We were on the sideline watching Saturday afternoon's game against Pacific and our take is it was both physical and mental ... all over the court.
Let us explain.
What struck us the most was the stick-to-it-ness, the resolve of the SJSU contingent.
We type that because it would have been very easy to fold the proverbial team tent after being down by 10 at one point and having no momentum in the first half. That's often a time when selfishness can appear and a 'get-mine' attitude surfaces with less mature teams.
It didn't show up on Walt McPherson Court.
Then it was down by five with minimal time remaining and the participating bodies physically battered after having both dished out and taken beatings. Additionally, the Spartan players were faced with these challenges after a spirited battle against Washington followed by a blah one versus Riverside that resulted in two consecutive losses.
But SJSU didn't disappear.
No, it was bang, bang and bang some more. It was additional carrying on the fight until the contest time expired.
Granted, Adrian Oliver and Justin Graham individually didn't have the best of shooting nights...but they also certainly didn't pack it in and fall into a woe-is-me mope.
Consider that Oliver went 4-12 from the floor on the afternoon -- which obviously had to be frustrating for him -- yet he didn't react in the silly retributive fashion seen far too often elsewhere after a Pacific backcourter tossed him down to the floor in a late-in-the-game moment of visible immaturity. Oliver quietly got upright as the referees took the ball from the the Tigers and gave possession to San Jose.
Who displayed the appropriate mental toughness on that play?
Graham suffered through 3-15 shooting in the contest yet still displayed the moxie to take the critical shot -- which became the winning basket.
By the way, both Graham and Oliver were credited with four assists Saturday afternoon..
C.J. Webster latched on to 14 rebounds, edging towards half of San Jose State's boarding total -- this while displaying the emotion that seems to signal a solid contribution will be forthcoming.
So now St. Mary's -- the darling of the mid-majority collection of schools and rightly so -- comes to town tonight. The Gaels have been playing extremely well and their rep is a well-earned one.
Let's see who demonstrably comes to play and also who amps up his contribution and performance.
It's going to be another physical contest -- that's a given between these two teams -- but we'll also be focusing in on the mental aspect. It's not a matter of refusing to lose though -- much more accurately one of a willingness to compete for a full 40 minutes.
We liked what we witnessed on Saturday. Although everyone complains about re-runs on television, we're hoping to view just that in person again tonight.