Saturday, January 31, 2009

A great photo from today's game

Here's a great photo, one that epitomizes the nature of the game today in Ruston. Nothing easy, everything earned.

San Jose State wins 53-51

Athletic contests can evolve in style and substance and Saturday's matchup between visiting San Jose State and Louisiana Tech was exhibit 101.

The Spartans came out strong and eventually opened up an early 10-point lead, 19-9, offering a sense that this game was going to be different than recent ones -- say a nice working margin throughout. But a combination of SJSU turnovers and Bulldog offensive rebounds got Louisiana Tech back into the game and then the match became a grinder.

(photo credit: Terrell Lloyd)

But it turned out to be a keeping-at-it contest that the Spartans won 53-51.

It was tied at 44 when it became, much to LT Coach Kerry Rupp's chagrin, the Adrian Oliver Experience. AO hit a three-pointer to give San Jose State a three-point lead with 2:58 remaining.

The Techsters missed a shot but Magnum (Spiderman) Rolle grabbed the rebound and scored on a layup to bring LT to within one.

Oliver then nailed an 18-footer at the 1:56 mark to boost the lead back to three.

After a Rupp timeout, the Bulldogs fumbled offensively and then had to fire a corner jumper as the shot clock dwindled. It missed and San Jose State regained possession.

It was yet another Oliver 18-footer -- seven straight points by the sophomore -- with 52 seconds on the clock that put the difference at five.

David Jackson misfired on a three-pointer but the Dogs rebounded and junior Reggie Guyton nailed a trey to bring Louisiana Tech back to two, 51-49, with half a minute left.

Justin Graham was fouled two seconds later and the soph nailed both his free throws to make it 53-49.

Kyle Gibson missed on a very long three-point attempt but Rolle again rebounded and scored with 18 seconds on the clock and the scoreboard showing SJSU with 53 points and Louisiana Tech having 51.

Oliver was fouled at the 17-second mark but he missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Bulldogs were down by two with possession of the ball.

After Tech inbounded, Rolle missed on a short jumper but San Jose State knocked the ball out of bounds and Tech retained possession. David Jackson did get a final shot off but it missed and we're unsure if his attempt came before the buzzer sounded anyway.

Adrian Oliver led San Jose State with 15 points and Mac Peterson contributed eight in a solid second-half boost for the Spartans. Magnum Rolle earned a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds, plus six shotblocks.

As a team, the Spartans shot 48% for the game, including 6-14 on threes. But the team's foul shooting dropped to 7-16. LT shot just 36% for the contest.

At the half, it was 23 apiece.

It was the third road win in conference for San Jose State.

NOTES The game preview at the San Jose State's athletics site came with a photo of Mac Peterson shooting a jumper (the photo above). Someone in the SID's office can apparently divine the future as Peterson had his best game of the season.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Take a number

It's listed as having a few different sources but let's begin with the adage that there are lies, damned lies and statistics.

Let's add that there are countless variables in sports metrics that weave into and out of the numbers. Among those are how many home versus road games, which players were available during the period of time measured, what foul trouble -- if any -- fractured the player rotation and skewed the usual playing time, opponent playing styles, both offensively and defensively, and many more.

So numbers mean something while also meaning nothing.

With this zen-ness in mind, let's dig into some recent San Jose State basketball stats of late.

As of 1/29/09:

*** The Spartans were caboosing it in the WAC with field goal percentage defense at .466.

The leaders in field goal percentage defense are: Nevada and Utah State at .406% and .407% respectively, with Boise State and surprisingly Fresno State tied at .420%. Hint, hint, which teams are atop the conference?

There are a variety of important numbers in basketball but field goal percentage defense is among the foremost of importance. We posted some time earlier that the team defending the best this season would win the conference and that is at least currently playing out.

It can't be broken down so simply because game plans and strategies as well as personnel and other factors play a part in it but defending begins with desire and effort.

Here's Pete Carril: "The object of my defensive strategy is to contest every pass and shot, to force the opponent to move the ball under continuous pressure. I want the other team to play offense longer than they're used to. Defense is not a variable. It's a constant. Defense has to be deeply embedded in your attitude. It's something you can do well every time -- both the individual and the team. Skill is a variable. Work is not a variable. It's an attitude. Defense is head, heart, and legs."

Now we're not trying to muddy the proverbial waters but let's delve into another area:

*** SJSU was tops in rebounding differential in the WAC by a very wide margin: +8.2 a game. Nevada is next at +4.7, followed by Utah State with +3.6. All other WAC teams are in the negative.

As with defense, there are a myriad of factors combining for strong boardplay but desire and effort ranks among the utmost in rebounding.

So, when both revolve around the attribute of desire and effort, why is San Jose State leading the conference in rebounding differential but the placement is reversed in field goal percentage defense?

We don't know but we're certainly receptive to ideas and explanations. This seems a case of just when you think you have a fairly good grasp then a condundrum like this appears.

If this helps, here's a look at similar categories for the last few Spartan games:

The New Mexico State game (79-71 loss)

rebounding -- San Jose State 42 (20 offensive), New Mexico State 27 (12 offensive)
*** shooting -- San Jose State 29-63 46%, New Mexico State 28-57 49% *** free throws -- San Jose State 18-20, New Mexico State 25-32
*** turnovers -- San Jose State 21, New Mexico State 12 *** steals -- San Jose State 4, New Mexico State 13

The Utah State game (62-58 loss)

rebounding -- San Jose State 36 (9 offensive), Utah State 28 (14 offensive)
*** shooting -- San Jose State 24-51 47% , Utah State 22-58, 37.9% *** free throws -- San Jose State 8-11 foul shots, Utah State 13-20 foul shots
*** turnovers -- San Jose State 12, Utah State 4 *** steals -- San Jose State 1, Utah State 6

The Fresno State game (85-79 win)

*** rebounding -- San Jose State 41 (16 offensive), Fresno State 25 (7 offensive)
*** shooting -- San Jose State 30-64, 47%, Fresno State 29-62, 47% *** free throws -- San Jose State 18-25, Fresno State 9-10
*** turnovers -- San Jose State 18, Fresno State 19 *** steals -- San Jose State 7, Fresno State 7

The Hawaii game (73-61 win)

*** rebounding -- San Jose State 27 (10 offensive), Hawaii 27 (13 offensive)
*** shooting -- San Jose State 20-42 48%, Hawaii 22-50 47% *** free throws -- San Jose State 28-36, Hawaii 11-16
*** turnovers -- San Jose State 13, Hawaii 19 *** steals -- San Jose State 6, Hawaii 8

So what are the patterns, if any? The roster of the SJSU squad have been constant although injuries and not being at 100% need to be factored into the equation. Each opponent obviously brings a unique set of strengths and weaknesses.

Does defending require a greater degree of focus or awareness than rebounding? Again, we don't know.

SJSU v. LA TECH Saturday afternoon

Does Louisiana Tech's loss to Hawaii bode well for the Spartans or will it rile up the Techsters even more in defending their home court? Your guess is as good as ours.

Here's the Hawaii-LAT game report from last night:

'Bows beat buzzer, Bulldogs
Balocka's putback as time expires propels UH past LaTech, 54-53
Honolulu Advertiser Staff and News Services
January 29, 2009

The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team is hoping a putback will put it back in the right direction.

Petras Balocka scored on a putback as the final horn sounded, ending weeks of frustration with a 54-53 road victory over Louisiana Tech yesterday at Ruston, La.

A crowd of 1,671 at the Thomas Assembly Center left in silence when the referees ruled that the basket was good after reviewing video of the final play.

"What can I say? I got lucky," Balocka said. "The ball bounced my way and I knew time was running out. There wasn't time to think about it, really. Just tip it."

The Rainbow Warriors ended a five-game losing streak to improve to 10-10 overall and 2-6 in the Western Athletic Conference. Both of Hawai'i's WAC victories came against LaTech, and both were by one point. The Bulldogs, who dropped to 8-13 and 2-6, are now tied with Hawai'i for seventh place in the nine-team WAC.

"From my vantage point, it looked good," said Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash, whose team won its first game on the road since it beat Idaho on Jan. 26 last year. "But you never know what they'll see when they look at the replay, so I'm just glad we got the win."

Roderick Flemings led Hawai'i with 17 points, including three 3-pointers. Bill Amis added 14 points and six rebounds, and Balocka contributed 10 points and five rebounds.

"We were all sick and tired of losing," Balocka said. "Hopefully, this is a new beginning for us."

Jamel Guyton hit a 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs a momentary 53-52 lead.

After calling a timeout, Nash designed a final play near the basket for Flemings. But he was covered, and the ball instead went to Amis, who took an off-balance turnaround jumper. It bounced off the rim to Balocka, who converted on the rebound.

"It wasn't the way we drew it up, but we always tell the guys 'crash the boards on every shot,' and Petras certainly did that," Nash said.

The victory came after an intense week of practice for the 'Bows.

After a 16-point loss at home to Utah State last Saturday, Nash closed practices to the media and public. He admitted "yelling and screaming" more than normal during those sessions.

"I was pleased with the way they approached this game and stayed with the game plan," Nash said. "We emphasized all week that this is a team, and everybody has to be on the same page for this to work. For the most part, we stayed with the system and game plan."

Even after LaTech raced to a 13-2 lead to start the game, Nash said the 'Bows never panicked.

"They came out and hit their first four shots, three of them were 3s, but I didn't think that would last forever," Nash said. "I said let's keep working and we'll get back in this thing."

The 'Bows trailed by as many as 12 in the first half, but cut the LaTech lead to 35-30 at intermission.

Hawai'i opened the second half with an 11-1 run to take a 41-36 lead. The 'Bows increased their lead to 49-42 with 5:52 remaining, but the Bulldogs fought back to make it exciting at the end.

Hawai'i went just 4 of 7 on free throws, but shot 46.9 percent from the field — its best percentage since the last victory over LaTech on Jan. 5.

Nash said during the week that not every player on the team was "buying in" during the intense practices, and so there could be changes to the rotation.

Sure enough, only seven 'Bows saw action yesterday. Amis and Kareem Nitoto each played the full 40 minutes, and Flemings played 39.

Guyton led the Bulldogs with 14 points, including four 3-pointers.

For LA TECH, a shifting of positions and duties has taken place. The recent suspension of 6-10, 260 Kenneth Cooper for the remainder of the season (and more than likely from Ruston forever) moves Magnum Rolle into the middle. Cooper hurt San Jose State in the earlier game with 17 points, six rebounds and the cuasing of five fouls on Chris Oakes. Rolle is quite the different player at 6-11, 225, more an extremely athletic flyswatter of shots who is better at shotblocking as a help defender than as a straight-on defender. Rolle did go for 23 points (11-11 from the floor) and 12 rebounds, plus three shotblocks against Boise State in the last Bulldog contest.

In the previous game at Walt McPherson Court between San Jose State and Louisiana Tech, here's our writeup:

Spartans fall 66-61 to Louisiana Tech

San Jose State jumped out to a very early lead but Louisiana Tech countered and the sense set in that the game would be a grinder from then on out. That it became as the Bulldogs crept into the lead and held it at intermission.

With 13:05 remaining in the second half, San Jose State tied it up at 41 apiece. The Spartans inched away to a 48-44 lead at the 10:51 mark.

Then a cold stretch by SJSU, coupled with a Kyle Gibson three, put Tech back in the lead at 52-51 with 6:32 on the clock.

A Justin Graham three-pointer from the top of the circle made it 59-56 in favor of the Ruston-ites with 3:56 remaining. The Techsters missed a shot on the next possession but so did SJSU. After another Bulldog turnover, Tim Pierce hit a trey from the right side to tie the game at 59 with 2:47 remaining.

Tech committed another turnover but Pierce missed on a dribble-drive and the Bulldogs rebounded.

Jamel Guyton was fouled and nailed both free throws, giving Louisiana Tech a two point margin, 61-59. Adrian Oliver countered with an 18-foot jumper to tie it back up.

Then the crucial possessions occurred.

Kenneth Cooper scored on a crossunder layup and Magnum Rolle subsequently blocked Graham's dribble-drive shot in the key.

Tech took a timeout with 44.3 seconds on the clock and possession of the ball.

The Bulldogs' Gibson missed a shot attempt but Cooper rebounded. He was then tied up but the possession arrow favored Tech -- 24.3 seconds remained.

After a timeout, Cooper was intentionally fouled and made one of two free throws with 22.7 seconds left.

At the 13 second mark, Pierce missed a three-point attempt -- back rim -- and James Loe was fouled. He nailed both free throws and that was the game.

Tech's Cooper went to the bench early in the initial half after two too easy C.J. Webster buckets. But the Bulldog center became a force in the remainder of the contest, moving bodies and creating space so much so that Webster and Spartan center Chris Oakes were both saddled with two fouls at the half. Call Cooper the most valuable Bulldog of the night as LAT smartly and proficiently ran offensive sets that often isolated Cooper against a either a smaller or less weighty Spartan.

Adrian Oliver again led San Jose State, this time with 18 points. On a night where his shooting appeared off, he still shot 7-14. Webster added 17 and six boards. Cooper also finished with 17 and Guyton was definitely 'on' tonight with 14 points on with 4-8 shooting overall and an 'en fuego' 4-5 from long distance. Although Gibson entered the game with many 40 assists to 48 turnovers, he enjoyed three assists and zero miscues with the ball on the evening. Guyton also had five assists with but one turnover even though he entered the game with a 33/34 assist to turnover ratio.

As teams, San Jose State shot just below 42% for the game, a paltry 4-17 on three-pointers and earned just 12 free throws, all by Webster and Oliver. But 19 Spartan assists were a bright spot. The Techsters were just above 42% for the game but 7-11 on trey attempts and 21-29 at the charity stripe. Rebounding ended up in SJSU's favor 34-31, with 13 coming at the offensive end.

The LT Season To Date

Look at the scores and it's front and center that the Techsters aren't winning or losing by much. The Fresno State was an anomaly with a 6-32 second half team shooting the downfall for LT.

1/03/09 @ San Jose State W, 66-61
1/05/09 @ Hawaii L, 65-64
1/08/09 Utah State L, 50-37
1/10/09 Nevada L, 67-64
1/17/09 Idaho W, 74-63
1/22/09 @ Fresno State L, 63-46
1/24/09 @ Boise State L, 58-53
1/29-09 Hawaii L, 53-54

The Bulldog starting five

Magnum Rolle F 6-11 225 11.5 ppg., 6.8 rpg.
Adrian Rogers F 6-6 235 0.9 ppg., 1.3 rpg.
Kyle Gibson G 6-5 205 14.5 ppg., 4.0 rpg., 2.8 apg.
Jamel Guyton G 6-3 180 12.1 ppg., 3.3 rpg.
James Loe G 5-10 170 4.1 ppg., 1.7 rpg.

-- He is a Louisiana native who transferred from LSU. Call him the best athlete in the WAC, a near seven-footer who can run and jump with the best. He can produce numbers -- it's a matter of doing so every time out for him as hee has the potential to be a dominant player and the predcition is he will be an NBA draftee.

Rogers -- He is one of the few holdovers from last season and more a stopgap at this point. But it's great he is getting more minutes now in his final season.

Gibson -- Forced to play at the point some time in games, Gibson is the best Bulldog player and most proficient as an off guard or wing. He typically needs to reach 20 or so points a game for the Bulldgos to have a chance to win.

Guyton -- Basketball doesn't have official designated shooters but Guyton would qualify if such is ever instituted. He's a transfer from a Florida junior college. Guyton played well against SJSU in the previous match.

James Loe -- The key is to maintain defensive pressure on him and force errors but he's pretty much stabilized his play since league play began and allowed Gibson to have much less ballhandling responsibility, a major plus.

David Jackson -- He's an intra-conference transfer who played as a freshman at Idaho but left and attended an Arizona junior college last season. He's playing close to 28 minutes a game and chipping in with contributions across the board for LT.

Olu Ashaolu -- A lot was expected immediately of Ashaolu but he has taken longer than some expected in his adjustment to D-1. He's a physical specimen at a very athletic 6-7, 230.

The Louisiana Tech men's roster
(by position & alphabetical)

Olu Ashaolu 6-7 230 G redshirt freshman
Yonas Berhe 6-0 170 G freshman
Brandon Gibson 6-5 230 G freshman
Kyle Gibson 6-5 205 G junior
Jamel Guyton 6-3 180 G junior
James Loe 5-11 190 G senior
Anson Bartlett 6-3 175 G freshman

David Jackson 6-8 195 F junior
Adrian Rogers 6-6 235 F senior
Magnum Rolle 6-11 225 C/F junior

Shawn Oliverson 6-10 250 C/F sophomore

Tech has enjoyed a bit of a Canadian pipeline with two players from up north on the roster and a third stashed away at Salt Lake City College. Two Bulldog high school signees from last year had academic problems and were placed in the junior college ranks. Kerry Rupp also has a transfer from the Ivy League (Cornell) in Shawn Oliverson.

What Else

Tech's team scoring has dropped into the 50s per game since Cooper's departure. San Jose State will be going from facing a high-scoring team in New Mexico State to one more based on deliberate play. Defensive patience may be a key.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Mexico State wins 89-81

It was a remake of the film "Groundhog Day" -- if that isn't doubly confusing -- as New Mexico State triumphed again in the late going to win 89-81.

In the previous January 5th game between these two teams which NMSU won 75-73, we wrote "Well, this one was a proverbial nailbiter but New Mexico State converted at the end and San Jose State didn't..."

With 3:44 remaining in this game, the Aggies and Spartans were tied at 77. Jahmar Young missed the front end of a one-and-one but 22 seconds later Jonathan Gibson nailed both his free throws. At the 2:04 mark, Troy Gillenwater made one of two at the foul line giving his team a three point lead. San Jose State was missing shots and not careful with the ball during these sequences. A Gibson three-pointer then made it 83-77 and the Aggies closed it out from there.

Adrian Oliver led San Jose with 28 points. Jahmar Young topped New Mexico State with 32 and Troy Gillenwater contributed 19.

NMSU shot 49% for the game, including 8-17 on three-pointers and 25-32 from the foul line. San Jose State swamped the Aggies on the boards, 42-27, including 20 on the offensive end. But the Spartans committed 21 turnovers to just 12 from New Mexico State.

The second half began pretty much like the first with New Mexico State steadily extending the lead. But San Jose State fought back. It was 68-63 when Mac Peterson hit hit second trey of the half, making it a two point deficit. Oliver hit Tim Pierce with a nifty pass for a layup to tie the game at 68 with 7:42 remaining.

Chris Oakes followed with a pass inside to Pierce for another layup, giving SJSU a 70-68 lead. San Jose State had a five point lead with five minutes to play

At the half, it was 43-38 in favor of the Aggies. Oliver scored 19 (5-8 from the floor, 9-10 at the foul line) in the initial 20 minutes.

The Spartans had 13 turnovers at the half to nine for New Mexico State. At times, it appeared the ball was more a greased pig or a hot biscuit than a sphere of synthetic leather.

SJSU out-rebounded New Mexico State 15-10.

Two WAC items

You have to love the opening of Daniel Lyght's game report in today's Fresno Bee. Well, maybe not if you're associated with Fresno State basketball:

Nonconference game allows Fresno State freshmen their chance.
Daniel Lyght
The Fresno Bee
January 29, 2009

The kiss cam told it all Wednesday night. With 8 minutes left to play, the cameras scanned the crowd looking for smooching couples. They found an older pair.

The female was reading a book.

Fresno State (9-12) waltzed to an easy, unentertaining 81-63 win against Houston Baptist on Wednesday at Save Mart Center as several Bulldogs freshmen registered career numbers. The Bulldogs were led by freshman Mychal Ladd, who tallied three career-highs: 22 points, three steals, and 10 rebounds...
Now, was this couple smooching while the lady also was reading a book? We're confused but, admittedly, it wouldn't be the first time in matters amore.


Boy, what's gotten into the WAC team beat reporters? Nick Jezierny spells it out in his Boise State - Idaho game preview with a classic final line:

Daily Debate: Broncos-Vandals rivalry matters again
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman

...Excitement around both of these teams has been lacking. For Idaho, it's understandable as the program hasn't had a winning season since 1998-99 and has struggled with single-digit win totals six times since.

The lack of a buzz over the Broncos makes less sense. They won the WAC Tournament last season and are again competing for a title and a postseason berth. They have won 39 of their past 53 games and are on their way to a third consecutive winning season.

Somehow, that hasn't been good enough to attract fans and interest to Taco Bell Arena, where the average crowd turnout is only 3,032 this season. Bronco Nation gets more excited about a soft verbal commitment in football than a swished 3-pointer in basketball...
We'll venture a semi-educated guess: other than with Utah State, football is more popular than roundball in the cities and surroundings of the WAC teams. But admittedly, we're not sure what we are measuring as it encompasses more than just attendance.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One more thing...

Piggybacking on yesterday's post about SJSU men's basketball academics and Tim Pierce's expected summer graduation, we're back with another issue worth highlighting. We came across this in a recent issue of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger newspaper. It 's the opening paragraphs of a laudatory article on Southern Mississippi senior backcourter Craig Craft and details how well his final season is going:

"Southern Miss guard Craig Craft has always been known for his 3-point shooting, but the senior has become a well-rounded player as USM heads into the heart of Conference USA competition.

Craft has averaged 20.3 points over the last three games and is USM's second-leading rebounder on the season (5.7 rpg) going into tonight's home game against Marshall (9-10, 2-3 C-USA).

It's been a tough road at times for the low-key player, one coach Larry Eustachy says he once tried to run off because he didn't think Craft fit into his plans..."
Well, Eustachy deserves some credit for his honesty but...

And why was the sports reporter so casually unengaged after hearing that last line?

Now granted, we are not now nor have we ever been a college sports coach but we absolutely understand winning, losing and creating a positive cash flow for the program are the metrics used in determining coaching tenure.

But while recruiting Craft, did Larry Eustachy enter this young man's living room and, among other things, tell him in front of his parents "By the way, I will make life miserable for you, enough so that you will quit, if your potential doesn't pan out at the pace I expect"?

It doesn't take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows on that one.

What a crass and cold-blooded calculation, a one-way 'what have you done for me lately' relationship minus an iota of concern for the player as a student or as a person.

It's a business tactic some coaches choose to employ but thankfully many do not.

The positive in all this is that San Jose State men's basketball operates differently, buttressed by an uncommon set of values. Coach Nessman has not and will not run any player off due to a slower-than-expected player contribution or even a determination that so-and-so is not a WAC-level talent. He sees recruiting as a two-way commitment and even kept this promise with student-athletes he inherited when he came aboard in 2005, regardless of any effect on the won-loss record. This conviction is another example of a college athletics pledge that receives zero attention in the media, let alone on any message boards, when it should be lauded as a 'best practices' benchmark.

It's something we as fans should strongly support and sustain, never wavering in our commitment.

San Jose State versus New Mexico State on Thursday

San Jose State hits the road, starting with a Thursday night game in Las Cruces against New Mexico State. The Aggies are one of the most athletic teams in the WAC with starters Jarmar Young, Jonathan Gibson and Wendell McKines each more than a handful to defend.

Young and Gibson need to be played closely as both are long range shooters but each can also dribble-drive with the best. McKines has increased both his shooting range and his ball skills.

A possible wild card is 6-8 freshman Troy Gillenwater, another good athlete who has been up-and-down in his initial season but has been coming on of late.

Winning or losing is usually determined by how well the Aggies play together -- creating for each other and making that extra pass for a more open shot.

These two teams met on January 5 and the Aggies converted more plays at then end.

San Jose State falls 75-73 to New Mexico State

Well, this one was a proverbial nailbiter but New Mexico State converted at the end and San Jose State didn't.

Like with Louisiana Tech on Tuesday, the Spartans were behind late in the second half, trailing 72-67 with 3:12 remaining.

Justin Graham tallied two free throws to cut the Aggies lead to three.

Aggie Jahmar Young was subsequently whistled for a charge on his dribble-drive layup attempt and SJSU got possession.

Graham hit C.J. Webster inside for a layup at the 2:25 mark. That made the score 72-71.

Jonathan Gibson missed a top of the key trey attempt and NMSU was called for an over-the-back foul on the rebound. Webster hit both free throws to put the Spartans ahead 73-72 with 1:58 showing.

NMSU center Hamidu Rahman then missed inside and SJSU rebounded but Adrian Oliver subsequently missed a jumper with 49 seconds remaining.

Backcourter Jonathan Gibson was then fouled by Graham on a drive to the basket and notched one of two free throws to tie the score at 73.

Graham nabbed Gibson's errant second attempt but he then missed on a dribble-drive to the hoop at the 11 second mark and the Aggies rebounded.

Young missed a 10-foot jumper for NMSU but Rahman grabbed the rebound and was fouled attempting a putback with 2.7 seconds on the clock. He nailed both free throws putting the Aggies up by two, 75-73.

A long Spartan in-bounds pass was tipped away in the right frontcourt with 0.8 showing. Adrian Oliver received the next in-bounds pass, turned and fired from the right corner but the shot hit the rim and missed.

At halftime, San Jose State had a 39-37 lead. Oliver enjoyed a pair of nice drives to the basket in the first 20 minutes that cut through the Aggie defenders like, well, that ol' knife through butter.

For the game, C.J. Webster was dominant in the paint and led SJSU with 22 points on 10-14 shooting from the floor. Oliver scored 15 on an off-shooting night for him and Graham supplied 12. Tim Pierce led the Spartans with 10 boards.

Ex-Richmond High star Wendell McKines led NMSU with 21 points and also topped the Aggies in rebounding with eight. Young finished with 17 points on 8-18 shooting overall. Rahman with 13 points, seven boards (four on the offensive end) and three assists exceeded his seasonal averages -- all in 28 minutes of play.

The teams were fairly close in shooting but the Aggies sank four more treys than San Jose State. The Spartans nailed six more free throws than did NMSU. SJSU won the rebounding battle 38-30.

Season to date

Jan 03 @ Fresno State 79-66 (W)
Jan 05 @ San Jose State 75 - 73 (W)
Jan 08 Nevada 71-79 (L) OT
Jan 10 Utah State 67-77 (L)
Jan 15 Idaho 74-71 (W)
Jan 22 @ Boise State 84-87 (L)
Jan 24 @ Idaho 57-67 (L)

The expected NMSU starting five

C Hamidu Rahman 6-11 freshman 7.8 ppg., 4.6 rpg.
F Wendell McKines 6-6 sophomore 12.9 ppg., 8.9 rpg.
G Jahmar Young 6-5 sophomore 17.2 ppg., 3.9 rpg.
G Jonathan Gibson 6-1 junior 15.6 ppg., 2.0 rpg.
G Hernst Laroche 6-5 sophomore 4.5 ppg., 2.2 rpg., 4.5 apg.

-- He is a redshirt freshman with the expected ups-and-downs of an initial season. He's massive with somewhat limited mobility but can overpower those lacking close to equal his weight/strength.

-- One of the quickest jumpers at the college level, he's good for a couple of spectacular dunks and other plays a game. His numbers this season indicate better ball skills and more range to his shot.

-- He is the leading Aggie candidate for WAC All-League honors. Currently at 45% shooting overall and 43% from three-point range, Young is the top creator on offense and has also passed for 64 assists.

Gibson -- Gibson has been disciplined a couple of times this season -- something incongruent with an upperclassman who should be the leader on the team as a junior and as the most veteran player. His shooting numbers are about six percentage points below Young's.

-- Call this kid the leading candidiate for the WAC Surprise of the Season as he currently leads in assist/turnover ratio (2.90)

Off the bench

Troy Gillenwater -- He started early on but has been coming off the bench of late. Count him as another solid freshman, he's shooting and rebounding well and leads the team in blocked shots. Gillenwater has been positioned at center at times and usually can hold his own if he isn't up against some physical behemoth.

Terrance Joyner
-- A newly eligible freshman, he's more a scorer than a true point but it's his creative ability that will pay dividends down the road.

Gordo Castillo
-- Call him the NMSU designated shooter.

The complete NMSU roster (by position)

Tray Britt G 6-3 195 Jr.
Jahmar Young G 6-4 160 So.
Hernst Laroche G 6-1 170 Fr.
Makhtar Diop G 6-0 165 Fr.
Jonathan Gibson G 6-2 180 Jr.
Terrance Joyner G 6-2 175 Fr.
Aaron Castillo G 6-4 180 So

Kelly Merker F 6-4 190 Sr.
Robert Lumpkins F 6-6 190 So.
Wendell McKines F 6-6 224 So.
Troy Gillenwater F 6-8 230 Fr.
Tyrone Watson F 6-5 220 Fr.

Hamidu Rahman C 7-0 240 Fr.
Chris Gabriel C 6-11 240 Fr.

What Else

From a recent blog post by Jason Groves, the beat reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News:

This is just a thought and perhaps its too late in the game to shake the lineup up, but I think they need to do something. I think Wendell has shown an improved abilty to put the ball on the floor and knock down an occasional jumper, so why not start him at the small forward and get Gillenwater into the starting lineup at his natural position, the four with Rahman at the center.

So who gets left out? I hate to say it because I like watching him play, but I think Gibson comes off the bench. I think he would bring instant offense and athleticism to the lineup and J.Y. would play the two, which would fit his stature and game. Justin Hawkins had two inches on Jahmar as the small forward last year. And just because Gibson would be coming off the bench, he would probably get starters minutes anyway because the Aggies play small a lot, but if Gillenwater continues to rebound like the other night and with Wendell at the three, the Aggies wouldn't get outrebounded at those two spots at least.

Gibson's role is expanded this year and it doesn't seem like he has made the necessary adjustments. He played within himself in a win against Idaho and then reverted back to his old self at Boise. We shall see what he does tonight

Plus, this is from Sam Wasson who runs a NMSU fan site:

"The Aggie men's basketball team lost to Idaho last night f67-57 or just the third time ever. The Aggies trailed by as many as eight points in the first half but an 8-2 run to end the half pulled them to within two points. In the second half Idaho scored the first four points to go up by six points. The Aggies would take their first lead of the second half at the 12:00 mark and held their last leave at the 6:35 mark. On the next Idaho possession Mac Hopson scored and was fouled and then Troy Gillenwater was called for a technical foul. We thought that might have been a major turning point in the game from a score standpoint, it gave Idaho three free throws. Hopson missed two of three and Idaho went up by just one point at 55-54. At that point the Aggies were still very much in the game but were unable to get anything to fall down the stretch as they scored just three points in the final 5:31 of the game. The Aggies missed two front ends of one-and-ones, one when the Aggies were down three at 57-54 and one when the Aggies were down 61-57.

...Any time the Aggies score in the 50s, it's going to be a toss-up on whether they win or not. This is Aggie squad is a team that likes to score in the 70s and 80s, in fact they lead the league in scoring in WAC games at almost 80 points per game.

The Aggies will have to regroup with San Jose State coming in on Thursday night followed by Hawai'i on Saturday night. There are still over half the league games left to play and anything can happen, however, it appears that with the way Nevada and Utah State are playing right now, it's a race for the 3-seed in the WAC tournament between Boise State, Idaho, New Mexico State and San Jose State. As it shapes up right now Boise State and Idaho both hold tie-breakers over the Aggies, while the Aggies hold the tiebreaker over SJSU (via their head to head win, which they can solidify with a season sweep on Thursday night)."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A few more thoughts

Reading the Dave Newhouse-written article on Tim Pierce that we sent out to you earlier and Tim's projected summer graduation date with a degree in sociology got us to thinking.

This will be a tremendous accomplishment on Tim's part, one that will rightly make his family and friends extremely proud. It's an obvious and dramatic outgrowth of his personal maturation as the article indicated. The hard work Tim has and is putting in plus the encouragement and help his family and friends have provided should be front and center in any campaign about what can be accomplished through diligence.

There is another element to all this that we also wish to highlight -- a factor still all too often missing in college athletics and one that deserves much greater exposure.

That is, San Jose State athletics takes academics seriously -- an emphasis absolutely worthy of our appreciation.

It's sad to say but this wasn't always true.

But Tom Bowen's arrival brought the implementation of change -- for the better. Graduating student-athletes is now the norm, the expected at SJSU, not the aberration.

We also offer praise to Assistant AD for Academic Services Eileen Daley and her staff for their efforts in assisting Spartan student-athletes.

There unfortunately remains coaches throughout the country who offer the correct bromides in public but then either provide no followup or just don't care what happens to the charges in their care as long as performance on the field, on the court, on the diamond and so on is taking place.

Not here.

There is commitment AND followthrough at San Jose State.

We know from experience that this isn't prime material for message boards. The only time academics-related posts appear on such entities is when there is failing and the threat of or the actuality of scholarship reductions loom. THEN it's topic one. But that's because a satisfactory win-loss record is in danger.

This is because the majority of fans of college athletics across the country don't care -- and this is not a shot at those of you who do. We are not playing to the crowd here but most of the Spartan fans we interact with would not accept a winning program in any sport at San Jose State if it meant lousy academics -- an abusing and discarding of young men and women upon completion of eligibility and the bringing in of new "bodies" if you will.

Closer to 'home' so to speak, accolades deservedly go to Coach George Nessman and his assistants, Donald Williams, Brent Davis, Gary Stepan and Tim Marrion for their respective efforts, attention and emphasis towards academics.

The APR (Academic Progress Rate) rate for men's basketball this fall was 1000. The historical four-year average is now over 900 (901) which removes SJSU from the APR historical penalty segment. The period of time measured covers the first three years of the tenure of Coach Nessman and his staff and the last year of the previous coaching regime. With the coming spring release of numbers by the NCAA, the anticipation is that the Spartan men's basketball APR will be even higher as the measurement time will solely be the period of Coach Nessman and his staff and the 'contributions' of the past will finally be null and void.

Let's see how many -- if any -- message board posts cover this news when those results are published in the spring. Hint: we're not going to run out and purchase a fancy calculator in order to tabulate the results.

In winding this up, to have Tim Pierce be able to return to his home as a college graduate and be ready and able to contribute to his community is a Final Four moment to us. We offer an early congratulations to Tim and to everyone who contributed to his evolution.

There's a tendency to forget that college athletics is not all about us. We offer a hearty thanks to everyone involved for finally making the the college experience for San Jose State student-athletes what it should be and what it should have been all along.

It is most welcome.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Caught In The Stands

We're back with another edition of Caught In The Stands from last night's game against Fresno State.

Here are Don (Bozar) Starks and son Brian at halftime not quite knowing how to react to a 43-29 Spartan lead.

San Jose State win 85-79

Well, do you like Bulldogs done medium? Maybe Walt McPherson broiled? Stewed, or probably stewing is more appropriate? Do you want that with a double dip?

San Jose State completed a season sweep of Fresno State tonight with an 85-79 victory over the visiting 'Dogs. There definitely was an AO sighting as Adrian Oliver paced the Spartans with 29 points. He also contributed five assists. Robert Owens introduced himself handsomely to Fresno State by adding 17 points, on 6-12 shooting.

Three Spartans came close to having double figures in rebounding: Chris Oakes grabbed nine while C.J. Webster and Tim Pierce nabbed eight apiece.

SJSU started out strong, despite early foul trouble as Justin Graham incurred his second whistle with 16:03 left in the initial half. Oliver began the game en fuego with three made jumper in the first five minutes -- two on very good looks at the basket and the third on a difficult fadeaway from the right side.

At the 15:00 mark, San Jose State led 11-6.

With 7:35 showing, the lead had grown to 12, 29-17, as the Spartans were shooting 12-22 overall to Fresno State's 6-18.

SJSU enjoyed a 43-29 lead at the half as Oliver scored 16 and Owens 11. As a team, SJSU shot 44% in the opening 20 minutes (16-36) with 10 assists on those 16 baskets. San Jose also had a collective 21 rebounds and just five turnovers.

Fresno State made it big run opening the second half and it consisted primarily of an attack of the trey bombs. Sylvester Seay, Paul George and even freshman Bryce Cartwright took turns from long range. The Bulldog comeback coincided with five Spartan turnovers. FSU kept creeping closer until a Dwight O'Neill jumper in the lane tied the score at 57 with 8:28 remaining.

But San Jose fought back as it was C.J. Webster front and center.

Webster scored on a dunk while Fresno followed with an errant pass for a turnover. Sandwiched around a Sylvester Seay free throw, Webster twice fed Owens for three-pointers and also tossed a pass to Oakes for a layup after grabbing the rebound but before he landed on the ground.

But Fresno State fought back and closed the lead but with 45.9 seconds remaining, the Bulldogs were assessed a technical for calling a timeout when none were available.


*** San Jose State pulverized Fresno on the boards by a 41-25 differential.

*** Whatever happened to the Red Wave? It was more like a mute puddle tonight?

San Jose State

Oliver 10-17 7-7 29
Owens 6-12 1-1 17
Oakes 4-6 3-4 11
Pierce 4-10 1-2 10
C. Webster 4-14 0-2 8
Graham 2-3 4-7 8
Peterson 0-2 2-2 2
Thomas 0-0 0-0 0
Caballero 0-0 0-0 0

Totals 30-64 7-22 18-25

Three-point field goals: Fresno State 12-27 (Golubovic 1-2, George 4-9, Seay 2-5, Cartwright 2-4, O’Neil 3-6, Ladd 0-1), San Jose State 7-22 (Pierce 1-5, Oliver 2-6, Owens 4-10, Peterson 0-1)

Rebounds: Fresno State 25 (Seay 12), San Jose State 41 (C. Webster 9)
Assists: Fresno State 19 (George 6), San Jose State 18 (Oliver 5)

Fouled out: none
Technical fouls: Fresno State bench
Total fouls: Fresno State 20, San Jose State 14

Points in the paint: SJSU 32, Fresno 26
Points off turnovers: Fresno 16, SJSU 13
2nd chance points: SJSU 15, Fresno 6
Fast break points: SJSU 4, Fresno 4
Bench points: SJSU 19, Fresno 2

Friday, January 23, 2009

SJSU - Fresno St. on Saturday night

We love dogs. We mean really love 'em, bulldogs among them. But not Bulldogs, and you know why.

So them Raisintown Bulldogs are coming to Walt McPherson Court Saturday night. But one difference from the earlier SJSU - FSU contest is that Steve Cleveland's squad is coming off its first WAC win, having taken down Louisiana Tech on Thursday.

'Dogs drop guard, win
One-game suspension of O'Neil doesn't cost a victory.
Daniel Lyght
The Fresno Bee

Louisiana Tech had Dwight O'Neil where it wanted him during Thursday night's game at the Save Mart Center - in jeans and a letterman-style jacket on the bench.

Fresno State's starting point guard was suspended for the game for inappropriate behavior during and after Fresno State's previous game at Nevada.

The Bulldogs did just fine without him, however. Freshman Bryce Cartwright filled in at point guard and the Bulldogs thumped Louisiana Tech 63-46 at the Save Mart Center, snapping their four-game losing streak.

"I know we've been waiting for a while for a win in league," coach Steve Cleveland said. "We had some opportunities [in past games] but it feels good to get a win."

Cleveland said O'Neil was remorseful and will play against San Jose State on Saturday. He explained in part why O'Neil, the team's lone senior and third-leading scorer, was suspended. O'Neil was not made available to the media.

"You need to be a good teammate, you need to conduct yourself in a manner that exhibits good sportsmanship and that didn't happen after that game," Cleveland said. "It's not behavior that's conducive to anyone but certainly when you're a fifth-year senior, and captain, there is an expectation that is much higher."

In O'Neil's absence, Cartwright scored 12 points and dished out four assists, with four turnovers, as he successfully got the Bulldogs into their half-court sets and also conducted transition breaks well.

"He got some opportunities in transition and hit big shots," Cleveland said. "He has demonstrated during the year that he can do that. His Achilles' heel is you have to get him in the mode of moving his feet defensively. Sometimes he gets soft and wanders as freshmen sometimes do. But he distributed the ball and played with confidence."

That doesn't mean O'Neil is out as starting point guard, though.

"Yes, I think there is going to be more opportunities for Dwight to play his natural position [wing]," Cleveland said. "But I also know how this game goes. With freshmen you get some inconsistencies. ... Dwight will continue to have two roles on this team, but it's always nice if a freshman point guard can come in and give you those kinds of minutes."

Cartwright's solid play helped Fresno State not only break a losing streak but a trend of missed opportunities.

First, the Bulldogs lost to San Jose State at home in an overtime game they had all but won in regulation. The Bulldogs then played Utah State and Nevada on the road, with opportunities to win late in both of those games.

The Bulldogs came out with the same energy as their previous road games, though, made confidence-building baskets early and played opportunistic defense. Execution against the half-court trap helped them to a 10-0 run early and three straight steals and a Mychal Ladd reverse layup in transition sparked a 17-6 run later in the first half that gave Fresno State a 36-29 lead.

Tech's Jamel Guyton, who led all scorers with 17 points, hit five 3s in the first half, but was 0 for 4 in the second half. Kyle Gibson, Tech's leading scorer with 15.4 points per game heading into Thursday, scored six points. Tech was held to 14 second-half points, a Save Mart Center record low. Tech missed every second-half 3-pointer and shot 18.8% in the half.

The Bulldogs offense struggled to open the second half, failing to score a field goal for the first 5:03. But a 17-2 run would seal it for the Bulldogs.

"To win our first [conference] game at home it means a lot to us," Ned Golubovic said. "Our confidence is back and our emotions ... We're a young team and emotion's a big part of our game."

In that January 10th 71-68 Spartan victory in Fresno, SJSU put up 14 more shots than Fresno State, 69 to 55.

Neither team did well from long distance. San Jose State shot 2-16, the Bulldogs 6-26 but FSU also went just 8-18 from the foul line.

The Spartans also out-boarded the Bulldogs 44-35, with 16 of the 44 being of the offensive variety. Fresno State had matched 2008-2009 opponents rebound for rebound up to then.

And for some inexplicable reason or reasons, the Bulldogs went solely long distance in the overtime period, attempting seven trey attempts and misfiring on every one.

Here's our writeup from that game:

Spartans win 71-68 in overtime

It was the tale of two halves -- a high-scoring first one and a low-scoring second -- this despite the same two teams participating. The Spartans took a while but closed a nine point deficit at the half to a single possession with seven minutes left. The battle continued to the end and it was a tie -- 63-63 -- when the buzzer sounded.

Overtime commenced and both Dwight O'Neill and Sylvester Seay then missed on Fresno shot attempts. Mac Peterson scored on a layup for SJSU, benefiting from a Justin Graham assist.

Seay followed with a runner to tie the game back up.

Peterson missed the next shot but then so did Bulldog Mychal Ladd. After SJSU grabbed the rebound, Seay stole it and fed Paul George for a dunk.

With 1:55 on the clock, Graham was fouled and he put down both free throws to knot the score once more.

FSU's Bryce Cartwright then missed a trey attempt but C.J. Webster also subsequently misfired inside and Dwight O'Neill rebounded.

He was fouled, making the first but missing the second, giving the Bulldogs a one point lead.

San Jose State came down and Webster was fouled with 34 seconds left. He made both free throws to give the Spartans a one point margin.

O'Neill subsequently tried a three-pointer but fired an air ball. Spartan center Chris Oakes grabbed the ball, was fouled and netted both his free throws, extending the SJSU lead to three.

FSU brought the ball down and Seay and O'Neill both misfired on three-point attempts.

To get to the extra period, Webster nailed two free throws with 15.2 seconds left in the game to cut the Fresno lead to two, 62-60. Ladd was then fouled -- he missed his first shot and made the second, giving the home team a three-point margin.

SJSU-er Graham was fouled with a 1-and-1 awaiting him. He made the first, missed the second but Webster grabbed the offensive rebound and scored to even the game. O'Neill missed a shot near the buzzer and it meant five more minutes of play.

Webster led the Spartans with 23 points, followed by Chris Oakes with 14, Robert Owens 13 and Justin Graham 11 points.

DeShawn Wright and Robert Owens were in the SJSU starting lineup replacing the injured and unable to play Tim Pierce and Adrian Oliver.

It was 44-35 at the half. With three minutes gone, both teams had nine points. Later on, it was 15-12 San Jose State, with the Spartans having connected on seven of their first 10 shots. At the 10:46 mark, it was 19 points apiece. Fresno State then gradually began pulling away and the initial half end with the nine point Bulldog lead.

Fresno State WAC Schedule To Date

1/03/09 vs. New Mexico State L, 79-66
1/10/09 vs. San Jose State L, 71-68 (OT)
1/15/09 at Utah State L, 65-61
1/17/09 at Nevada L, 65-60
1/22/09 vs. Louisiana Tech W, 63-46

The Fresno State Starting Five

Nedeljko Golubovic 6-8 230 - He is averaging 7.6 ppg. and 4.7 rebounds contest. His shooting percentage is down a bit from last season and he's settled in as the fifth shooting option on the team. It appears he would be more comfortable swinging between the corner spot and possibly a little time at the wing but Fresno needs him inside as often as possible.

Sylvester Seay 6-9 215 - An Arizona State transfer, he's another guy who can and likes to play both out and in the paint but his duties this season by necessity have generally put him closer to the basket. He's at 13.1 ppg. and 4.9 rpg. and he's the top Bulldog shotblocker.

Paul George 6-7 185 - He leads the team in scoring at 15.3 ppg., in rebounding with 7.1 caroms a contest and in steals. His height makes him an ideal wing -- tall enough to get good looks and quick enough to dribble-drive. There's NBA written all over this kid with continued development.

Dwight O'Neil
6-3 190 - The lone Bulldog senior, he's at 12.7 ppg. and 4.9 boards each time out and he leads the squad in 80 assists. His shooting has been less than desired -- 41% and 29% respectively -- but he's still a dangerous scorer and has taken a great deal of pressure off his freshman point teammate.

Bryce Cartwright 5-11 160 - He's contributed more than expected, shooting fairly well but more so in compiling a solid assist-to-turnover ratio.

The Bulldog Bench

Mychal Ladd
6-5 175 - Take him in any athletic competition as he is a primo athlete. Ladd is scoring 9.5 ppg. and nabbing 3.5 rpg. while shooting 51% from the floor. At 89%, he is also the best free throw shooter on the team. Ladd is a sometimes starter and may be in the opening quintet on Saturday.

Brian Seals 6-8 215 - Defense and rebounding is what you get from him.

Brandon Webster 6-10 275 - He's a cousin to C.J. Webster and has enjoyed productive moments against SJSU.

Fresno State leads the WAC in blocked shot with 6+ a game. Sylvester Seay leads the squad with 2 shotblocks a matchup.

*** The Bulldogs are second in steal per contest with a 7+ average.

*** Paul George leads the Dogs with 14.6 ppg. and 7.2 rebounds a contest in WAC play.

*** Dwight O'Neill tops the conference with 6.5 asists each time out.

The Bulldog Roster (by position, alphabetically)

Jordan Ambers G 5-11 175 junior
Bryce Cartwright G 5-11 160 freshman
Paul George G 6-7 185 freshman
Myles Green G 5-10 180 sophomore
Taylor Kelly G 6-3 200 freshman
Mychal Ladd G 6-5 175 freshman
Dwight O'Neil G 6-3 190 senior
Brandon Sperling G 6-4 180 freshman

Nedeljko Golubovic F 6-8 230sophomore
Justin Johnson F 6-7 185 freshman
Brian Seals F 6-8 215 junior
Sylvester Seay F 6-9 215 junior

Brandon Webster C 6-10 275 sophomore


Sylvester Seay scored 32 points against Utah State in a 65-61 Bulldog loss to the Aggies. Afterwards, he let go with this bulletin board fodder quote: “You’re going to have problems [guarding] me before I have problems with you. Nobody could guard me. It's not about somebody guarding me, it's about making my shots. If I make my shots I can do that every game. And as far as [Wilkinson] guarding me, no, he couldn't."

Actually, Seay went 11-24 shooting that night -- a not exactly 'en fuego' unstoppable ratio.

Hey wait a minute

When is a game you watched not the game you watched?

For us, that phenomenon took place last night.

For example:

*** We were seduced by Utah State's crisp passing and ultra-unselfish offensive play -- yet both squads totaled 14 assists at game's end.

*** Utah State came into the game shooting 51% on the season -- 47% in WAC play -- and appeared to be performing decently in that category but the Spartans held the Aggies to 37.9% shooting while going 47% on the evening themselves.

*** We would had offered a dinner at Flames (how that's for a commercial plug tie-in?) to anyone who could prove to us that Utah State didn't win the rebounding battle...and yet Utah State got out-rebounded 36-28 by SJSU.

Does USU sprinkle some sort of beguilement 'dust' into the atmosphere prior to games? Just what is the allure we fell for?

We truly didn't know what to expect Thursday night as the statistics, the season and conference records, the multiple glowing writeups indicated T-Rex, Logan-style, was heading to Walt McPherson Court.

And yet it was a game that could have been won.

But couldas, wouldas, shouldas never find their way into the official record book. Every play truly counts during a game but it was the short early second half stretch of Spartan offensive miscues, juxtaposed with Utah State -- Tyler Newbold in particular -- finding nothing but net on his jumpers, that proved to be the difference.

Now it's Fresno State Saturday evening.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Spartans fall 62-58

A summary of tonight's game is somewhat difficult to compose because there were just a couple of elements that stood out. After a misfiring beginning, Aggie Gary Wilkinson came on and resonated with consistent scoring all night, finishing with 25 points. It did take him 19 shots to reach that total but it appeared he primarily got the shots he and Coach Stew Morrill wanted.

And we counted but one run in the game, it taking place soon after the second half. Utah State took advantage of a quick bevy of San Jose State turnovers and extended a small lead into a double digit one and remained ahead the rest of the game. During this time, Utah State's Tyler Newbold seemingly set up shop in the right corner and nailed two wide open three-pointers, combined with another Aggie deuce. But Newbold wasn't quite done as he also then totaled another trey along with a following two-pointer -- this after being relatively quiet earlier in the contest.

A Wilkinson dunk at the 15:12 mark gave Utah State a 42-30 lead. With 4:40 showing, USU was ahead 55-46.

With less than a minute to go, Aggie point Jared Quayle (who had a tough time at the foul line going 4-7) missed a free throw and Justin Graham scored on a layup to cut the deficit to six, 58-52, with 48.7 seconds on the clock.

Tai Wesley was fouled but he also missed a shot at the charity stripe and Graham nailed another layup plus an and/one free throw at the other end to make it 58-55 with 35.5 seconds left.

But Quayle came through at the 31.1 mark when fouled again as he nailed both foul shot attempts to provide breathing room for the Aggies.

SJSU's Robert Owens then put down a trey to cut the lead back to two, 60-58.

After a Utah State time out, Tyler Newbold was fouled with 22.1 seconds remaining and missed both attempts (he's a 73% shooter for the season).

Trailing by two, Graham brought the ball down for San Jose State, penetrated on a dribble-drive but his shot rolled around the rim and out. Utah State rebounded and eventually Stavon Williams was fouled and nailed both his foul shots to put the game away.

Chris Oakes worked hard all evening and collected yet another double-double, this one consisting of 11 points and 13 rebounds. He also blocked a pair of shots and passed for two assists.

The Spartans shot 47% for the night to 38% for the Aggies. USU entered the game shooting 51% for the season, 48% in WAC play. San Jose State's seasonal shooting numbers: 44% and 42% respectively to date.

SJSU also won the rebounding battle 36-28 but the breakdown was a bit wacky as the Spartans grabbed nine offensive and 27 defensive boards. Utah State's rebounding numbers were 14 apiece.

San Jose State also scored better in the paint, 34 to 22.

However, the Aggies had but four turnovers to 12 for SJSU and Utah State generated 18 points from these miscues.

Do note Quayle's bountiful line: 13 points, six boards, four steals, four assists and zero turnovers. We were joking somewhat with the line about him being the most valuable Aggie but...

San Jose State began the game with crisp offensive ballhandling and passing, leading to solid shooting. The Spartans led 6-2, 7-4 and 12-8, the latter at the 11:03 mark of the opening 20 minutes.

A Wilkinson three-pointer put Utah State up 21-18, giving the Aggies their first lead.

At the half, USU led 27-24, with Wilkinson totaling 14 points. The biggest lead for Morrill's team was five while SJSU's largest advantage was four points.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Utah State here Thursday night

If you listen to Coach Stew Morrill long enough, he'll have you in tears and donating dollars so as to assist his itty bitty band of ballers in their quest to be able to compete in the big ol' world of college basketball. That is, if he isn't lamenting how lucky/fortunate/terrible his team has been and that some dreadful fate awaits them in their next game. To use a pair of animal metaphors, Morrill has perfected crying wolf while being crazy like a fox.

Of course, the reality is that Utah State has been one of the foremost rulers of the roost -- along with Nevada -- in the Western Athletic Conference. This season, the Aggies are at the top by themselves with a 12-game winning streak, a 17-1 overall record and an undefeated record (5-0) in conference play. And all this minus scorer deluxe Jaycee Carroll who graduated and is now is using his non-stop motor playing in Italy.

Utah State is coming off a 79-65 home win against Boise State. Power forward Tai Wesley -- who elbowed C.J. Webster very early in last season's game at Walt McPherson Court and got tossed -- scored 28 points, grabbed eight boards, nabbed five steals and passed for four assists. The Aggies committed just nine turnovers. Some Aggie fans were concerned about the subpar play of probable WAC most valuable player Gary Wilkinson in this game but a 14-point victory over a tough opponent leaves one wondering just what would satisfy the Logan fan base? Plundering and pillaging in every game?

WAC Play To Date

1/05/09 Idaho W 70-61
1/08/09 @ Louisiana Tech W 50-37
1/10/09 @ New Mexico State W 77-67
1/15/09 Fresno State W 65-61
1/17-09 Boise State W 79-65

The Aggie Starting Five

6-9 Gary Wilkinson -- There aren't many better stories than that of Wilkinson who dropped out of high school early, accomplished and advanced nothing for a couple of years until he became an LDS member and later walked-on with the Salt Lake City College men's basketball team. He eventually became a junior college All-America, stayed in state to play D-1 and is the odds-on favorite to win the WAC Player of The Year honor. Wilkinson has gone through a subpar (for him) past couple of games but he's at 16.7 ppg. and 7.8 rebounds a contest while shooting 61% from the floor. He's not always physical in the paint but generally plays smart with his positioning.

6-7 Tai Wesley -- He's sort of the team enforcer who can and will play physical but sometimes gets over enthusiastic with this aspect and commits silly fouls. He's scoring 12.7 ppg. -- 66% shooting -- along with nabbing 5.8 boards each time out but he's also a fine passer (48 assists) who leads the team with 28 steals, 16 shotblocks and 56 fouls. The latter total is almost double of the next Aggie. It's important to keep him off the offensive boards as almost 40% of his rebounds have been at that end.

6-4 Tyler Newbold -- We tought Newbold would have a breakout season as a scorer with Carroll gone but he's at 9.6 ppg. (43% from the floor, 37% on threes). However, he's the best Aggie defender and also has compiled a fantastic 57/13 assist-to-turnover ratio and he's just a sophomore.

6-3 Pooh Williams -- He's another strong defender whose scoring average isn't much (5.2 ppg.) but he is shooting .475% overall. His three-point shooting and free throw percentage number are subpar.

6-1 Jared Quayle -- This may draw a laugh but a case can be made that Quayle is the most valuable player on this Utah State squad. Why? His 12.6 ppg. scoring average has aided in the adjustment to losing Carroll's scoring and his play at the point has provided the best production at that position is some years for the Aggies. He is shooting 48% from the floor, 38% on his threes and he is third on the USU squad in free thow attempts while making 80% of his tries. He's 56/28 in assist-to-turnover numbers despite coming out of the junior college ranks from a small Wyoming school. His 21 steals are second on the team. All together now: Jaycee who? Remarkably, Quayle's numbers in WAC play are going up -- 14.2 ppg. and 6.2 rpg. are both second on the team. The kid is rolling. We need to get Dick Cheney to take him hunting...think about it for a while.

The Bench

6-8 Matt Formisano -- He is the top fill-in for playing in the paint with some but limited scoring and rebounding prowess.

6-3 Stavon Williams -- Guard him at the three-point line and beyond as he's shooting 43% on 56 long-range shooting attempts but just 40% overall and with but 12 free throws.

5-9 Jaxon Myaer -- He played more early in the season --before Quayle came on so well -- but hasn't shot effectively and his assist-to-turnover numbers are about even.

6-7 Brady Jardine -- He was recently activated after redshirting most of the season to date because 6-10 soph Modou Niang busted a hand. Jardine is a fine athlete who will really help down the road, should provide some YouTube highlights before he is done in Logan but is in an adjustment mode at present.

As A Team On The Season

*** As a team, the Aggies are shooting 10% better than their opponents -- 51% to 41% -- and leading the nation in that category.

*** Morrill's squad is averaging 73.6 ppg. to a much lesser 59.9 for opposing teams.

*** Utah State also owns a seasonal rebounding advantage -- 35 to 26 a game.

*** Get this: the Aggies have made more free throws so far this season than their opponents have attempted -- 263 of 355 to 189 of 253.

*** It take some deep digging but three figures indicate areas of possible concern: turnovers, steals and blocked shots are about even between USU and its opponents.

The Utah State Roster (alphabetical and by position)

Skyler Halford 6-1/170 freshman guard
Deremy Geiger 5-10/165 freshman guard
Stavon Williams 6-3/180 junior guard
Jared Quayle 6-1/180 junior guard
Dominique Cooks 6-3/200 freshman guard
Tyler Newbold 6-4/200 sophomore guard
Jaxon Myaer 5-9/165 freshman guard

Brady Jardine 6-7/220 freshman guard/forward
Pooh Williams 6-3/200 sophomore guard/forward

Clint Lee 6-5/195 junior forward
Tai Wesley 6-7/240 sophomore forward
Matt Formisano 6-8/235 sophomore forward

Modou Niang 6-10/220 sophomore center (out with a busted hand)
Gary Wilkinson 6-9/240 senior center

What Else

*** This is a team that gets good looks at the basket via its complicated sets and makes half of those takes.

Players defending the Aggies generally acquire a myriad of bumps and bruises as it's pick, pick, pick time in just about every set

*** Utah State is ranked #32 in the country by the ESPN/USA TODAY Coaches poll.

*** Is this a trend or an anomaly? Counting backwards, USU had but 9 turnovers against BSU, six against Fresno State, 21 against New Mexico State and 13 versus LA TECH in the most recent series of games.

*** The Aggies have out-rebounded every WAC opponent so far this season except for Fresno State.

Last Year In San Jose

Here's our game writeup from thge last time these two teams met at Walt McPherson Court:

Spartans over the Aggies 70-67

We had us a game tonight at The Event Center with San Jose State triumphing over Utah State 70-67.

Here's how the last minute or so went down: Chris Oakes put in a layup at the 1:03 mark to make it 70-63 San Jose State. Two Kris Clark free throws then cut the lead to five, 70-65.

With 48.6 remaining, C.J. Webster missed a free throw and Aggie star Jaycee Carroll then hit a driving layup to make the score 70-67 with 38 ticks on the clock.

Jamon Hill was fouled but the Spartans again missed the foul shot and Utah State had the ball with half a minute left.

Clark, Carroll and Gary Wilkinson all fired up three-pointers but each attempt was off target and finally the ball went out of bounds off San Jose State with 3.1 seconds remaining.

After timeouts, Carroll lofted an inbounds pass from the right corner baseline but it was intercepted by Tim Pierce, who was immediately fouled.

Pierce also missed the free throw and a Carroll desperation shot from three quarters court didn't come close.

The Spartans played an efficient and productive first half and led 41-30 after the first 20 minutes. The SJSU frontcourt duo of C.J. Webster and Chris Oakes sliced and diced through, around and over the Aggies, commanding the paint.

Utah State's cause wasn't aided when forward Tai Wesley was ejected from the game at the 18:32 mark for a flagrant foul.

Carroll, who was bothered all night by Tim Pierce's height advantage and defensive play, scored just four points in the opening 11 minutes.

To provide a sense of how San Jose State dominated the first half, the Spartans led 16-9 at the 11:54 mark and Utah State had already been whistled for seven fouls up to then to just three for SJSU. A Pierce three-pointer elevated the lead to 30-17 with 7:20 remaining.

Carroll had 13 points at the half but that was matched by Pierce's 13. But to his credit, Carroll ended with 31 points on 12-22 shooting. He also led USU with eight rebounds -- quite the telling sign when a 6-2 backcourter tops his team in boardplay.

Junior college transfer Gary Wilkinson played 32 minutes but missed all five of his shots from the floor, two from long range. However, he did grab six rebounds. Wilkinson scored 15 points in the February 9 game between these two teams.

As a team, the Aggies shot an uncharacteristic 24-57 from the floor -- credit the Spartan defensive play but add an assist to Utah State's having to travel from Hawaii. SJSU out-rebounded USU 34-32 but the most telling stat involved free throws. Despite the Spartan inability to make a foul shot towards the end and also somewhat throughout the game, San Jose State went 15-28 to Utah State's 12-14 -- a foul shot differential of 14. The Spartans had earned 21 foul shots by halftime. In the February 9 earlier game between USU and San Jose State, the Aggies were 28-32 from the foul line to SJSU's 10-15.

Chris Oakes led the way for San Jose with a double-double of 21 points and 12 boards. Tim Pierce added 16, including 4-8 from long distance and C.J. Webster contributed 15 points.

One Final Note

Will there be an AO sighting on the court tomorrow night?

C.J. Webster and Mac Peterson want you

First off, C.J. Webster and Mac Peterson have something to tell you:

Utah State, on the verge of breaking into the Top 25, is here for a Thursday night game at Walt McPherson Court. They obviously and appropriately want that recognition -- can SJSU derail the Aggie Express?

Aggies close to cracking Top 25
Shawn Harrison
Herald Journal
January 20, 2009

Despite the chants of the packed Dee Glen Smith Spectrum last Saturday night, the Utah State men’s basketball team did not crack the Top 25 in either major poll Monday.

However, the Aggies (17-1, 5-0 Western Athletic Conference) did move up in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. Last week they were tied with Tennessee for 32nd. This week USU checked in at 29th.

Also, the Aggies got votes in The Associated Press poll for the first time this season. They are tied with Washington for 36th...
Go here for the remainder.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Utah State at Walt McPherson Court Thursday night

The capo di tutti capi of the Western Athletic Conference -- otherwise known as Utah State -- arrives in San Jose Thursday for a game at Walt McPherson Court. The Aggies are on a roll (17-1, 5-0 in league play) as usual despite the graduation of scoring great Jaycee Carroll. Call it reloading, not rebuilding in Logan.

Stats guru Ken Pomeroy ranks Utah State as the second most efficient D-1 team on offense in college basketball this season. The Aggies are the top shooting team in the country at 51.6%.

Here's Shawn Harrison with his most recent take on Stew Morrill's squad:

USU riding high after big victory, but still cautious
Shawn Harrison
The Herald Journal
January 19, 2009

After feeling a bit down after Thursday’s win, the Aggies were riding high again following Saturday night’s victory.

The Utah State men’s basketball team is the lone undefeated team in Western Athletic Conference play at 5-0 and have won 12 straight to improve to 17-1 overall. Aggie head coach Stew Morrill was pleased, as well, and gave his team Sunday off.

Today, however, the team returns to practice while the rest of the USU student body has the day off. The Aggies aren’t complaining, as they acknowledged after Saturday’s 79-65 win over Boise State, there is still plenty of room for improvement...
Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

More truthiness

Per Wikipedia, truthiness is a term first used in its current satirical sense by American television comedian Stephen Colbert in 2005, to describe things that a person claims to know intuitively or "from the gut" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.

With such in mind, we usually support all environmental events and causes but not this one. Every so often a recycling occurs on another San Jose State sports board.

That is, a post gets put up by Truth-less or maybe it is the CruzanKid (where has he been lately? could it be because that moniker contains more letters and therefore is more troublesome to type because it takes more time?) or really, you-know-who. It is a pretty transparent effort except, we guess, to the poster.

Apparently the past has appeared again recently.

It pleads for one of the following coaches to accept the head coach position at San Jose State: Steve Lavin, Todd Bozeman, Bob Burton and Kyle Smith. Okay, let's give each a turn in the barrel:

ESPN's Steve Lavin was removed from the head coaching spot at UCLA a while back because his rep had become such that too many of the top Southland prospects were beginning to avoid Pauley Pavilion as a homecourt. His record in his last season: 10-19, the first losing season for the Bruins in 50 years. Repeat this mantra, 'if you can't win at UCLA...'

Morgan State Coach Todd Bozeman has an 8-8 record overall this season, 3-0 in the 'power-packed' Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and, oh yes, he can recruit. Just ask Jelani Gardner, whose parents 'earned' $30,000 from having their son play at Cal when Bozeman was in charge there. That resulted in the NCAA issuing an eight-year show-cause order preventing Bozeman from coaching in college. There's more on the personal resume but we'll leave it at that.

Cal State Fullerton Coach Bob Burton (formerly at West Valley College) currently sports an 8-10 overall record, 2-4 in The Big West despite possessing guard Josh Akognon who has an even money chance of being on an NBA roster next season. His roster also has eight junior college transfers. What is this wish, a Yogi Berra-ish deja vu all over again?

St. Mary's Assistant Coach Kyle Smith has it in his contract that he will be the next St. Mary's head coach should Randy Bennett move on and should Smith decide not to follow Bennett. Note to the uninformed: Smith isn't leaving Moraga.

So is this amateurish attempt to create division just sad or is disgusting a more appropriate description?

Notes from last night's SJSU - Hawaii contest

*** It was a 2-3 SJSU zone defense, less turnovers than Hawaii by six and 20 more Spartan free throws that led to the 73-61 victory.

*** There was a short period about three quarters of the way through the second half when it appeared Hawaii was mounting a comeback but San Jose State dug in, held fast and then advanced the lead even further.

UH put up eight more shots from the floor than San Jose State (50-42) but the Spartans were awarded 20 more free throws (36-16) -- something that must have had Bob Nash wondering about a homecourt advantage. The Rainbow Warriors entered the contest getting around six more foul shots per game this season than opponents.

*** How many games have you witnessed in which a team (Hawaii) had three shot clock violations take place?

*** Justin Graham led the San Jose State scoring with 19 points -- there must be something special for him about facing UH as he scored 29 points against the Rainbow Warriors in the game last season in San Jose -- going 7-9 from the floor and 14-17 at the foul line.

*** Look at the Spartan shooting numbers, an actual winning of the trifecta took place: 47.6% overall, 71.4% on five of seven treys and 77.8% on free throws (28-36).

*** San Jose State also won the turnover battle, earning 13 to Hawaii's 19.

*** Getting Bill Amis into foul trouble was a major factor as he's the most valuable UH big man.

*** Roderick Flemings is the real deal but he was forced to play 39 minutes last night. His three boards were about half his average and he compiled one assist to six turnovers.

Photos from Nigel Marrion

Nigel Marrion sent along these photos from last night's San Jose State 73-61 victory over Hawaii and we thank him for doing so. The first is proof positive of the Spartan victory and the second is SJSU breaking the huddle after the 16-minute timeout.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Spartans win in Hawaii 73-61

It was a night in which it seemed neither team was going to run away from the other. But San Jose State initiated the first sprint, going on a 16-4 run to jump ahead 53-42 at the 7:58 mark of the second half.

Hawaii regrouped and cut the lead in half but the Spartans stretched the lead to 11 again and led 59-48 with 3:55 remaining.

It was Justin Graham's explosions that led the bursts as the sophomore backcourter penetrated the paint at will. Graham tied the game at 39 with a putback of his own shot and his three subsequent free throws gave San Jose State its first lead.

The largest Spartan lead was 14.

Graham led four Spartans in double figure scoring with 19 points, joined by Tim Pierce's 13, Robert Owens' 13 and Mac Peterson earned his season high point total with 10.

It was also a contest with more San Jose State free throws than Hawaii and more makes at the foul line.

At the half, Hawaii had a four-point lead at 29-25. Owens led SJSU after 20 minutes with 10 points on 4-7 shooting.

Hawaii jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead and it was 14-5 at the 11:45 mark. With 5:57 on the clock, the Rainbow Warriors led 20-14 on 9-18 shooting from the floor. The Spartans were 6-20.

It was 22-19 with 3:26 remaining as Hawaii began having difficulty beating the 35 second clock with shot attempts.

Adrian Oliver is preparing to try for Thursday's game against visiting Utah State.

Some analysis will be offered tomorrow.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Spartans to hula with Hawaii Saturday night

Like the lengthy time off Bakersfield enjoyed, Hawaii has been off since playing Idaho on January 10 -- thus providing ample preparation time. UH also has an 11-game homecourt win streak against San Jose State dating back to 2004.

Hawaii's schedule definitely has a home flavor this season as Bob Nash's team played its first five games on the island and actually 13 of its first 14 took place at the Stan Sheriff Center.

But check out this weirdness: Hawaii lost 70-58 at home to Boise State and also fell on the road to the Broncos but cut the losing deficit in half in Idaho, 54-49. Explain that one.

Also, in its last two games, the Warriors have been unable to each 50 points -- 47 against Idaho and the 49 versus Boise State. Plus, Nash has publicly commented that zone defenses have particularly bothered his team this season.

The Season So Far

Hawaii is 9-7 overall, 1-3 in the WAC, with but one road game in non-conference play. The Rainbow Warriors are 9-2 in the last 11 contests.

11/14/2008 San Francisco L - 70-75
11/16/2008 Cal State Fullerton L - 76-90
11/17/2008 Idaho State W - 67-64
11/24/2008 Iowa State W - 60-5
12/01/2008 Prairie View A&M W - 78-70
12/08/2008 @ Illinois L - 58-68
12/13/2008 Eastern Washington W - 75-55
12/15/2008 Chicago State W - 85-75
12/23/2008 UC Riverside W - 56-46
12/27/2008 Colorado State L - 58-74
12/29/2008 George Washington W - 73-47
12/30/2008 Pepperdine W - 78-70
01/03/2009 Boise State L - 58-70
01/05/2009 Louisiana Tech W - 65-64
01/08/2009 @ Idaho L - 47-67
01/10/2009 @ Boise State L - 49-54

As highlighted, notice the under-fifty point totals versus Idaho and Boise State -- is this a trend or an anomaly?

Bob Nash's Starting Five

Hawaii has employed a different starting lineup ineach of the last three games so it's anyone's guess who will open the game.

Paul Campbell 6-10 junior 2.9 ppg., 3.2 rpg. -- He erupted for a career game against LA TECH -- 13 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks -- but has been quiet since then. Campbell actually has more offensive rebounds (25) than defensively (23). Keeping him to his average points and rebounds is a must.

Bill Amis
6-9 junior 9.9 ppg., 6.4 rpg. -- He's a lefty which sometimes causes problems by itself and shows good range as well as craftiness offensively although he isn't a three-point shooter.

Petras Balocka
6-8 junior 10.5 ppg., 6.1 rpg. -- He also has somewhat unique rebounding numbers, 40 on offensive and 57 defensively. His shooting percentages are lower than expected -- 42% overall and 29% on threes for a big with a rep as a shooter.

Lasha Parghalava
6-2 junior 8.5 ppg., 2.1 rpg., 1.3 apg. -- .35% from the floor, 25% from long range, plus 84% at the foul line indicate his range is limited to 15 feet or so but he is the most prolific three-point shooter for Hawaii with 71 attempts.

Roderick Flemings
6-7 junior 17.6 ppg., 5.8 rpg. -- The best player on the team and the leading scorer in the WAC, he is the one true creator and the best athlete for Hawaii. His most remarkable stat is that his rebounding totals are even, 46 offensive and defensive. Shutting him down is next to impossible so the key is keeping him at or near his usual game point total.

Off The Bench

Kareem Nitoto
-- He's not much as a shooter but he is a fine athlete and someone who works hard defensively.

Adhar Mayen -- He's another fine athlete, long and lanky, with some scoring ability.

Brandon Adams -- He's limited offensively but a hard worker and another good runner/jumper.

As A Team

Overall shooting is about equal as the Bows are at 43% for the season to 42% for opponents

*** But Hawaii is at 28% three-point shooting to 33% for opposing teams

*** Hawaii has about a 6 per game rebounding lead versus oppoinents

*** The Rainbow Warriors are a negative 47 in turnovers and a minus 46 in steals on the season

The Rainbow Warrior Roster
(by position, alphabetically)

Kareem Nitoto G 6-2 185 sophomore
Hiram Thompson G 6-2 175 sophomore
Gary Satterwhite Jr. G 6-3 175 freshman
Lasha Parghalava G 6-2 195 junior
Conrad Fitzgerald G 6-5 210 freshman
Beau Albrechtson G 6-4 205 freshman
Leroy Lutu G 6-3 200 freshman
Roderick Flemings G 6-7 210 junior

Ji Xiang F 6-10 240 freshman
Adhar Mayen F 6-8 195 junior
Brandon Adams F 6-7 220 junior
Adam Jespersen F 6-7 210 freshman
Bill Amis F 6-9 220 junior

Petras Balocka C 6-8 250 Junior
Paul Campbell C 6-10 215 junior

The UH roster certainly has an international and Bay Area flavor. Petras Balocka hails from Lithuania, Paul Campbell and Adam Jespersen are Canadian, Lasha Parghalava comes from the Republic of Georgia and Ji Xiang is Chinese.(China). Plus, Adhar Mayen is out of Texas but was born in The Sudan. Kareem Nitito graduated from San Leandro High and Brandon Adams is a transfer from Diablo Valley College in Contra Costa County.

What Else
(courtesy of the Hawaii athletics)

Key stat or not: The Rainbow Warriors are 4-0 when shooting 50% or higher but 0-4 when opponents shoot 50% or better.

Will or won't be a factor: Bakersfield grabbed 19 offensive rebounds against SJSU -- UH leads the WAC in offensive rebounding at 13.44 per game.

Plus: UH’s bench has outscored its opponents bench in five of the last six games. For the season, UH is getting 24 percent of its offensive production from the bench (15.6 points per game). San Jose State's bench hasn't been that productive.

UH’s aggression on offense has paid dividends with frequent trips to the free throw line. Hawaii has gone to the line an average of 26.1 times per game, while its opponents are making an average of 19.3 trips. Roderick Flemings has a team-high 111 free throw attempts, an average of 6.9 attempts per game.

UH has missed not having a consistent scorer/shooter in the backcourt.