Sunday, December 7, 2008

Spartans travel to San Diego on Monday

The San Jose State men's basketball team travels down to the self-proclaimed "America's Finest City" Monday night for a skirmish with the San Diego Toreros.

So just what is a Torero? Well, it's the main performer in bullfighting events in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries. Now we generally admire and root for anyone in the fight against bull -- heavens knows there's an over supply of it -- but why the Toreros are branching out to also battle the Spartans remains a mystery. Gonzaga, Fresno State, Louisiana Tech, even Drake would be more appropriate but what the hey.

Bill Grier, the former top assistant at Gonzaga, is in the midst of year two of his tenure in the border city. The outstanding achievements of his initial season included a Big Dance victory over Connecticut and an undefeated run through the West Coast Conference tournament with wins over Pepperdine, St. Mary's and Gonzaga. Now not to dilute these accomplishments but getting hot at the most opportune time immensely aided in the Torero run. The 22-14 overall record was earned primarily by an 11-3 conference record after puttering along at 11-11 in non-conference play last season.


San Jose State and San Diego matched up last season in the Jenny Craig Pavilion and the Spartans fell 60-40. Here's what we wrote then about the game:

"San Jose State came out flat and never could get a run going throughout the evening as the Spartans fell to the University of San Diego Toreros 60-40 Wednesday night.

It was a case of too much Gyno Pomare, both offensively and defensively. The score was 25 -14 in favor of San Diego after 20 minutes with the 6-8 San Diego center enjoying six blocked shots and simply refusing to give San Jose's C.J. Webster a single good look at the basket. Actually, credit the entire Torero team for a solid defensive performance as a hand and sometimes more was always in the faces of the Spartan shooters. SJSU shot 24% in the initial half.

The point differential was manageable throughout the first half -- San Diego leading 13-8 at the 10:53 mark, 18-10 with 6:34 remaining. Even the 11-point difference at the half was nowhere near insurmountable.

But no Spartan streak was forthcoming and the Toreros eventually stretched the margin to 20 points for the majority of the second half.

DeVonte Thomas led San Jose with 11 points and DaShawn Wright added eight. Thomas also led with eight boards.

For the game, San Jose shot 28% from the floor, going 15-54 overall, 2-10 on threes. San Diego shot 44%, going 25-47."


On 11/15/08, a 65-60 loss at UNLV -- Wink Adams scored 19 points and freshman Oscar Bellfield added 13 to lead UNLV over San Diego 65-60 Saturday afternoon in the season opener for both teams. Rob Jones led San Diego with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. Brandon Johnson added 14 points, on 8-of-9 shooting from the foul line.

On 11/18/08, a 65-51 win at home against Nevada -- Rob Jones scored 23 points and Gyno Pomare added 12 to lead San Diego to a 65-51 win over Nevada on Tuesday night. Jones was nearly perfect for San Diego (1-1), which led the entire game. Jones hit 10 of 12 shots, including two to start the second half as the Toreros increased their 10-point halftime lead to 43-27. Nevada (1-1), shot 32.7 percent from the field, including 24.1 percent in the second half as it fell behind by as many as 25 points. Pomare, the Toreros' starting center, was 6-for-7 from the floor in 17 minutes off the bench. Brandon Johnson scored 13 points for San Diego, which shot 54 percent from the floor.

On 11/21/08, a 73-66 victory over Valparaiso in a tourney in the U.S. Virgin Islands -- In a physical battle in the opening round of the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam, the Toreros (2-1) held off the Valparaiso Crusaders (2-1) by the score of 73-66. Senior forward Gyno Pomare came off the bench for game-highs of 17 points and 12 rebounds, and senior guard Brandon Johnson chipped in with 14 points and 8 rebounds.

On 11/23/08, a 64-49 loss to Wisconsin, again in the Virgin Islands -- The San Diego Toreros (2-2), who battled No. 25 Wisconsin (4-0) in tonight's second semifinal of the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam, struggled on the offensive end of the floor in falling to the Badgers, 64-49. USD was paced by senior guard Brandon Johnson who scored 19 points and converted 5-of-8 from beyond the three-point arc. USD's Gyno Pomare was the only other Torero in double digits with 10 points.

On 11/24/08, an 80-45 loss to Miami, again in the Virgin Islands, in which Gyno Pomare played just 13 minutes.

On 12/01/08, a 77-65 win at Cal State Bakersfield -- Gyno Pomare had 24 points and nine rebounds as San Diego beat Cal State Bakersfield 77-65 on Monday. Brandon Johnson added 18 points for the Toreros (4-3), who shot 61 percent from the floor and 54 percent from beyond the arc. Matt Dorr scored 14 for San Diego and Rob Jones added 13.

On 12/06/08, a 57-46 loss to crosstown rival San Diego State -- Gyno Pomare turned in another solid outing as he tallied a team-high 17 points and 8 rebounds. He made 8-of-10 shots and added two blocked shots. Chris Lewis chipped in with 12 points. USD finished the game shooting 47.5% from the field, and turned the ball over 17 times.

There's also a Torero win against San Diego Christian College.


Grier returned his entire squad for the 2008-09 campaign, in addition to welcoming his second recruiting class.

*** But star backcourter Brandon Johnson suffered a ruptured left Achilles tendon last night against San Diego State and is now out for the season. He was averaging 14 ppg. and 4.3 rpg. this season, along with 29 assists, 24 turnovers and 13 steals while shooting .380% overall and .343 on his three point shots. Johnson was the 'heart' of the team even though he was more of a scorer than a sharpshooter as his percentages indicate. His loss should mean the Toreros will place more emphasis on getting the ball to the frontcourters from here on out. ***

Opening Quintet

F Chris Lewis 6-7 JR -- 6.0 ppg., 3.4 ppg., shooting .556% overall, has some three-point range
F Rob Jones 6-5 SO -- 10.7 ppg., 5.7 rpg., is shooting .500% but leads team with 25 turnovers, outplayed Nevada's Luke Babbitt in their earlier matchup
F Gyno Pomare 6-8 SR -- 12.8 ppg., 5.2 rpg., shooting .576% from the floor
G Danny Brown 6-4 SR or Devin Ginty 6-2 SO
G Matt Dorr 6-4 SO -- 5.9 ppg., 4.3 rpg., shooting .438% overall and .389% from long distance, 16 assists-second on team, 15 turnovers

*** Jones is an undersized power forward but is displaying better range on his shot this season

*** Pomare is a big body who jumps well and the primary problem for opposing frontcourts.

***Door's shooting attempts break down to about half his shots being threes and half closer in.

*** Trumaine Johnson and De'Jon Jackson would be the expected Brandon Johnson replacements but it appears a combination of injuries and a suspension have waylaid this pair. Forward Clinton Houston was also suspended earlier but is now back.

Devonier Braswell 5-10/226 Guard FR
Danny Brown 6-4/185 Guard SR
Matt Dorr 6-4/196 Guard SO
Devin Ginty 6-2/180 Guard SO
Ryan Harbour 6-4/195 Guard SO/
Clinton Houston 6-7/228 Forward SO
De'Jon Jackson 6-2/200 Guard JR
Brandon Johnson 6-3/200 Guard SR
Trumaine Johnson 6-2/190 Guard SO
Rob Jones 6-6/230 Forward SO
Chris Lewis 6-7/215 G/FJR
Nathan Lozeau 6-10/270 Center SO
Roberto Mafra 6-9/235 Forward/Center JR
Gyno Pomare 6-8/240 Forward SR
Nick Price 6-2/190 Guard SR


*** San Diego is shooting .455% for the season and holding opponents to a paltry .404%.

*** In the seven games so far, the Toreros have attempted just 99 three-point attempts

*** On the season, SD has committed 108 turnovers with 96 assigned to opponents.

*** The Toreros have been credited with 45 steals to 55 for opponents.


As we typed for the matchup between these two teams last season, this contest will take place in the on-campus Jenny Craig Pavilion. Since Ms. Craig is synonymous with weight loss, maybe the Toreros can magnanimously join in this spirit and in homage to their benefactor, shrink from playing well and drop this game to the Spartans.

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