Brien 6-4/205 G FR
Manny Quezada 6-2/185 G SR
Dontae Bryant 6-2/175 G JR
Rashad Green 6-4/195 G SO
Clint Pekarsky 6-3/205 G FR
Christian Hernandez 6-5/210 G JR
James Morgan 6-9/240 C SR
Angelo Caloiaro 6-7/225 F FR
Dior Lowhorn 6-7/230 F JR
Paolo Zamorano 6-3/220 F JR

(Our note: We don't wish to be picky but here's your assignment Monday night. Size up Dior Lawhorn, who is officially listed as 6-7, 230. Next cast your eyes on freshman Angelo Caloiaro. On the official roster, Caloiaro's listed height/weight numbers are 6-7 and 225. Unless Angelo has packed on the muscle from when we last saw him at Archbishop Mitty, well, there's no way these two young men have a five pound weight difference).


This game is back at Walt McPherson Court.

This is embarrassing and unprofessional

No we are not talking about the added letter we inadvertently typed and then overlooked in our SJSU-NC game writeup that should have read: "Oliver must have coated himself with Rustoleum during his time off because any rustiness was pretty difficult to discern..." 'Coasted' was what we had and pretty much destroyed the meaning. Sheepish apology offered.

Actually, here IS what we are talking about:

It was Adrian Oliver's San Jose State debut yesterday afternoon, the highest rated player currently on any Santa Clara County college team's roster.

And the Mercury News (yes, the powers-that-be no longer desire to have San Jose affixed to the newspaper) had nobody covering the game. Nobody.

Worse that that, the game writeup in the Mercury News is by The Associated Press. And to find this, we had to do a search on the MN site using "Adrian Oliver" because there is no article to be found under the San Jose State sports heading.

But to his credit, Jon Wilner did a Friday preview of local college backetball action this weekend on his blog.

We came across this the other day, a quite telling admission: “My philosophy on pretty much everything these days is born of pure necessity,” said Bud Geracie, the acting sports editor[of the Mercury News]. “There’s no grand plan; it’s how we get through today.”

This is not to blast the reporters doing the best they can and just trying to hold on there. No, our target is much, much larger -- both the system and the mindset that all is but a commodity that must yield the highest payoff to investors.

Just how is such a philosophy of life/way of living community building, considering all the lipservice and handwringing given to such? Especially in newspaper editorials.

It's simply a shortsightedness and a selfishness that is dooming too many of our fabric-of-society elements and unfortunately for so many of us playing out everyday throughout our country because of what takes place -- and sometimes what doesn't take place -- in parts of Washington D.C. and New York City.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Spartans win 89-78

There's a new sheriff in town and he's kicking behind and taking names. Actually, make that kicked behind and took names as Adrian Oliver, with a major assist from Tim Pierce, led San Jose State to a comfortable 89-78 victory over Northern Colorado Saturday afternoon at the Civic Auditorium.

Oliver must have coated himself with Rustoleum during his time off because any rustiness was pretty difficult to discern. In his very first game, he led the Spartans with 27 points. Pierce contributed 26 (6-10 on threes, the six treys being a career high).

Another player certainly deserving mention is Justin (move and I will find you) Graham. Performing in the role he seemingly prefers --setting up others -- he notched a career-high 13 assists on the afternoon.

In the second half, San Jose jumped out quickly and broadened its lead to 57-40 with 15:16 remaining but Northern Colorado refused to fold. With 11:50 left, the Spartan lead was 60-48 as the game became sloppy on both sides. The point differential dropped to nine a couple of times but the Bears just couldn't close the gap.

The game opened with both a crispness to SJSU's passing and the making of just about every Spartan shot attempt. San Jose State led 17-12 with 15 minutes remaining in the first half but Northern Colorado kept plugging away.

SJSU again extended the lead to 33-22 with 8:50 remaining. But the Bears continued to fight and the initial half concluded with the Spartans leading 44-37.

Oliver was part of the Spartan starting five along with Chris Oakes, C.J. Webster, Pierce and Graham.

A few moments worth highlighting:

*** Oliver went on a dribble-drive early in the game and tossed a pretty pass towards Oakes but the two mis-communicated and it resulted in a turnover -- that immediately showed the fans there was something and someone new worth watching.

*** Oliver also penetrated into the paint and kicked the ball out to an open Robert Owens for Owens' only basket of the game, a three-pointer.

*** Oliver's next-to-last basket -- a layup off a pass from Graham -- came as a result of Oliver going backdoor on his defender but what also must be mentioned is that contributing to the basket was Graham motioning for Oliver to comes towards him which resulted in an Oliver feint in that direction and then towards the hoop for the resulting layup.

*** Graham made a steal at the 17:24 mark of the second half, drove down and passed the ball off the backboard for a trailing Tim Pierce dunk.

The point being and thoroughly demonstrated today is that Oliver can both get his own shot when necessary but also create for his teammates. What was quite evident, something that we've previously written about, is that San Jose State now has two creators in the backcourt in Graham and now Oliver.

A hat tip goes to Northern Colorado's Devon Beitzel who scored 27 points on 12-14 shooting. His quick release made guarding him extra difficult.

Jabril Banks' foul trouble limited him to just 14 minutes of play for the Bears, a serious factor considering he is the best big man for NC.

Adrian Oliver Shot Chart

Granted, we should have been charting Tim Pierce too but here's our take on the shots Oliver took throughout the game:

First Half

*** shot one - missed 14-footer from the right side

*** shot two - missed a trey attempt from the left corner

*** shot three - made a 10-foot turnaround jumper from the left side

*** shot four - buried a three-pointer from the left side

*** shot five - buried a 23-foot straight-on three-pointer from the top of the key

*** shot six - missed a dribble-drive layup from the right side, major contact was made on the shot

*** shot seven - missed a fallback 17-footer from the right side

*** shot eight - missed a straight-on 14-footer

*** shot nine - scored on a left side rebound putback underneath the basket

*** shot ten - missed on a dribble-drive shot from the right side, again with major contact

*** shot eleven - nailed a 13-foot pullup jumper from the left side

Second Half

*** shot twelve - missed a 16-foot fadeaway jumper from the right side

*** shot thirteen - made a 17-footer from the left side

*** shot fourteen - scored on a layup after receiving a pass underneath the basket from Justin Graham

*** shot fifteen - nailed a three-footer from the right side off a Graham pass

*** shot sixteen - made a 10-foot fadeaway from the right side

*** shot seventeen - scored on a left side layup going backdoor on his man, pass from Justin Graham

*** shot eighteen - scored on a dribble-drive straight-on 12-footer


The San Jose State ball movement, especially in the first half, was at times remarkable, resulting in a number of layups and short shots. The Spartans made two thirds of their field goal attempts, shooting 60% in the first half and 76% in the second twenty minutes. SJSU also shot 63% from three-point range.

Look at that package of points: 89-78. We were worried that the Civic Auditorium scoreboard was going to start smoking.

Oliver was also credited with three blocked shots. We clearly recall two of them and both came when he realized another player -- not his man -- was going up for a shot and he moved over to get a piece of it. This is just like what he talked about earlier in our interview -- the 'sensing' or 'knowing' what will take place before it does.

We spotted Ed Uthoff, who looks like he could still control the paint, and also Kevin Fleming, in the audience.

Final item: Like Justin Graham, Adrian Oliver is but a sophomore. He played in five games, for 56 minutes in an injury-filled early 2007-2008 season, before transferring from Washington. His last game action was early December 2007. Also remember that his last season of consistent playing time ended in March 2007. It didn't look that way today.

Meet Adrian Oliver

We've heard about him for some time now, caught glimpses of him playing in high school from a few dated on-line videos and now he is finally ready and able to play as a Spartan this afternoon against Northern Colorado.

So who is Adrian Oliver?

Here's what we found out from talking to him recently.

His favorite quote is this one: "Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them, a desire, a dream, a vision."

Why so?

"Basically because champions are made before they even start playing," Oliver said. "You have to have the desire, the heart, the vision in the first place. Sure it takes hard work and training but that comes after."

Oliver played every sport as a youngster -- soccer, track, baseball, football and basketball -- but it was the latter that won out. He lettered as a freshman in football but the gridiron was a temporary way station. "My friends were playing and it was something for me to try," Oliver offered.

It was the influence of cousins Tracy Cole and Bobby Cole, who played college hoops at Bowie State and Texas Southern respectively, that won out. "My cousin Bobby is like my brother," Oliver said. "When we are in Modesto, he's at my house or I'm at his place. He was always playing basketball and I wanted to be like him." Cole is now an assistant basketball coach at Modesto Christian High, his high school alma mater.

What was most interesting to us was the part of the conversation about personal improvement and, for lack of a better phrase, a high basketball IQ.

About the process of getting better, Oliver said, "I approach it like a business. The idea is to make my weaknesses into strengths. My first year at Washington, on-the-ball defending was one of my weaker aspects. Now, I consider locking somebody down a strength. But I'm always working on all the aspects of my game."

This led us to recall a paragraph from a 2003 AW Prince-written article on Oliver and his high school teammates Michael Porter. Here it is:

"...Growing up around the [Modesto Christian] program inspired Oliver and Porter to improve their games. "What I remember most about those teams is the way they practiced," Oliver said in speaking about his predecessors. "Each practice was played at such a high intensity level that when it was game-time, it was easy to see why the team went out and won so much. They were prepared. They were so competitive..."

As for basketball smarts, we related an incident we saw during an intra-squad game/practice earlier this season. Oliver was defending his man out on the wing, 18-20 feet from the basket. A Spartan at the top of the key then began penetrating, got into the paint and attempted a short jumper. Once Oliver saw the dribble-drive beginning, he ran over into the paint, jumped and blocked the shot -- seemingly as if out of nowhere. It was as if he knew what was going to take place before it did. "My whole life, I've been able to see plays before they happen -- not every time but a lot. Things just sort of slow down for me. It's something God has blessed me with."

We closed by asking Oliver what the Spartan fans will see beginning on Saturday afternoon? His reply: "They will see someone very competitive, someone who wants to win and hates to lose, who can score and is happy to step into the role of being a vocal leader."

Sounds like an early holiday present.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Marquin Chandler goes for 48

Marquin Chandler just barely misses the 50 point mark.

Yoon Chul
The Korean Times
December 15, 2008

The Dongbu Promy have reclaimed top spot in the Korean Basketball League (KBL).
The defending champion, which slipped down a place to second last week, cruised through three tough games with wins, while the other two competitors, the KT&G Kites and Ulsan Mobis, each lost two games.

In their Saturday match, the LK Sakers revenged their first round defeat to the Kites, with rookie Lee Ji-woon's three-point buzzer beater edging the game 87-86.

Though the Kites import Marquin Chandler scored a season-high 48 points, the tally fell just short of achieving victory.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

San Jose State v. Northern Colorado Saturday afternoon

San Jose State hosts Northern Colorado (NC) Saturday afternoon at the Civic Auditorium. The game time is 3 p.m.

A new-ish member of the Big Sky Conference, NC currently sports a 3-5 overall record, owning victories over Denver, Texas State and most recently Portland.

Here's a snippet on that game:

GREELEY, Colo. -- Northern Colorado's men's basketball team is about to embark on a six-day trip to California and Nevada -- much warmer locales than northern Colorado these days. But on Tuesday night inside cozy Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion, sophomore Neal Kingman provided all the heat the Bears would need to get a 76-73 victory against Portland. Kingman, a Greeley West product, hit a career-high five three-pointers on six attempts and six of nine shots from the field to pace Northern Colorado...As a team, Northern Colorado hit an even 50 percent from the field in this one and about 63 percent (62.5) from three-point land...

It's generally not indicative of much to play 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon' with win and losses throughout the basketball season but Portland does own a win at home against Nevada -- 63-61 -- on November 29.

Also, Northern Colorado plays at Fresno State tonight so we'll have a report from that game to you tomorrow.


Here's some pertinent information on Tad Boyle, courtesy of the NC athletics:

Tad Boyle was hired on April 25, 2006. A Greeley native, Boyle spent the six seasons prior to his arrival at Northern Colorado at Wichita State University, helping turn the Shockers into arguably the nation's best mid-major program, alongside head coach Mark Turgeon, a longtime friend and now head coach at Texas A&M...

...In his first year as Bears coach, Boyle was charged with turning around a program that had had minimal success for much of the past decade as it was reclassifying to the Division I level and was just beginning its first season as a member of the Big Sky Conference.

Northern Colorado finished just 4-24 but the Bears almost took down Big 12-team Colorado (they lost 88-86) in early December and then almost shocked Mountain West-team and instate rival Colorado State (they lost 75-66) the very next game.

In year two, it was a whole new ballgame.

Northern Colorado finished that year 13-16 -- its most wins since claiming 14 victories during the 2001-02 season -- and collected victories against Colorado State (72-59) and top 50-RPI team San Diego State (72-59).

It's all resulted in quite a buzz around Boyle's Northern Colorado program, in general, and the 2008-09 team, specifically.

"I really like where the program is headed," Boyle says. "We've made some definite strides in the past few years in the areas of recruiting, player development and facilities improvement, and that's only going to continue. It's a great time to be a Bear."


Nov. 14 at Oregon L, 66-64

Nov. 18 at Colorado St. L, 85-74

Nov. 26 at Denver W, 71-66

Nov. 29 Texas St. W, 105-93

Dec. 3 San Diego St. L, 73-62

Dec. 6 Air Force L, 71-62

Dec. 13 at Creighton L, 85-66

Dec. 16 Portland W, 76-73


Jabril Banks
6-7 SR 13.9 ppg., 5.4 rpg.
Taylor Montgomery 6-7 SO 2.4 ppg., 2.1 rpg.
Will Figures 5-9 JR 11.1 ppg., 2.4 rpg., 2.7
John Pena 5-10 JR 10.1 ppg., 1.9 apg.
Devon Beitzel 6-0 SO 9.7 ppg., 2.0 rpg.


Will Figures G Junior 5-9 150
Lee Hall G Freshman 5-9 175
Matt Dunsmoor G/F Senior 6-4 190
Chris Kaba F RS Sophomore 6-7 195
Elliott Lloyd G Freshman 6-1 175
Robert Palacios G Senior 6-1 190
Yahosh Bonner G Junior 6-0 210
Justin Wesolowski F RS Freshman 6-7 190
Jabril Banks F Senior 6-7 230
John Pena G Junior 5-10 160
Devon Beitzel G RS Sophomore 6-0 170
Neal Kingman F RS Sophomore 6-6 210
Mike Proctor F Freshman 6-8 200
Taylor Montgomery F Sophomore 6-7 230


Inside player Jabril Banks is the Bear go-to offensive player. He has started every game this season, plays 30 minutes a night and is shooting 60% from the floor. He's also at .765% on free throws so setting him up at foul line will presumably hurt.

The other expect starter in the paint, Taylor Montgomery, has been in the opening lineup in four of the eight games for the Bears but is averaging just a notch above 15 minutes of playing time per contest. His current numbers are below that of last year but he also has range on his shot, having nailed three of the four treys he has attempted. So he'll need watching if he ventures away from the basket.

Will Figures is the second leading scorer for the Bears despite being the smallest player on the squad. Curiously, he is shooting .39% overall but 44% from three-point range. He has attempted 38 free throws in eight games, making him the NC backcourt leader for foul shots attempted. His 21 assists are tops on the team.

John Pena plays 29 minutes a game as a full-time starter and is averaging 9.1 ppg. while shooting 45%. He's at 32% on 18 three-point shots.

Devon Beitzel has made three starts in eight games while on court for 18 minutes a night. He'll need shadowing as he is hitting 55% of his shots overall and almost 52% on threes. Pinpointing his shot selection, 31 of his 49 shots on the season have been from three-point range

Figures (5-9), Pena (5-10) and Beitzel (6-0) are the ringleaders of a small NC backcourt. Their quickness will be a chore to defend against but their height will also provide opportunities to overpower them when they are trying to prevent SJSU from scoring.

6-1 backcourter Robert Palacios leads the team in rebounding at 6.8 a contest and is also touted as a premiere defender.

6-6 frontcourter Neal Kingman has confounding shooting numbers. He's at 47% from the floor, an amazing 59% from long distance yet is shooting 55% from the foul line. Half of his 34 shots have been from three-point distance.


*** Northern Colorado is shooting a sound 45% from the floor but is allowing opponents to make almost every other shot (49%).

*** The Bears score 72.8 ppg. but are giving up 76.5.

*** The team is out-boarding opponents 34.5 a contest to 29.9.

*** NC has nabbed 42 steals but opponents have almost doubled that with 73.

*** The Bears have 142 turnovers to 101 for opposing teams.


Some guy named Adrian Oliver will be making his Spartan debut. No, there is no truth to the rumor that he will be playing with a cape that contains a big 'S' on it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's back to the future on Saturday

San Jose State men's basketball welcomes Northern Colorado for a basketball game on Saturday.

That, in and of itself, is straightforward.

But what's going to be unusual is that the contest takes place at the San Jose Civic Auditorium, beginning at 3 p.m.

No, we won't be seeing Chris McNealy, Reggie Owens, Ward Farris, Wally Rank, Matt Fleming and the like romping around on the court and none of those basketball short 'shorts' will be on display either -- it will be the 2008-2009 Spartans 'christening' the past San Jose State homecourt.

We also recall our 'Gold Circle' seats quite well, accomodations that had us sitting three feet or so from the court. The referees were usually quite chatty, too.

Here are some further details on Saturday's game:

*** All seating will be General Admission and tickets are just $10 for adults and $5 for youth 12-and-under.

*** Season ticket holders already possess tickets but bringing family and friends is encouraged -- share your Spartan-Civic memories with them.

*** Tickets can be bought in any of the following ways:

-- in person at the Spartan Ticket Office at 1393 S. 7th Street
-- online at
-- by calling the Spartan Ticket Office at (408) 924-SJTX or (877) SJSUTIX during regular business hours of 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Monday-Friday
-- the day of the game via walk-up (cash only) starting at 1:00 PM at the Civic Auditorium Box Office.

*** Doors will open at 2:00 pm before the 3:00 pm tip-off.

*** Here is a link to parking information in the area:

More on Spartan signee Anthony Dixon

We sent out a note earlier about how Spartan signee Joe Henson is doing at Pasadena High this season and here's another brief update on him followed by some information we've collected on Anthony Dixon, another SJSU signee.

"It shouldn't surprise anyone that undefeated Westchester won the Ocean View Tournament of Champions for the second consecutive year on Saturday...

Check out all-tournament team: Vaughn Autry (Gardena Serra), Shelton Boykin (Long Beach Poly), Denzel Douglas (Westchester), Kareem Jamar (Westchester), Jerry Evans (Leuzinger), Julian Wheeler (Leuzinger), Thomas Hammock (Compton Centennial), Joseph Henson (Pasadena)....

Austin Knoblauch, LA TIMES"


6-4 Anthony Dixon is a McDonald's All-American nominee who plays for Hyde Park in Chicago.

November 25, 2008
Hyde Park 95, Dyett 50

Hyde Park: Malcolm Griffin 20 pts, 10 assists; Martell Jackson 15 pts, 10 steals; Anthony Dixon 8 pts, 20 rebs


December 3, 2008

"Five players scored in double figures as No. 12 Hyde Park defeated Harlan 72-56 Wednesday night. Anthony Dixon led the way with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Malcolm Griffin (13 points, six rebounds, six steals), Martell Jackson (14 points, six steals), Fabyon Harris (10 points, five steals) and Aqui Sharees (12 points, five rebounds) contributed to the victory, which moved Hyde Park to 2-0."


December 11, 2008

"Hyde Park 75, Robeson 65: All five starters scored in double figures for Hyde Park (3-1, 1-0): Anthony Dixon (16 points), Malcolm Griffin (15 points, 10 assists), Fabyon Harris (15 points), Martel Jackson (12 points) and Jerome Moore (10 points, 10 rebounds)."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A WAC look at some non-WAC numbers

We haven't put a heavy focus on statistics -- other than some specific wins and losses -- to this point because of the number of lower division teams that have been on the schedules of the WAC teams.

But now is the time to begin paying attention, especially with league games not too far off.

It's hard to characterize what will happen in conference action vis-a-vis statistics as some teams will gel and some players will continue with their improvement (and their stats will show this) while some squads and players won't. Each member plays twice against the other, thus coaching staffs better know their opponents and this familiarity allows the attempts to implement what works best offensively and defensively against each other.

The bottomline: the WAC players at the higher levels and those on the rise should either continue or better their respective stats to date and vice versa.

Note the rankings of Tim Pierce, Chris Oakes (twice), Justin Graham (twice) and DaShawn Wright.

A look at the WAC leaders and early surprises
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

Western Athletic Conference play is about three we
eks away, but here's a look at the conference leaders:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

There were three generations of Amberrys at the San Diego game

For uniqueness, this probably can't be beat. Besides Clint Amberry on the court against San Diego in his most extensive playing time to date, his father and grandfather were also present. The latter, Dr. Tom Amberry, is well known for his amazing free throw shooting streaks. His mark is 2,750 in a row.

Go here for a Sports Illustrated article on Dr. Tom.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Some news on Spartan signee Joe Henson

*** UPDATE: Here's the very latest on Joe Henson -- "...In an earlier game, Joseph Henson scored 28 points to help Pasadena defeat Rancho Verde, 51-38..."

Joe Henson signed with the San Jose State men's basketball program during the November signing period. Here are three articles we've collected on Henson and Pasadena High. We graciously won't hold it against Joe Henson -- that is, the fact that he plays for the Bulldogs.

Pasadena opens as Star-News' No. 1 team
Miguel A. Melendez
Pasadena Star-News
December 2, 2008

As the temperatures dip lower during the winter, the heat will rise inside area high school gymnasiums as the basketball season is well underway.

The season officially began Monday with area teams taking part in tournament tip-offs, and this year's No. 1 team in the Star-News preseason Top 10 rankings is no stranger to the view from the top.

Pasadena High School has the players, size and speed to wreak havoc as the Bulldogs hope to contend for a CIF-SS championship.


The Bulldogs finished 22-6 overall last season and won their fourth consecutive Pacific League title. Pasadena has lost just one league game the past four seasons.

But despite all the regular-season success, the Bulldogs were ousted by Arroyo Valley in the second round of last year's CIF-SS playoffs.

"We're optimistic about this year," Pasadena coach Tim Tucker said. "We think we'll have a great year with a number of players returning.

"We have the size and one of the bigger teams in high school basketball."

The Bulldogs will be led by San Jose State-bound Joseph Henson, a 6-foot-9, 255 pound senior who will provide an intimidating presence in the front court.

Henson had an outstanding sophomore season before injuries plagued his junior year in which some major Division I schools pulled the plug on their recruiting interest.

But Henson fought his way back into what may be the best condition of his life.

"It's probably the first time the kid has been in shape," Tucker said.

Henson recovered from hip surgery and earned a scholarship. He signed with San Jose State just a few weeks ago.

"The kid has come back strong and lost all the baby fat," Tucker added. "A lot of schools liked the fact that he got back in shape, but he chose San Jose State because they stuck with him. It shows his character."

Henson will have plenty of good company in the front court with 6-foot-9 junior Steven Adams, who grew three inches in the offseason, and 6-foot-6 small forward Tyler Slye.

Adams is considered one of the best power forwards in the country and is ranked No.4 in the nation in his class by some recruiting publications.

National powerhouse Kentucky and just about every Pac-10 school, including UCLA, have taken a look at Adams.

Slye brings a Michael Cooper-esque style to the Bulldogs this season, and he even wears the same number (No.21) the former Lakers standout and Sparks head coach wore as a Bulldog.

Pasadena hosts the fifth Rose City Classic, a tournament that features the best teams in the Southland. Among some of the best players showcased will be UCLA-bound forward Tyler Honeycutt, who will lead Sylmar.


Bulldogs triumph handily
Keith Lair
Pasadena Star-News

PASADENA - It takes a lot to surprise Pasadena High School boys basketball coach Tim Tucker.

Thursday night in the fifth annual Rose City Round Ball Classic at Pasadena, Tucker was a bit surprised. Dorsey High pulled numerous double teams on key Bulldogs players in the opening half of the quarterfinal game. The Dons picked up on point guard George Toyama and off-guard Darius Johnson...
Go here for the remainder.


Pasadena falls short in 'title game'
Miguel A. Melendez
Pasadena Star News

Sometimes championship games are played in the semifinals. Take last weekend's Rose City Classic, for example.

Pasadena High School, the Star-News' top-ranked boys basketball team, ran into Etiwanda in the semifinals. The game had all the makings of a championship game, with two talented teams and a gymnasium packed to capacity.

The game also was competitive, but the Bulldogs took control in the fourth quarter and went on a 16-0 run. They then ran into a wall, however, and the game unraveled for them.
.. Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Spartan Daily features Lance Olivier

The Spartan Daily had a nice feature on Lance Olivier the other day.

Smallest package delivers big assets for men's basketball team
Danielle Torralba

The Spartan Daily


He may only stand at 5 feet 2 inches tall, but sophomore point guard Lance Olivier is one of the SJSU men's basketball team's biggest assets.

"I gained a lot of respect from the players on the squad," he said. "At first they were kind of skeptical, but then they saw me play."

In his second year on the team, Olivier is the shortest player for the Spartans and is acknowledged as the shortest in NCAA Division I men's basketball, according to SJSU Athletics.
.. Go here for the remainder.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Norm Avrech remembers Larry Arnerich

We received this note a while back:

(photo on the right is Larry Arnerich)

Don't ask me how but for some reason I thought of Larry Arnerich today and the profound effect he had on my life. So I "googled" him and found your recent article, which also included info on people I knew in high school, George Clark, Ray Silva and my friend of many years, Norm Mineta.

Larry was my coach at San Jose High from 1944 to 1947 when I played 110, 120 and 130 exponent basketball.

My last two years during basketball season I would peddle home to 20th St., wolf down dinner, and peddle back to SJ High to referee adult league basketball games, two on Tuesday and Thursday nights and three on Wednesday nights! I literally refereed hundreds of games with Larry. I was a little squirt then and more than once Larry would firmly let it be known that he would default a team that questioned my call. Can you imagine what this support meant to me?

As a coach Larry was a model of fairness, firmness and advocate of team basketball. I suppose he was a father figure to many of us. Out a player went if he took a bad shot, even if it scored.

Our lightweight teams had many Nisei, returned from camps in Nevada, who played outstanding ball for Larry. Norm Mineta was one example. Larry's whole offensive strategy was highly disciplined involving ball movement and progressive screens until a player was freed for a lay up.

Defensively, we played both zones and man-to-man. The 110 and 120 exponent teams hardly ever lost, maybe never, but my memory of sixty years ago, is shall we say, a bit dim and conceivably jaded.

Larry was very insistent on shooting free throws underhand, that is, unless you could hit eight of ten overhand. Larry was almost flawless shooting underhand blindfolded! Well, all time Bulldog and Spartan great Ed Maggetti had no problem meeting the test since he was a deadly one hand shooter. (I recall him almost beating the Harlem Globetrotters single handed at SJ Civic Auditorium before they brought along their own group of stooges so as to prevent embarrassments.)

Larry also was a superior bowler: He had a classic smooth four step delivery, and if I recall correctly he carried a 193 average in league play. Larry's dad, who was a fine bowler himself, owned a lounge and restaurant on Santa Clara Avenue near second street, appropriately named "Arnerich's."

As an aside, I also wrestled a bit for an incredible character, Sam Della Maggiore, who later became a county supervisor. Sam actually coached the tennis team, which was hilarious, since a number of us on the team knew more about the game than Sam.

In my senior year, under George Eglin, we had a great team. For example, Dick Russo and I knocked off the national boy's champions in a Golden Gate Park tournament and Dick Steinhauer came close to beating the national junior champion in another tournament.

I also served as sports editor of the Bulldog during my junior and senior years. How I ever got any homework done and earned good enough grades to be accepted into Cal Berkeley's engineering school is beyond me.

If you talk with Larry please give him my best regards...I think he'll remember me...and tell him that I'm still swinging a tennis racquet as I close in on eight decades of life.


Norm Avrech

WORTH NOTING: Go to the San Diego Torero athletics site this morning and you'll find a brief Associated Press game writeup with a box score link. Go next to the San Jose State athletics site and you'll find a full length game writeup and a box score link. Remember that the game was in San Diego. A well-earned and deserved hat tip goes out to the SJSU media relations staff.