Sunday, December 28, 2008

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.

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