Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What we want to see in 2009-2010

Full-on basketball practice officially starts in mid-October and naturally what we are hoping to witness at Walt McPherson Court come November has been a subject on our collective minds at SpartanHoops. The team roster was recently announced so let's jump right in and roll with that. Coach Nessman uses the terminology 'bigs' and 'smalls' in delineating the makeup of his squad and so will we. Luckily, nobody by the name of Biggie Smalls has a spot on the squad this season.

BIGS (alphabetical)

Joe Henson
Chris Oakes
Moses Omolade
Kyle Thomas
Garrett Ton
C.J. Webster

C.J. Webster has been re-classified as a junior -- thank you to the NCAA for getting something right -- and we see it as a pivotal year for the Texan. It is worth noting that he was injured last season which hindered him but is ship shape now. He's certainly the top offensive force inside for SJSU and can dominate for periods of time with his scoring in the paint. We see Webster as possessing All-WAC first team capability and are hoping 2009-2010 is the season where it all comes together for C.J. in scoring, rebounding and defending. It looks like he may have to play less minutes per game this season and, although seemingly counter-intuitive, this could actually help facilitate his rise through concentrated time and effort.

Chris Oakes is now a senior. His rebounding and shotblocking numbers look fine for last season (7.6 boards a contest and 40 blocks on the season) as does his shooting (58%) but where Oakes can aid the SJSU the most is in battling for position when opposing 'bigs' come down and try to set up where they are most proficient. Aiding this should be the greater depth upfront, thereby eliminating foul trouble as a concern. If Oakes can, more often than not, eliminate opponents from positioning themselves in their respective offensive comfort zones, this positive effect will aid tightening up defensive play at the other four spots.

Moses Omolade is an anomaly in that he flies up and down the court at 6-foot-8 and he is one focused defender, despite weighing in at just 200 or so pounds. His wingspan allows for the blocking and altering of shots and he will not cede position. Omolade is not strong offensively but that won't be a necessity -- defending and rebounding will be his assignments and he'll get his points off putbacks and from receiving passes off dribble-drives by teammates.

Kyle Thomas can also play on the wing (even at 6-foot-8) and is a lefty who seems to catch opponents by surprise. Look for him to do a bit of everything.

Joe Henson is a 6-foot-8 freshman whose role this season will be getting ready for what could be a hefty increase in minutes next season. He suffered a serious hip injury during high school but overcame that and also transformed his body in a major way as he used to weigh much more. Word is that Henson also runs the floor well and that dovetails well with what will be an increased emphasis on motoring from defense to offense and vice versa in 2009-2010.

Garrett Ton is a walk-on practice player who always gives his best.

SMALLS (alphabetical)

Anthony Dixon
Justin Graham
Chris Jones
Aalim Moor
Adrian Oliver
Robert Owens
Mac Peterson
Jerelle Wilson

Adrian Oliver just needs better health. Very few fans in the WAC have any consciousness of Oliver because he either didn't play when the Spartans were out on the road or was attempting to tough it out while injured. We actually see Oliver as among the candidates for league most valuable player in 2009-2010 but let's allow him his play to sneak up on any unsuspecting fans and media members. Also, look for more assists and less turnovers from Oliver in 2009-2010 for a myriad of reasons littered through this analysis.

The health of Justin Graham's right wrist is the foremost topic. Opponents wouldn't go out to defend him last season due to the bum wrist which also resulted in defenders packing the key against other Spartans. With his outside shooting back to normal after surgery, look for more dribble-drive openings for Graham and much less clogging of the lane. We also want to see his turnover totals be at 60-70 come season's end.

Robert Owens was 20+ percentage points higher in overall and three-point shooting in WAC games and hopefully this parlays into a much more comfortable Choo and thus similar or better numbers this go-around. We do want to see upgraded defensive intensity because the league is loaded this season with backcourters who can put up points in a hurry.

Freshman Chris Jones could go scoreless in the upcoming season and still be a vital cog for SJSU simply because of his defensive prowess.There are likely many more minutes available at the wing spot than the two guard but Jones will be defending the better 1s, 2s and 3s throughout the WAC this season.

Freshman Aalim Moor is the backup at the point and he should bring ballhandling with few turnovers, speed up and down the court, defensive effort and very good athleticism to the role.

Mac Peterson has been the 'Role Guy' in the backcourt, filling in at the point when steadiness is needed and moving over when a three-point attempt is on the menu.

6-foot-6 freshman Anthony Dixon is out of Chicago and, while needing to add weight and strength, he'll also 'athleticize' the team.

Jerelle Wilson has been a longtime walk-on who may see more court time this season if the Spartans can put away games earlier.


* Remain the best rebounding squad in the WAC
* Rise to the upper division in shooting percentage defense
* Cause more turnovers and commit less
* See joy, intensity and a killer instinct displayed on the court

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