Saturday, January 30, 2010

San Jose State falls 77-58

Utah State started out the game hot and enjoyed a 10-point first half lead at one point. It would have been easy to panic at that point but San Jose State instead fought back and closed the gap. A Mac Peterson trey made it 29-all, it was again a tie at 34 apiece and then 36-up after a successful Justin Graham dribble-drive. Eventually, the Spartans trailed by three at the buzzer after a Graham three--pointer was waved off.

But the Aggies cranked it up again coming out in the second 20 minutes and SJSU couldn't respond, resulting in a 77-58 victory for USU. This even though C.J. Webster forced Utah State 'big' Tai Wesley into his third foul and a trip to the bench early in the second half.

At the 15-minute mark, San Jose State was again down by 10 -- tThe Spartans having gone through an 0-5 shooting stretch while the Aggies shot 4-5.

The lead went to 11, then 12 and then 13 with 11 minutes to go. At the nine-minute mark, the deficit was 16 and no longer closeable. The Spartans shot 21% in the second half, scoring just 22 points.

Adrian Oliver paced SJSU with 19 points (5-16) and Peterson contributed 11 (3-12 shooting) -- the total he had at the conclusion of the first half.

We wrote this about Nate Bendall in our game preview: "He's the replacement for Gary Wilkinson, smaller and certainly not as dominant at 7.9 ppg. and 3.7 rpg. -- he does shoot well from both the floor and foul line but needs setting up." Bendall led Utah State with 20 points (9-14), a goodly percentage on putbacks after offensive rebounds.

Brady Jardine totaled 17 (8-11 shooting) -- a season and career high for him. Pooh Williams added 14. Here is how we described him in the preview: "Always a worthy defender, he really helps the Aggies when his shot is on." Williams played the best defense this season on Oliver and also hit a trio of treys (3-6 from long range) -- yet he is inexplicably 18-36 at the foul line this season.

For the game, San Jose State shot 36%, 7-23 on treys and 13-15 from the foul line. Utah State shot 55%, went 9-18 on three-pointers and 4-5 at the charity stripe. The Aggies had a small lead in overall rebounding at 32-27. With turnovers, USU committed eight to seven for SJSU.

After the first 20 minutes, Peterson led San Jose State with the aforementioned 11 points while Oliver was just behind with 10. SJSU shot 13-24 overall, 5-11 from three-point range. Utah State went 15-31, 5-10 from long distance. The Aggies nabbed 16 boards, half on the offensive end to 11 for the Spartans. But the first five minutes of the second period un-did San Jose State.

AO receives a vote for POY

AO has one vote:
Adrian Oliver
Aggieville: USU Sports
Salt Lake Tribune

At this point of the season, in the opinion of the Aggieville blog, Oliver is the WAC player of the year, if the season were to end today...
Go here for the remainder.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Utah State -- Saturday night -- in Logan

The WAC basketball season began on a pair of low notes for Logan-ites, with the result being some actually clamoring for a pushing of the panic button. Yes, the hoops sky was falling for the longtime WAC power, what with a 55-52 opening conference loss to host New Mexico State and then a veritable plastering in Ruston, 82-60, versus Louisiana Tech.

The whispers, along with some shouts, were "Stew's too old" and "Stew [Morrill] can't recruit" et al, lamenting that the long time Aggie mentor was no longer the right person for the position.

While it can't quite be called 'instant karma" for these rushers of judgment because it took a couple of weeks but all is currently copacetic at Utah State. Apparently, Morrill has somehow gotten younger and his scholarship players are somehow performing quite well with the squad in the midst of a four-game league winning streak (versus Hawaii, Nevada, Boise State and Fresno State).

What is also ominous for the Spartans is that the Aggies have enjoyed a week of practice at home since playing January 23 in Moscow, Idaho. Legs are no longer tired, nagging injuries have receded and the Aggie game plan hasn't been rushed into hasty implementation. Translation: the Aggies are rested and ready. The Spartans are coming off a Thursday victory and a Friday flight to Utah.

USU's WAC schedule/results

1/02/10 @ New Mexico State L, 55-52
1/04/10 @ Louisiana Tech L, 82-60
1/11/10 vs Hawai'i W, 98-54
1/13/10 @ Nevada W, 79-72 (OT)
1/16/10 v. Boise State W, 81-59
1/21/10 @ Fresno State W, 69-43

Utah State's Starting Five

6-foot-9 Nate Bendall - He's the replacement for Gary Wilkinson, smaller and certainly not as dominant at 7.9 ppg. and 3.7 rpg. -- he does shoot well from both the floor and foul line but needs setting up

6-foot-7 Tai Wesley - Call him the enforcer on the court, he's also the bestAggie inside shooter and rebounder at 11.9 ppg and 6.7 rpg. -- plus, he has taken the most foul shots on the USU roster due to his aggressiveness

6-foot- 3 Pooh Williams - Always a worthy defender, he really helps the Aggies when his shot is on

6-foot-4 Tyler Newbold - He's more a long distance shooter (30 of his 45 shot attempts are treys and he's but 8-10 at the foul line) -- he is also good on the boards at six a game

6-foot-1 Jared Quayle - the leader scorer at 12.0 ppg., he shoots the most on the team and is at 45% overall, plus 46% from long range (half of his shots are three-pointers) -- what is surprising is that he's taken just nine foul shots in seven games

The Cavalry

6-10 Modou Niang - he is getting on the court more (now close to 10 minutes a game) as his production is improving and his mistakes lessening -- he from Senegal but attended high school in Japan

6-foot-8 Matt Formisano - one of Bendall's fill-ins, he has placed less since WAC play commenced

6-foot-1 Brian Green - his scoring has been up and his shot on of late (on the season he is 22-33 shooting overall, 13-19 on three-pointers)

The Aggie Roster, by position

Preston Eaton 5-10/170 Guard FR
Brian Green 6-1/195 Guard JR
Preston Medlin 6-4/165 Guard FR
Jaxon Myaer 5-9/165 Guard SO
Tyler Newbold 6-4/210 Guard JR
Jared Quayle 6-1/180 Guard SR

Pooh Williams 6-3/200 Guard/Forward JR

Nate Bendall 6-9/245 Forward JR
Matt Formisano 6-8/240 Forward JR
Morgan Grim 6-8/220 Forward JR
Brady Jardine 6-7/220 Forward SO
Tai Wesley 6-7/240 Forward JR
Tyrone White 6-6/175 Forward FR

Modou Niang 6-10/220 Center SO
Anthony DiLoreto 7-1/230 Center FR (redshirting)

What To Expect

Pooh Williams made Nevada's Armon Johnson work extremely hard in the Aggie comeback win over Nevada and our expectation is that he will match up with Adrian Oliver (although Tyler Newbold is another solid defender and possibility)

- In a way, it's close to mysterious that a team whose leading scorer is at 12 ppg. is so successful but it's obviously working for the Aggies

- Every team is a system one but Utah State much more than most offensively, utilizing multiple screens to get open for jumpshots rather than dribble-drives -- it's currently 103 assists for USU on the season to 81 for the collective WAC opponents

- Utah State is shooting 50% overall as a team in WAC play while holding opponents to just 39% -- with San Jose State's hot shooting of late, especially from long distance, something has to give one way or the other Saturday night

- Surprisingly, the Aggies have committed 83 turnovers to 78 for opposing WAC teams -- something unusual for any Stew Morrill squad

Spartans win 83-60

We understand why nobody has ever written a song titled "What a Difference 11 Days Make" -- Dinah Washington notwithstanding -- but all Spartans were singing that tune tonight as San Jose State won what turned into a second half yawner over Hawaii 83-60. The Rainbow Warriors had earlier nabbed a 68-67 victory in the islands.

The biggest lead for the Spartans was 27 points. This victory moved the SJSU season record to 12-8 and was the fifth conference win to date.

Adrian Oliver totaled 33 points (12-18 shooting), plus added four rebounds and and an equal number of assists. Chris Oakes just missed a double-double with 18 points and nine boards and Robert Owens totaled 12. Justin Graham passed for eight assists.

San Jose State shot 51% on the night and went 7-16 from three-point range.

Roderick Flemings led Hawaii with 19 points, Jeremy Lay contributed 12 and Brandon Adams nine. Lay and Adams both had 19 in the earlier Rainbow Warrior victory.

UH was miserable at the foul line, going 9-21 while shooting 42% from the floor for the game.

SJSU won the battle of the boards 37-30.

At the half, it was 41-32 in favor of SJSU and that nine point differential was made closer by a late UH scoring rush. 14 was the largest Spartan lead in the initial 20 minutes. Oliver scored 17 at that point, on 6-10 shooting from the floor. Roderick Fleming totaled nine points. The statistic of the most importance was San Jose State's 52% overall shooting to Hawaii's 42%.

Post Game Quotes

San Jose State coach George Nessman
“I think our guys responded well to this entire homestand. It was a real important homestand for us if we’re going to project ourselves into the conference race. Winning these three games at home has done that. We’re a 1 ½ games out of first (place). Now the challenge is to stay in the race and staying focused through the balance of the season. “We didn’t play great, but we played with a lot of intensity. We were able to hold them off. They made some nice runs at us. We got one last run and put it away with 5-6 minutes to go.

“Adrian (Oliver) draws so much attention. He makes it easier on everyone else. He’s a very focused person and works extremely hard. Those two characteristics will always lead him to be consistent. What I’m really proud is seeing consistency in the other guys. Chris Oakes’ level of consistency is very high. Mac Peterson, Robert (Owens), Justin (Graham). The core group is playing most of our minutes right now is really playing consistently. That’s what you want.

“It’s very good to have C.J. (Webster) back. He’s not in game condition. He sat out, couldn’t practice for, like, 14 days. You could see the difference he can make for us in terms of his power around the goal. We’ll definitely need him going down the stretch. “Right now, what we can do is put three guys who are shooting well over 40 percent from the 3-point line at once. That has a tendency to spread defenses away from the rim. Justin can really drive and Adrian can really drive. The only guy left is the other team’s ‘big’ who has to rotate off of Chris Oakes. If he is late getting down in front of Chris, he’s pretty hard to stop once he gets his hands on the ball. He’s a good finisher in there. “We haven’t had our full team since early December. We have to work to get all our skills back in the same place. We’ve been using the four guards for many weeks now. We won’t abandon that. At the same time, we want to have another set of weapons we can apply when we have both Chris and C.J. on the floor. That’s a whole new set of problems for opponents to think about, too.
Hawaii Coach Bob Nash
“We didn’t have any energy and didn’t have any pop. We didn’t do it on the defensive end whatsoever.

“Oliver came out on fire. He was dialed in. When they smelled the kill, they went for it. He’s hard to stop. He’s one of the better guards in the league.”
San Jose State guard Adrian Oliver
“We always have two to three guys who can score during the course of the game. If we don’t, that’s unusual. Even when I have a great game, other guys step up. Chris (Oakes) has been playing like that the whole year. It’s nothing unusual.

“I told him, when I drive, he’s going to be open. He’ll get about five dunks a game. The strides he’s made this summer are amazing. He’s the reason we are at this point. He’s the difference.

“I have a lot more sense of trust with these guys. When you’ve been with guys for a year like I have, you gain this trust. Last year, some trust wasn’t there at times. Now, it’s total team ball. It’s fun to play that way.

“I don’t want to be seen as a scorer. All the great scorers I’ve known have said the same thing. I highly dislike when people label me as a scorer. It’s one of the things I good at. I want to be a complete player.

“We have a lot of chemistry right now. With this four-guard lineup, it’s been hot. We’ve been hard to guard. Now with C.J. back, it’s going to be hard to guard, because we have another big guy down low.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thursday night - Walt McPherson Court - Hawaii

Screamin' headline, breakin' news: HAWAII HAS LEFT THE ISLANDS!!!

The background: believe it or not, for just the third time this season, the UH basketball team has taken a road trip.

On December 2, the Rainbow Warriors tripped to Orange County to face UC Irvine and headed right back at game's conclusion. It was February 13 when Coach Bob Nash's team played Louisiana Tech in Ruston and two days later faced Utah State in Logan.

That's been it.

Every other Hawaii game has been in the familiar confines of the Stan Sheriff Center.

So will that play any sort of factor Thursday night at Walt McPherson Court?

Let's check in on what took place during the matchup of these two teams back on January 17:

A last-second shot attempt determined the final outcome as UH backcourter Hiram Thompson was fouled on his dribble-drive to the basket with but 2.1 seconds remaining. He went to the line with his team down by one, 67-66. Thompson buried the first to tie the game. His second attempt was also accurate and proved to be the gamewinner as Hawaii came out on top 68-67.

Here's what led up to Thompson heroics:

A Brandon Adams basket at the 4:05 mark put UH up 63-58.

Adrian Oliver countered with a basket to cut the deficit to three.

After a Rainbow Warrior miss, Chris Oakes rebounded the ball and tossed a long outlet pass to Justin Graham. San Jose State's junior guard was intentionally fouled by Jeremy Lay. Graham nailed both his free throws to reduce the point differential to 63-62 and the Spartans also retained possession of the ball.

Robert Owens then nailed a trey to put SJSU ahead at 65-63.

Lay came down and put down his own three-pointer to boost Hawaii ahead by one, 66-65.

At the 1:14 mark, Chris Oakes traveled making a move to the basket.

With regaining possession, Lay came down and went long range again, missing his trey attempt, but Roderick Flemings rebounded with 45 seconds left.

But Graham nabbed a steal and fed the ball to Oakes who dunked to make it 67-66 San Jose State with 19 seconds on the clock.

Graham again stole the ball when Hawaii came down the court and he passed to Adrian Oliver, who was fouled.

With a one-and-one at the line, Oliver missed and UH rebounded.

That's when Thompson's heroics came into play and proved to be the difference.

Oliver earned a double-double of 20/10 as did Oakes with 14/11. Graham was particularly effective going to the hoop and led the Spartans with 21 points.

UH shot just 41% for the game after a quick start but did succeed on nine of 24 three-point attempts. SJSU was 4-20 from long distance. Both teams made 11 free throws -- in 13 attempts for Hawaii and 19 for San Jose State.

At the half, it was 42-39 in Hawaii's favor in a back and forth contest. Graham scored 13 points and Oliver contributed 11 in the initial 20 minutes. UH was an unconscious 55% on field goal attempts including 6-13 on three-pointers at that point. SJSU wasn't far behind at 52%.

The UH WAC Schedule To Date

1/2/2010 Idaho L 52-59
1/4/2010 Boise State W 76-68
1/9/2010 @ Fresno State L 64-78
1/11/2010 @ Utah State L 54-98
1/17/2010 San Jose State W 68-67
1/21/2010 New Mexico State L 69-71
1/23/2010 Louisiana Tech L 60-65

The UH Starting Five

Who knows which quintet Nash will send out as he has been switching around? Our best guess is:

6-foot-10 Paul Campbell - scoring is not his forte as he is much more competent at shotblocking and rebounding, is shooting 19-38 from the foul line so it may be better to foul than let him score a chippie

6-foot-6 Brandon Adams - the best athlete on the team, his offensive skills are limited but he has made the most of them lately, including 19 points on 7-11 shooting against SJSU earlier this month and just notched 22 versus Louisiana Tech plus 14 against New Mexico State -- he is also grabbing close to 10 boards a game since being inserted in the starting lineup

6-foot-7 Roderick Flemings - he's the top talent on the team but has been hit by a number of nagging injuries this season -- Nash has brought him off the bench of late so who knows -- he put up 23 points and 10 rebounds versus New Mexico State plus 17 points and six boards against LA TECH

6-foot-1 Jeremy Lay - a junior college transfer with a rep as a shooter/ballhandler, he has shot 27% overall and from three-point range so far this season, along with a 46/37 assist-to-turnover ratio but made 6-13 shots (5-11 from three-point range) for 19 points in the earlier matchup against the Spartans

6-foot-2 Hiram Thompson - He's finally healthy after last year's multitude of injuries and now scoring 9.2 ppg. while having 80 assists to 44 turnovers -- Thompson is shooting 42% overall and 42% from long distance

The Cavalry

6-foot-7 Adhar Mayen - he does have 13 starts this season but wasn't a factor in the earlier game in Honolulu

6-foot-8 Petras Balocka - the top rebounder at 8.4 a contest, he is primarily an in-the-paint shooter

6-foot-0 Dwain Williams - isn't on the road trip and, actually, the team has actually performed better and been more cohesive in his absence (he has missed the last four games due to a death in his family)

7-foot-0 Douglas Kurtz - playing just less than six minutes a game, his contributions have been negligible to date

The Hawaii Roster, by position

Petras Balocka C 6-8 250 Sr.
Paul Campbell C 6-10 215 Sr.
Douglas Kurtz C 7-0 265 Jr.

Note the home countries respectively of these three: Lithuania, Canada and Brazil respectively.

Adhar Mayen F 6-8 195 Sr.
Ji Xiang F 6-10 240 So.(China)
Brandon Adams F 6-7 220 Sr.

(redshirting) Aleksandar Milovic F 6-7 220 So. (Montenegro)

Hiram Thompson G 6-2 175 Jr.
Dwain Williams G 6-0 175 Jr.
Rykin Enos G 5-11 190 So.
Beau Albrechtson G 6-4 205 So.
Jeremy Lay G 6-0 185 Jr.
Leroy Lutu G 6-3 200 So.
Roderick Flemings G 6-7 210 Sr.

(redshirting) Zane Johnson G 6-6 210 Jr.

What To Expect

SJSU shot 4-20 from three-point range and 11-19 at the foul line in the January 17 game -- a repeat of that seems unlikely

- San Jose State was very effective in the paint, outscoring UH 40-18 earlier -- why not again?

- There will definitely be a bunch of Hawaii fans in attendance Thursday night -- here's a cut-n-paste from the recent article:
Friends and family expected on road Hawai'i is expected to have dozens of fans in attendance at Thursday's game in San Jose. Junior guard Hiram Thompson and senior forward Brandon Adams have already received numerous requests for tickets from family and friends in the area. "Maybe 30 to 40," said Thompson, who grew up in El Dorado Hills, Calif. "It's nice to see so many familiar faces like that when you're on the road." Adams attended high school and junior college in California, and he is expecting to have 20 to 30 friends and family members in attendance. "Everybody's calling me already," he said. "I even know some of the guys on the (San Jose State) team, so it should be a fun game."
So this MUST be countered. That is your marching order. Let's not leave the noise-making to the band and the students.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Small ball is working for San Jose State

Here's a little something to consider:

To date, it's been four games for San Jose State basketball without C.J. Webster, who is sidelined with a serious eye injury incurred in the January 11 game against Fresno State.

Matters didn't look good for SJSU after losing the longtime starter in the frontcourt as depth and experience were not in abundance behind Webster.

But guess what?

The team has gone 3-1 -- did anyone see this coming? -- with the lone loss to Hawaii was certainly winnable.

Why and how?

Somebody could probably do a dissertation on all the factors and variables but what can be small 'e' explained is this:

- Visiting Boise was topped 76-74, SJSU shot 48.1% from the floor to BSU's 40%, SJSU committed seven turnovers

- Host Hawaii won 68-67, SJSU shot 45.6% overall to UH's 41.4%, SJSU committed nine turnovers

- Visiting Louisiana Tech was beaten 87-76, SJSU shot 54.9% to LT's 44.6%, SJSU committed 13 turnovers

- Visiting New Mexico State fell 93-84, SJSU shot 56.4% to the Aggies 39.4%, SJSU committed 15 turnovers

This adds up to the undersized Spartans cumulatively shooting 51.2% versus 41.3% for a quartet of opponents. Plus, averaging just 11 turnovers a game.

Regarding rebounding and points scored in the paint -- generally indicators of possessing adequate, competitive size, here's the numbers breakdown:

- Visiting Boise out-boarded the Spartans 49-29 while points in the paint were 34 and 32 respectively

- Host Hawaii won the battle of the boards 36-33 but SJSU outscored UH in the paint by a 40-18 differential

- Visiting Louisiana Tech lost the rebounding contest by three, 31-28, but triumphed with points in the paint 36-32
- Visiting New Mexico State nabbed 36 rebounds to SJSU's 37 and the Aggies also lost paint points by a 34-16 margin

Oh yes, the four guard Spartan starting lineup. The decision was made by Coach Nessman to go with a four guard starting lineup since Webster's sidelining. What cannot be measured but what seems visually apparent is better ballhandling and spacing offensively and stronger defending -- a somehow holding of opponents to a 41.2% ishooting percentage, one that even only a few Big Dance members achieve. In contrast, Texas is holding Big 12 opponents to 43%, Connecticut in the Big East owns a 38%, Kentucky in league play is at 39%, Kansas 41% and Villanova 39%.

So if the success continues as is, what happens if/when Webster becomes available? A hard decision will have to be made. Do you break up a winning combination? Maybe rotate Chris Oakes with Webster?

There certainly are much more tougher problems to have. If it indeed transpires, maybe this is a good problem.

Adrian Oliver double-dips

Junior Adrian Oliver earned a two-fer this week:
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association has selected San Jose State guard Adrian Oliver as its Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week for games ending the week of Sunday, Jan. 24. The USBWA's weekly honor is presented by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook and will be handed out each Tuesday through Feb. 23 this season. As the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Week, Oliver was nominated for the weekly award, which was chosen by a representative of the USBWA board of directors from a list of Division I conference players of the week.


Oliver, a 6-4 junior from Modesto, Calif., had a career-high 39 points in an 87-76 win over Louisiana Tech last Thursday that ended the Bulldogs' 10-game winning streak. He followed that up with 22 points in a 93-84 win against New Mexico State on Saturday. In both games, he played 38 minutes and had five assists.
For the week, Oliver shot 54.3 percent from the field (19-for-35) and was 19-for-20 from the free-throw line. He also averaged three rebounds and two steals in the two San Jose State wins. Oliver now has four straight 20-plus point efforts and the Spartans boast their best conference record (4-3) since 1999.
San Jose State University's Adrian Oliver has been named the Verizon Wireless Western Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week for the week of January 18-24.

Oliver, a junior guard from Modesto, Calif. (Modesto Christian HS), led San Jose State to a 2-0 record last week with home wins over Louisiana Tech (87-76) and New Mexico State (93-84). With the two wins, SJSU improves to 4-3 in WAC play for the first time since 1999.


Against Louisiana Tech, Oliver scored a career-high 39 points with five assists, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Oliver connected on 12-of-19 shots from the field against the Bulldogs, including a 3-of-5 clip from long range and a 12-of-12 mark from the free throw line.

Oliver then tallied 22 points with five assists, three rebounds and a pair of steals in the victory over New Mexico State. The performance marked his fourth-straight 20-plus point game as San Jose State registered its highest point total against a Division I opponent since 1996.


On the week, Oliver averaged 30.5 points, 5.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. He shot 54.3 percent (19-of-35) from the field, 44.4 percent (4-of-9) from three-point range and was 19-of-20 from the free throw line.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

San Jose State tops New Mexico State

St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers and the assumption is he would protect an on-the-road basketball team based in, of all places, Las Cruces. But safe travel is an alternate universe away from weighing in on the outcome of a basketball game and such was quite apparent as the New Mexico State Aggies fell to San Jose State Saturday night 93-84 at Walt McPherson Court.

Mac Peterson led the scoring for San Jose State with 25 points on 6-8 three-point shooting, plus seven made free throws. His point total was a career high. Adrian Oliver was close by with 22. Jahmar Young led the southern Aggies with 34 points, also a career high. Jonathan Gibson contributed 19 but it took 20 shots for him to reach that total.

All Dickens references aside, it was the tale of two halves.

New Mexico State came out warm and evolved into hot as getting good and unattended looks at the basket produced a 41-32 halftime lead. The Aggies led 23-21 with 7:25 remaining and went on 16-point scoring run to widen the gap to 39-21. But the Spartans closed strong to reduce it to nine, with a late Peterson trey and an Oliver and-1 three-point play playing big factors.

What worked particularly well for Coach Marvin Menzies' squad in the initial 20 minutes was dribble-drive penetration by forward Wendell McKines, who would draw the attention of multiple defenders and then kick the ball out primarily to an open Young or Gibson. But for whatever reason or reasons, that element of the Aggie arsenal disappeared in the second half. It also appeared that New Mexico State didn't look much inside until 6 or so minutes remained in the first half.

As the game tightened in the second 20 minutes and with the Spartans pulling ahead, the Aggies seemingly ran their offensive sets less and less, relying more on individual efforts and quick shots.

But that took a while. Robert Owens gave San Jose State its first second half lead at 57-56 with a top-of-the-key trey at the 12:30 mark. A Gibson three-pointer then put New Mexico State back ahead. But SJSU retook the lead 61-60 on an Oliver three-pointer from the left corner.

With 6:53 left, Young scored an and-1 three-point play to bring the Aggies to within one at 68-67. Young later got another basket on a layup but the Spartans barraged the Aggies during that time period with a Justin Graham layup, a Peterson trey, a Chris Oakes dunk off a pass from Peterson and yet another Peterson three-pointer. The latter score made it 78-69 in favor of San Jose State with 4:40 on the clock.

Oakes was intentionally fouled by Hamidu Rahman at the 1:59 mark and made both free throws to set the score at 84-73.

After that, it was a Spartan parade to the foul line sandwiched around three Young treys.

Overall, SJSU shot 56.4% from the floor and went 12-20 from long distance. New Mexico State took 16 more shots but made three less and ended up at 39.4% for the game. 38 of the Aggies 71 shot attempts were three-pointers.

San Jose State was credited with 23 assists.

The excellent Spartan shooting, especially in the second half, was the result of very solid spacing and crisp passing in the frontcourt.

NMSU did win the turnover battle, 15 to 6. The Aggies utilized a three-quarter court press for most of the game, gaining some turnovers but the outcome more a whittling away of the time on the Spartan shooting clock.

Remarkably, San Jose State scored 61 second half points (to 43 for New Mexico State), close to doubling its first 20 minute total.

Here are the post game quotes:

From Coach George Nessman:

“New Mexico State has as much firepower as any team we’ve played this year. In the first half, they were really playing well. What we told our guys (at halftime) was, ‘We’re not playing very well. We just need to change our mindset. We’re not as positive as we need to be. We need to be more positive – go out there and compete and play. Let’s control how well we’re playing.’

I thought the second half was much better. We did a much better job attack their zone and
getting in the lane against them which was a big factor. I though Mac Peterson had a big
second-half and a great overall game. He’s been having those for a while. It’s not particularly unusual for Mac.

It was a good win for us, and an important win for us.

(On Robert Owens’ 2nd half): We tell our players good and great players have to have short memories. You worry about what just happened and then you go forward. You didn’t become a bad shooter because you missed shots in the first half. That’s not how it works. When you are a senior and Robert was third in the conference in three-point shooting percentage last year, you’ve got to believe he’ll make his three’s. He obviously did and made some big ones for us.

We couldn’t find a defense to guard them (New Mexico State) in the first half. We tried a number of different things and couldn’t find anything successful.

(On Adrian Oliver’s slow start offensively): “He took four or five off-balance shots in a row. You’re in one of your zones right now where you throw it at the rim and it goes in. You’ve got to get back to fundamental play. Get your feet set, act with more purpose and, I think, we started seeing that. It was good to start the game, but after that point, he really started playing. Everybody needs a little reminder of what it is that makes a successful player. You have to be on balance. When he’s mortal like the rest of us, he has to set his feet the right way and I just reminded him of that.

(On the 2nd half shooting): “First of all, this team can really shoot the three. We have three guys that are 40 percent-plus. That’s set up also by Justin (Graham) driving the ball against their zone in the second half and punching it in there. In the first half, we were not driving very effectively. We were moving the ball around the perimeter and not getting as good a look. The second half, we were much more aggressive going forward and those things open up more. We have some pretty good shooters if they are open.”

From Coach Marvin Menzies:

“Great job by George (Nessman) and his crew. They really shot the ball extremely well in the second half. They had a lot of confidence.

I tell my guys I hate to play teams with three or four seniors on it, because they’re not going to give up. You have to give them all the credit. You can’t make excuses about the Hawaii trip and legs being tired. At the end of the day, they had a great home swing beating both La Tech and New Mexico State, which only had one loss. You have to give them all the credit.

We have no excuses. They just outplayed us. They were very efficient offensively in the second half. As a result, we have to settle for the split.

They have the talent. They were hitting the 3-ball at a clip tonight like they can win it all….On a serious note, they shoot the ball very well at home. They’re very tough at home. I want to commend the hometown crowd. It was an excellent turnout. It was the best turnout since I’ve been coming here for sure. The fans did a very good job of helping them rally. You need to give credit to the sixth man that exists here in San Jose.

From Chris Oakes:

(On the team’s shooting): “Those guys (Owens and Peterson) shoot a lot of jumpers. They work on their shooting. It wasn’t out of the ordinary for me to see them do that. It’s what they do. They’re tremendous scorers.

“I think we came out with the mindset these last couple of games with confidence knowing we can compete with any team on any given night.

“Our motion offense allows a lot of different looks. It just depends on how the defensive pattern is. They pay a lot of attention to Adrian. Often times, the gaps are open and Justin Graham does a great job of finding open guys.

(On the first half): “We got a little rattled. We were careless with the ball. We weren’t playing our game. We turned the ball over a lot. At halftime, we discussed what we needed to do to get this win. Once we calmed down, took care of the ball and valued the ball, we found open guys.”

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's New Mexico State on Saturday night @ 7:30

First off, we would be remiss not to note the absence of a Mercury News reporter providing a home game report of SJSU's win over Louisiana Tech. Is the Mercury News relevant anymore in the South Bay? At least for local sports? Yes, it's long been in vogue to bash the local newspaper but the absence of in-person coverage begs the question.

It's difficult to do a New Mexico State preview because one never knows which Aggies are going to be eligible and/or bailed out -- hey, we couldn't resist.

Because of:

- Wendell McKines being academically ineligible for the fall semester, then declared ineligible for the spring semester but subsequently winning an appeal of his eligibility

- Troy Gillenwater being acadmeically ineligible for the fall semester, then declared ineligible for the spring semester and currently awaiting the outcome of an appeal

- McKines being briefly jailed last week for delinquent payment of fines imposed for a March 2009 charge of criminal property damage.

Okay, we've had our fun. But if you wish more -- serious looks -- go here and here

On the court (as opposed to in court), New Mexico State features Jonathan Gibson and Jahmar Young as the major shooters/points producers, Wendell McKines cleaning up on the boards, with putbacks plus a dunk or two, Hamidu Rahman scoring in the paint and Hernst Laroche possessing a remarkable assist-to-turnover ratio.

The Aggie bench is iffy, sometimes productive, sometimes not and the playing time of the starters averages ranges from 30 minutes to 36 minutes a game. This is similar to Louisiana Tech.

The NMSU WAC Schedule to date

Jan 02 Utah State 55 - 52 (W)

Jan 04 Nevada 67 - 77 (L)

Jan 09 @ Boise State 88 - 85 (W)

Jan 11 @ Idaho 75 - 72 (W)

Jan 16 Fresno State 86 - 77 (W)

Jan 21 @ Hawaii 71-69 (W)

The Aggie Starting Quintet

6-foot-11 Hamidu Rahman - he is blossoming, at 9.2 ppg., 8.4 rpg plus nine blocks in five league contests -- his bulk may prove a more formidable obstacle than Magnum Rolle's athletic prowess

6-foot-6 Wendell McKines - he is capable of a double-double every game and is averaging 11.0 ppg. along with 9.4 rpg., is shooting 52% from the floor but can also hit from outside as his 5 for 12 WAC numbers indicate -- look for a highlight or two dunk from him

6-foot-5 Jahmar Young - tall and quick, he is averaging 20 ppg., shooting 46% overall and 30% on his treys, can be turnover prone

6-foot-1 Jonathan Gibson - very quick, averaging 20 ppg., 44% overall shooting, 40% from long range, he has been a player who will shoot you into or out of games but has been tempering the latter of late by offering greater consistency

6-foot-1 Hernst LaRoche - he's not shooting all that well but has compiled a superb 24-assist-to-eight-turnover ratio as well as 3.6 rpg., while leading the team in steals

The Cavalry

6-foot-5 Gordo Castillo - he is a three-point marksman, period -- best in the role of catch-and-shoot

6-foot-5 Tyrone Watson - he brings energy and hustle to the floor

6-foot-5 Kelly Merker - a walk-on whose role is to work hard and commit zero mistakes while giving one of the starters a breather

7-foot-0 Abdoulaye N'doye - he has produced some decent numbers in the recent game versus Fresno State but was it an anomaly or an indication of progress?

The Aggie roster, by position

Tray Britt G 6-3 195 Sr.
Gordo Castillo G 6-5 197 Jr.
Makhtar Diop G 6-6 183 So. (Senegal)
Jonathan Gibson G 6-1 171 Sr.
Hernst Laroche G 6-1 170 So. (Canada)
Jahmar Young G 6-5 180 Jr.

Troy Gillenwater 6-8 234 So.
Robert Lumpkins F 6-7 191 Jr.
Wendell McKines F 6-6 224 Jr.
Kelly Merker F 6-4 190 Sr.
Bandja Sy F 6-8 210 Fr. (France)
Tyrone Watson F 6-5 225 Fr. (Canada)
B.J. West F 6-11 220 Fr.

Abdoulaye N'doye C 7-0 215 Fr. (Senegal)
Hamidu Rahman C 6-11 245 So.

What To Expect

- With tongue firmly in cheek, the San Jose State coaching staff could ask to have an outstanding warrant check run on the entire Aggie roster just prior to tipoff

- At times, it's been less-than-effective boardplay, at other times a laxity on defense that has done in New Mexico State. But, of late, mostly all is clicking for the Aggies.

- New Mexico State has started slow the last couple of games -- is this a trend or an anomaly?

- NMSU shot 38% overall and 3-20 from three-point range versus Hawaii on Thursday night -- UH also out-boarded the Aggies 45-37

- Before that and at home versus Fresno State, the Aggies were down by nine points at the half before outscoring the Bulldogs 52-34 in the second 20 minutes

- Either Gibson or Young will take the most shots (generally approaching 20), usually followed by McKines and then Rahman but Coach Marvin Menzies may opt to focus on getting the ball in the paint to the 245 pound plus Rahman in order to try and get Chris Oakes into foul trouble

- Which Aggie guards Adrian Oliver? It would seemingly be Jahmar Young so that will be a fascinating offensive/defensive matchup

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Spartans take down LA TECH 87-76

Basketball games generally have ebbs and flows with team taking turns at making splashes. Tonight it was all flowing for San Jose State versus too many ebbs for visiting Louisiana Tech and the Spartans won 87-76.

Adrian Oliver's 39 points (12-19 shooting, 12-12 at the foul line, 3-5 from long distance) paved the way. Chris Oakes added 16.

Bulldog Kyle Gibson totaled 22 points, 20 of those in the second half. Olu Ashaolu just missed a double-double with 19 points and eight boards.

SJSU shot 55% from the floor, 7-15 on treys and 24-28 from the foul line. In contrast, LT shot 45% but had just 12 free throws, making eight. Coach Kerry Rupp's squad went 10-22 from downtown with Gibson leading the way at 4-8.

Foul trouble plagued Gibson -- who collected #5 late in the game after getting #4 with 14:58 on the clock -- and also Magnum Rolle, allowing the pair to be on the court for just 24 and 28 minutes respectively.

The Bulldogs had more offensive than defensive boards at 14 to 11, attributable to SJSU's sharp shooting and the strengths of Rolle and Ashaolu.

The Spartans led 41-31 at the half and also out-scored Tech 46-45 in the second 20 minutes.

Entering the game, Louisiana Tech was scoring 79 points per game and allowing just 67 versus WAC opponents -- so they almost matched their usual point production but were +20 points defensively.

SJSU entered the match producing 72 points per conference game while giving up 79, a plus of 15 points offensively and allowing three less than usual on defense.

The Bulldogs also entered the game allowing opponents to shoot just 42% overall yet the Spartans manage to connect on the aforementioned 55%.

There was a stretch in the first 20 minutes between the 6 minute and the 4:25 marks where it was all Oliver. He stole a pass on the press and scored via a driving layup. Another steal produced two AO foul shots and a second steal did the same. Finally, Oliver nailed a three-pointer.

What was readily apparent was how critical Gibson is to the Bulldog offense. When Gibson was sitting due to foul trouble in the first half, Louisiana Tech's offense looked dysfunctional. There was no one on the court to dribble-drive and break down defenses.

C.J. Webster missed the game for SJSU with an eye injury.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Marquin Chandler update

Former Spartan Marquin Chandler is playing for a new team -- the Dongbu Promy of the Korea Basketball League. The team is situated in Wonju, South Korea. In 38 games so far, he is averaging 17.1 ppg., shooting 52% overall, 36% on his threes and 87% from the foul line.

Louisiana Tech here Thursday night

So how is Louisiana Tech doing it -- being 5-0 in the WAC -- after years of basketball mediocrity?

We call the 2009-2010 situation "the right players at the right time" -- say a type of harmonic convergence but that actually negates the effort and hard work put in by all involved in order to reach the standing of the Kerry Rupp's squad today.

Let's explain.

When Rupp came aboard, he had something like six players on scholarship. Growing pains were indeed suffered but he slowly added and subtracted his way to a group of talented guys who finally and truly complement each other. A sloth-like playing style -- necessary due to the lack of talent and bodies -- kept the Bulldogs in many games in previous seasons but that has been replaced by a more modern tempo.

LT is currently a true pick-you-poison team, with each starter scoring in double figures. Plus, the Bulldogs are shooting 51% as a team while holding opponents to just a 42% average. That will win a lot of games right there. Add in the factor of a 5+ per game rebounding superiority and beating Tech is a difficult 40-minute task.

Most of all, player improvement has proven to be an enormous factor in the resurgence of the program. Four of Rupp's five starters have much better numbers a year ago (the fifth is a newcomer). We more than note this below.

WAC Schedule To Date

01/02/10 vs. Nevada W, 77-71
01/04/10 vs. Utah State W, 82-60
01/09/10 at Idaho W, 77-71
01/11/10 at Boise State W, 79-64
01/14/10 vs. Fresno State W, 81-73

The Bulldog Starting Five

6-foot-10 Magnum Rolle - He is the most magnificent athlete in the WAC as he can move, run and jump with anyone, is averaging 14.8 ppg. and 9.8 rpg. in WAC play (higher numbers than in his non-conference games), while shooting 62% -- the strength to dominate inside offensively remains absent but look for him to perform at least a couple of highlight reel plays a game -- Rolle averaged 12.2 ppg. and 7.2 rpg. last season while shooting 53%

6-foot-7 Olu Ashaolu - Talk about improvement! He is averaging 10.4 ppg. and 8.2 rpg. in conference play and has enjoyed seven double-doubles so far this season -- a weakness is his going just 9-22 at the foul line -- Ashaolu averaged 5.3 ppg. and 4.3 rpg. last season

6-foot-5 Kyle Gibson - Doesn't it seem like Gibson has been in Ruston forever? He is Mr. Indispensible at 22 ppg. and 4 rpg. and is extremely difficult to defend as exemplified by his attempting seven three-pointers (outside) plus earning eight foul shots a game (inside) this go-around -- Gibson averaged 16.1 ppg. last season

6-foot-3 Jamel Guyton - His 14.4 ppg. average is also higher than what he scored in non-league action and he is shooting 51% overall and 50% on trey attempts. Guyton is deadly at the foul line -- nine for 10 -- but this small number indicates he cannot be left alone on the perimeter or even in the mid-range area -- Guyton averaged 11.8 ppg. last season, shooting 38% overall and 34% from long range

5-foot-11 DeAndre Brown - The Bulldogs finally have a true point, one who is athletic, can create and also score. He is yet another Bulldog who is shooting better in league play -- currently 56% to 47% prior to the WAC schedule

The Cavalry

6-foot-8 David Jackson - He began at Idaho as a freshman, then transferred to a community college in his homestate of Arizona and finally landed in Ruston. Jackson does a little bit of everything, rarely hurts his team and accepts his off-the-bench role. He averages 20 minutes of playing time

6-foot-0 Yonas Berhe - His on-the-court time has dropped to five minutes a contest with WAC play -- he fills in at the point

6-foot-3 Anson Bartlett - A backup in the backcourt averaging eight minutes a game -- shooting appears to be his best asset

6-foot-10 Shawn Oliverson - Call this the most unusal transfer ever, going from Cornell to Louisiana Tech. He is a backup in the middle averaging six minutes a contest

The LT roster, by position

Brandon Gibson 6-5 225 G SO
Jamel Guyton 6-3 200 G SR
Yonas Berhe 6-0 170 G SO
DeAndre Brown 5-11 160 G JR
Andres Marmolejo 6-3 215 G JR
Kyle Gibson 6-5 205 G SR
Darius Redding 6-4 205 F FR
Tevin Hall 5-10 155 PG FR
Anson Bartlett 6-3 175 G SO
Justin Rake 6-3 200 SG FR

Olu Ashaolu 6-7 220 G/F SO
Trey Felder 6-5 169 SG/SF FR
David Jackson 6-8 205 F SR
Kaiser Stegall 6-3 205 SF FR

Magnum Rolle 6-11 225 C/F SR
Shawn Oliverson 6-10 250 C/F JR

What To Expect

Louisiana Tech doesn't have much in the way of a bench as each starter -- save one -- is above 30 minutes of playing time a game and the exception is averaging 28 -- getting the Bulldogs into foul trouble can cause much less proficiency offensively and defensively but it's something easier written than done

* This is not your father's Bulldog team where walking the ball up the court and draining possessons of at least 35 seconds of time are the norm

* One way or the other, Kyle Gibson is going to get his points -- reducing the others from their scoring averages is a much more feasible feat

* LT leads the WAC in scoring and is second in scoring defense -- a tough to crack combination

* The Bulldogs are also tops in shooting percentage and second in field goal percentage defense

* Rupp's team is last in assists indicating a lot of one-on-one, dribble-drive play plus some offensive rebounds converted into baskets

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hawaii wins 68-67

Way back when, Sunday was supposed to be a day or rest. That's a typically easy task in Hawaii -- heck, that's why people head there. But two groups of young men met on a shiny indoor court Sunday evening, exerting themselves in order to come out the victor. The Rainbow Warriors desperately needed to stop their slide in the WAC. The Spartans were primed to move ahead to a 3-2 league record.

A last-second shot attempt determined the final outcome as UH backcourter Hiram Thompson was fouled on his dribble-drive to the basket with but 2.1 seconds remaining. He went to the line with his team down by one, 67-66. Thompson buried the first to tie the game. His second attempt was also accurate and proved to be the gamewinner as Hawaii came out on top 68-67.

Here's what led up to Thompson heroics:

A Brandon Adams basket at the 4:05 mark put UH up 63-58.

Adrian Oliver countered with a basket to cut the deficit to three.

After a Rainbow Warrior miss, Chris Oakes rebounded the ball and tossed a long outlet pass to Justin Graham. San Jose State's junior guard was intentionally fouled by Jeremy Lay. Graham nailed both his free throws to reduce the point differential to 63-62 and the Spartans also retained possession of the ball.

Robert Owens then nailed a trey to put SJSU ahead at 65-63.

Lay came down and put down his own three-pointer to boost Hawaii ahead by one, 66-65.

At the 1:14 mark, Chris Oakes traveled making a move to the basket.

With regaining possession, Lay came down and went long range again, missing his trey attempt, but Roderick Flemings rebounded with 45 seconds left.

But Graham nabbed a steal and fed the ball to Oakes who dunked to make it 67-66 San Jose State with 19 seconds on the clock.

Graham again stole the ball when Hawaii came down the court and he passed to Adrian Oliver, who was fouled.

With a one-and-one at the line, Oliver missed and UH rebounded.

That's when Thompson's heroics came into play and proved to be the difference.

Oliver earned a double-double of 20/10 as did Oakes with 14/11. Graham was particularly effective going to the hoop and led the Spartans with 21 points.

UH shot just 41% for the game after a quick start but did succeed on nine of 24 three-point attempts. SJSU was 4-20 from long distance. Both teams made 11 free throws -- in 13 attempts for Hawaii and 20 for San Jose State.

At the half, it was 42-39 in Hawaii's favor in a back and forth contest. Graham scored 13 points and Oliver contributed 11 in the initial 20 minutes. UH was an unconscious 55% on field goal attempts including 6-13 on three-pointers at that point. SJSU wasn't far behind at 52%.

C.J. Webster again missed the game due to an eye injury.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

San Jose State versus Hawaii Sunday night

The drumbeat for more wins or else is beating loudly in and around Honolulu. One of the good guys in college basketball, Bob Nash, has struggled with recruiting both WAC level and complementary talent and the program still lacks a solid foundation of freshman and sophomores.

But there are individual talents.

Wing Roderick Flemings is quite the athlete and certainly has proven hard to guard with his dribble-drives. Paul Campbell has settled in as the 'big' in residence and his shotblocking and rebounding are helpful. Backcourter Dwain Williams has talent but hasn't yet figured out how to use it to make his teammates better. Point Hiram Thompson is finally healthy and enjoying a very productive season. Frontcourter Petras Balocka achieved a 20/20 double-double earlier this season and that doesn't happen to someone lacking skill.

Besides injuries, what seems to ail the Rainbow Warriros the most is consistency -- not having each player perform at his best each game.

WAC Schedule To Date

1/2/2010 Idaho L 52-59
1/4/2010 Boise State W 76-68
1/9/2010 @ Fresno State L 64-78
1/11/2010 @ Utah State L 54-98

The UH Starting Five

6-foot-10 Paul Campbell - he has never been a big scorer but has some point outbursts this season as well as being the top shotblocker with 25 on the season -- is shooting 60% from the floor but 49% at the foul line -- he has collected 38 offensive rebounds to 33 at the other end so blocking him out will be a necessity

6-foot-8 Petras Balocka - the top rebounder at 9 a contest, he is primarily an in-the-paint shooter

6-foot-7 Roderick Flemings - he is the top talent on the team but has been hit by a number of nagging injuries this season -- is averaging 14.4 ppg and 5.6 rpg. but shooting just 41% on the season, 27% on his threes -- he also has more TOs than assists

6-foot-0 Dwain Williams - averaging 14 ppg. so far while shooting 35% from the floor and 34% on a team-leading 90 trey attempts, has the possibility of shooting a team into or out of a game

6-foot-2 Hiram Thompson - He's finally healthy after last year's multitude of injuries and now scoring 9.5 ppg., rebounding at a 4.1 cxlip while having 68 assists to 35 turnovers -- Thompson is shooting 46% overall and 42% from long distance

The Cavalry

6-foot-7 Adhar Mayen - he does have 13 starts this season, averaging 7.1 ppg. while shooting 49%

6-foot-1 Jeremy Lay - a junior college transfer with a rep as a shooter ballhandler, he has compiled twin 28% shooting percentages overall and from three-point land as well as 30 assists to 31 turnovers

6-foot-6 Brandon Adams - the best athlere on the team but his offensive skills set is very limited

7-foot-0 Douglas Kurtz - playing just less than six minutes a game, his contributions have been negligible to date

The Hawaii Roster, by position

Petras Balocka C 6-8 250 Sr.
Paul Campbell C 6-10 215 Sr.
Douglas Kurtz C 7-0 265 Jr.

Note the home countries respectively of these three: Lithuania, Canada and Brazil respectively.

Adhar Mayen F 6-8 195 Sr.
Ji Xiang F 6-10 240 So.(China)
Brandon Adams F 6-7 220 Sr.

(redshirting) Aleksandar Milovic F 6-7 220 So. (Montenegro)

Hiram Thompson G 6-2 175 Jr.
Dwain Williams G 6-0 175 Jr.
Rykin Enos G 5-11 190 So.
Beau Albrechtson G 6-4 205 So.
Jeremy Lay G 6-0 185 Jr.
Leroy Lutu G 6-3 200 So.
Roderick Flemings G 6-7 210 Sr.

(redshirting) Zane Johnson G 6-6 210 Jr.

What To Expect

* Hawaii is viewing this match as its most critical to date (see cut-n-paste below) -- win and there is a vestige of hope, lose and both the spirit is diminished even more plus the extraneous noise gets louder

* Watch the rebounding differentials between the two squads -- can SJSU keep it close?

* UH has 55 more turnovers than opponents this season, plus 46 less steals and these are offensive efficiency killers -- can SJSU facilitate this trend?

* UH also has taken 100 more free throws than its opponents -- that will need to be negated

* We don't see a good UH matchup with Adrian Oliver -- Thompson has the best size in the backcourt but that focus will reduce his effectiveness at the point so does Bob Nash try Flemings?

The week in the WAC
Jeff Portnoy, Hawaii basketball color announcer
January 15, 2010

Since Hawaii's historic loss on Monday, there have been a few other games in the WAC of interest. Utah State appears to have righted its ship as it went to Nevada and won on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, La Tech continued its winning ways by beating a game Fresno State team at home by eight. Finally, for the first time in 15 games, San Jose beat Boise to even its WAC record at 2-2 and continue the downward Boise spiral (the only WAC team the Bows have beaten is Boise). Its beginning to look clearer everyday that Boise, and sorry, Hawaii, are fighting for 8th place, although a win Sunday night at home against San Jose would bring Hawaii's WAC record to 2-3, tying San Jose.

Not much news on the home front this week. Practices have been closed as the team tries to regroup after a terrible road trip. Three home games coming up as the New Mexico State and La Tech come in next week.

A day doesn't go by without someone stopping me on the street or at a meeting to ask what's wrong with the team and/or is there hope for the rest of the season. All I can say is there are significant talent problems, aggravated by lack of depth, and at least on occasion, lack of effort on the part of a player or two. This team, as I have said before, is not good enough to win playing half-hearted basketball or one half of basketball, and needs all five players on the court to contribute. You can not overstate how critical Sunday night's game. A loss would be devastating; a win would give us hope. I am going to stay with hope.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Spartans win 76-74

One concern emanating out of Boise State this week was a so-called lack of a go-to guy at the end of games. Fittingly, that meme reared its head tonight, both positively and negatively for the Broncos in a 76-74 loss.

With 2:43 remaining, Adrian Oliver made a pair of free throws (note a theme beginning here) to make it 71-66 in San Jose State's favor.

At the 2:10 mark, BSU's La'Shard Anderson buried a trey. After an exchange of possessions, Daequon Montreal scored on a putback to tie the game.

AO was fouled again and repeated his earlier success, making both free throws to push the Spartans back up 73-71.

Anderson came down and buried another trey to put the Broncos ahead 74-73 with 59 second left.

At the 34 second mark, Oliver was fouled yet again and duplicated his previous attempts, burying both free throws to nudge San Jose State back up 75-74.

After a BSU timeout, Anderson missed a three-point attempt and Mac Peterson was fouled after gathering in the rebound.

Peterson missed his initial free throw and made the second, leaving the score 76-74.

Boise State came down, missed on a shot and then a rebound putback but Anthony Thomas boarded and scored down low. However, he released his shot after the clock ran out.

SJSU's Oliver scored 37 in the last matchup with Boise State -- tonight he poured in 33.

The Spartans shot 48% as a team to BSU's 40%. SJSU went 17-21 at the foul line and this is where Coach Greg Graham's team stumbled, going 7-16. Boise State did enjoy a 49-29 rebounding advantage, with 26 offensive boards.

At the half it was even at 40 apiece. Oliver had 19 at that point and Justin Graham 11. The latter scored four baskets early on with dribble-drives to the hoop. After 20 minutes, there were already 13 ties and 11 lead changes between the teams.

We loved this initial half quote, coming from the Boise State announcers: "nobody is stopping anybody tonight."

It was soon followed with "who puts up two defensive stops and comes down and scores, wins it."

But that changed -- to a degree -- when the teams returned to the court.

San Jose State's C.J. Webster missed the game after being poked in the eye against Fresno State in the previous contest.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Boise State here on Thursday

The song remains the same. Boise State fans are either focused on football or expect their men's basketball program to emulate the football program. The latter is never going to happen but that won't stop the carping.

Coach Greg Graham's team is currently 0-4 in the WAC (2-5 on the road for the season), with three rather close contests and including matchups at Fresno State, hosting New Mexico State and welcoming Louisiana Tech. Only Nevada is missing from this Murderer's Row, plus Utah State should probably be included too.

Regardless, the Broncos need a win, period. For confidence, for momentum. To drown out the noise.

The BSU Schedule To Date

Nov 13 Loyola Marymount @ Missoula, MT 90 - 87 (W)
Nov 14 Montana @ Missoula, MT 82 - 95 (L)
Nov 15 North Dakota @ Missoula, MT 75 - 60 (W)
Nov 21 @ Wyoming 61 - 87 (L)
Nov 24 @ Eastern Washington 82 - 69 (W)
Nov 28 North Texas 79 - 73 (W)
Dec 05 @ Illinois 77 - 84 (L)
Dec 09 @ Idaho State 79 - 67 (W)
Dec 12 San Diego 56 - 59 (L)
Dec 19 Houston Baptist 96 - 59 (W)
Dec 21 Portland State 69 - 62 (W)
Dec 23 Montana State 58 - 56 (W)
Dec 29 Northwest Nazarene 76 - 58 (W)
Jan 02 @ Fresno State 68 - 71 (L)
Jan 04 @ Hawai'i 68 - 76 (L)
Jan 09 New Mexico State 85 - 88 (L)
Jan 11 Louisiana Tech 64 - 79 (L)

The Bronco Starting Five

6-foot-9 Kurt Cunningham - still a deadly shooter at 61% on the season and a load down low, he is scoring 8.9 ppg. and latching on to 3.6 rpg. along with passing out 23 assists. He can't be allowed to obtain the position in the paint he desires or it's lights out.

6-foot-9 Ike Okoye - the leading scorer (13.4) and rebounder (9.0) on the team as well as the top shotblocker with 30. Okoye is shooting 56% from the floor.

6-foot-6 Robert Arnold - can score a lot or a little and is at 11.3 ppg., he has launched 58 three-pointers with a 37% success rate, is very athletic

6-foot-1 La'Shard Anderson - the best point on the team this season with 69 assists, he is averaging 12 ppg. but shooting 39% overall and 28% from long distance

6-foot-2 Anthony Thomas - it has not been the senior season he expected, shooting 38% and 32% respectively and just 8 more assists than turnovers

The Cavalry

6-foot-7 Daequon Montreal - a junior college transfer who is very athletic, he is averaging 8.3 ppg. anf a seoncd-on-the-team 5.6 rpg. in 21 minutes a game

6-foot-10 Zack Moritz - he is another of the Beef Brothers who will fill in when Cunningham needs a rest

6-foot-6 Paul Noonan - has been injured of late and may or may not be available, in past seasons, he has been a three-point shooter but his numbers are down this season

The Boise State roster, by position

G.A. Hill G 5-8 140 Fr.
Justin Salzwedel G 6-2 184 Jr.
Anthony Thomas G 6-0 211 Sr.
Nate Larsen G 6-2 188 Sr.
La'Shard Anderson G 6-1 170 Jr.

Daequon Montreal F 6-7 229 Jr.
Ike Okoye F 6-9 235 Sr.
Sean Imadiyi F 6-7 207 Sr.
Robert Arnold F 6-6 170 Jr.
Paul Noonan F 6-7 214 Jr.
Tyler Young F 6-8 219 Fr.

Zack Moritz C 6-11 245 Jr.
Kurt Cunningham C 6-9 265 Sr.

G Westly Perryman is injured and not available
F Sam Hicks is a freshman who is redshirting

What To Expect

* Boise State has typically liked to get up and down the court, even with its bigs, but there not much of a bench this season so watch to see if that transpires.

* As a team, the Broncos are shooting 31% from three-point range but also currently have 33 more free throw attempts than opponents. Look for a focus on mid-range and inside shot attempts from Graham's unit.

* Adrian Oliver scored 37 points last time out against BSU -- deja vu?

* On the flip side, Ike Okoye went for 22 points on 8-of-12 from the floor and 6-for-10 from the line. 6-foot-9 or so , muscular bigs have been a thorn for SJSU.

* Key(est) item: the Spartans need to limit turnovers (empty possessions) as Boise doesn't appear to have the shooters to put up a 50% team shooting on the board

* Anthony Thomas was expected to lead this Boise squad but his shooting has dropped and turnovers increased in this, his senior go-around. Does that trend continue to play out, or not on Thursday?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fresno State prevails 80-70

There's body by Jake. Lies by Fox. Candy by See's. Tonight, it was win by George -- Paul George. On offense and defense, the long-armed Fresno State sophomore dominated with points (29) and steals (3) as his Bulldogs won 80-70 in Fresno.

Teammate Mychal Ladd played big like surname namesake Ernie, nailing five three-pointers for his total of 15. Sylvester Seay added 19.

Mac Peterson was dialed up long distance like never before nailing a total of seven three-pointers for 21 points. Chris Oakes doubled-doubled again with 12 points and 13 boards. Adrian Oliver totaled 12.

The Bulldogs kept the second half lead around nine to 11 points until a Peterson trey pulled the Spartans within five at the 13 minute mark. A short while later, another Peterson three-pointer pulled SJSU to within four. Fresno State kept scoring but Robert Owens also buried a three to make it 54-50. Then FSU sped away and returned the point differential to the previous nine to 11 spread.

Fresno State is now undefeated in the WAC at 3-0 and has a five game home winning streak.

At the half, it was Fresno in front 38-29. Peterson nailed 5-7 three-point attempts at that point to lead the Spartans with 15 points. Oakes and Webster both missed time with two fouls apiece in the initial 20 minutes.

What kind of game was it? Try this: 6-foot-8 Nedeljko Golubovic came into the game shooting 4-22 on treys but, of course, he nailed a three-pointer in the first half.

Fresno State went 13-30 from long distance as a team, San Jose State 10-24.

The Spartans won the battle of the boards 38-31.

Webster left midway in the second half with an apparent eye injury after being poked. He totaled 15 minutes of playing time.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

SJSU travels to Fresno Monday night

How it is possible for Fresno State to sport a so-so record? We ask this because the Bulldogs have explosive point producers in conjunction with a team holding opponents to 39% shooting. Steve Cleveland's team also leads the WAC in blocked shots at 4.5 a game and in steals with 8.1 a contest.

All this makes it appear like Fresno State should be undefeated.

The Fresno Bee's Marek Warszawski wrote this about Bulldog basketball on January 4 -- to what degree it is accurate is subject to opinion:

It didn't make the paper, but the lasting image I took from Fresno State's victory over Boise State on Saturday night wasn't Paul George's game-winning bucket with 15 seconds left.

It was watching coach Steve Cleveland hold one finger above his head (as if to say "Hold it for one shot!") as George drove the lane, split two defenders and swooped in for the layup.

What can one say about the 2009-2010 Bulldogs? Often exciting, always exasperating.

Based solely on talent, Fresno State should be a factor in the WAC race. (Only Nevada, New Mexico State and perhaps Louisiana Tech can match the 'Dogs in that department.) But as we all know, basketball games aren't decided on talent alone. Coaching is equally important. Not necessarily good or bad coaching, mind you, but whether the players actually listen to what's coming from the bench.

The Bulldogs, from what I've observed attending every home game, tend to fall short in that department.

First off, I'm not saying that the Bulldogs totally ignore Cleveland's coaching. They don't. But in critical moments, there's a tendency to free-lance and rely on one-on-one moves.

When it works out (like it did Saturday night), everyone forgets and goes home happy. But when it doesn't, well, we all know how that turns out, too. (See last season's 3-13 WAC record.)

Just look at Utah State. The Aggies haven't won two straight WAC titles (and are favored for a third) because they put the most talent on the floor. They did it because Stew Morrill is an excellent coach and recruits players who operate within his system.

Sometimes, when watching Fresno State, I get the feeling that highlight-reel plays that get thousands of YouTube hits are more important to this team than fundamentals like blocking out or executing set plays. And that's not just coaching. It's having players who are willing to let themselves be coached instead of thinking they can get by on God-given talent.

The schedule certainly works in Fresno State's favor. If the Bulldogs can start 3-0 at home (against the three teams picked to finish behind him in the WAC race), I think the momentum will carry over to key road games at Louisiana Tech (Jan. 16) and New Mexico State (Jan. 18).

But next time Cleveland asks the 'Dogs to hold the ball for the last shot with the game on the line, they ought to listen to him.

As we wrote earlier, here is one of the X-factors that is working in the Dogs' favor:

"...FSU coach Steve Cleveland attributes the [positive defensive] stats to a new defensive philosophy — a willingness to embrace the zone. He's been primarily a man-to-man stylist over his 30-plus years of coaching. "I think changing the defense, in some ways kind of takes teams longer to get into a groove," Cleveland said. "I think one thing we really struggled with last year in our man is, we really allowed people to kind of pound it at us, and it really kind of broke us down. We're gonna use a combination. We're gonna use what works, but you're going to see us on misses and makes play man and zone, and switch defenses often at timeouts and dead balls."

Let's see how it all plays out for both teams on Monday night in Fresno.

The Season So Far

11/17/09 @ Northern Arizona W, 65-59
11/19/09 @ Seattle University L, 85-84
11/23/09 vs. San Diego State L, 62-58
11/28/09 @ Santa Clara L, 74-67
12/01/09 vs. Pacific L, 70-58
12/06/09 vs. San Diego W, 69-37
12/08/09 @ Pepperdine W, 80-72
12/12/09 vs. BYU L, 72-67
12/17/09 vs. UC Davis W, 68-57
12/19/09 vs. North Dakota State W, 68-54
12/21/09 @ Montana L, 59-56
12/23/09 @ Oregon State L, 73-65
12/28/09 vs. Colorado State W, 73-50
01/02/10 vs. Boise State W, 71-68
01/09/10 vs. Hawai'i W, 78-64

Steve Cleveland's Starting Five

6-foot-10 Greg Smith - the odds-on favorite for WAC Rookie of the Year, he is averaging 12 points (60% shooting from the floor) and 6.5 rebounds each time out, plus a team-leading 27 blocks.

6-10 Sylvester Seay - averaging 16 ppg. along with six boards, he shoots well from the floor (almost 50%) but only 26% from three-point range (and he is third on the squad in long-range attempts) -- his attitude was a problem earlier this season but that issue seems to be resolved.

6-foot-8 Paul George - call him the stats producer as he tops the team in scoring (17) and rebounding (8.8), plus the most three-point attempts, the most fouls, the most steals, the most turnovers and is second in assists -- plus, don't foul him as he is shooting 90% at the line

6-foot-5 Mychal Ladd - how's this for an anomaly as the kid is shooting 44% on his three-pointers but 40% overall, this despite having marvelous athleticism -- also has just 11 free throw attempts on the season so it doesn't take a weatherman to know how to defend him

6-foot-2 Steven Shepp - FSU badly needed a viable point guard and brought in Shepp from the junior college ranks and he has compiled 72 assists to 41 turnovers, is tied with Justin Graham at a league-leading 4.8 assists per game, while shooting well (42% overall and from long range)

The Cavalry

6-foot-8 Nedeljko Golubovic - his stats and playing time are way down, especially his shooting at 28% -- injured in the BYU game with a torn tendon in one hand and a hyper-extended a finger in another

6-foot-7 Jerry Brown - a fresman just feeling his way this season

6-foot-4 Brandon Sperling - the backup at the point, he's not much of a shooter (23%) or creator

The Bulldog Roster by position

Greg Smith Center 6-10 250 FR

Justin Johnson Forward 6-6 205 FR
Sylvester Seay Forward 6-10 235 SR
Nedeljko Golubovic Forward 6-8 245 JR

Jerry Brown, Jr. Guard/Forward 6-7 195 FR
Paul George Guard/Forward 6-8 210 SO
Garrett Johnson Guard/Forward 6-5 190 FR

Taylor Kelly Guard 6-2 200 FR
Mychal Ladd Guard 6-5 190 SO
Steven Shepp Guard 6-2 170 SO
Brandon Sperling Guard 6-4 180 SO

Jonathan Wills Guard 6-6 180 JR (is redshirting)

What To Expect

* Greg Smith a tall and wide so his matchup with Chris Oakes will be quite the battle

* Who will match up with Paul George? It looks like Mac Peterson if the Spartans go with the lineup that has been employed of late and that will be a load.

* Adrian Oliver won't be facing a stellar defender a la some of the games this season but that probably only means he'll be facing multiple roadblocks in his maneuvers on the court.

* Fresno doesn't have the scoring power in the backcourt that Nevada featured so can SJSU outscore the Bulldogs there to make up for an expected deficit in the frontcourt?

* Does the sophomore George go the NBA after this season or next?

* We also predict the freshman Smith doesn't wear the Bulldog uniform for four years.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Nevada wins 96-67

The streak continued. Nevada has been dominant in recent games against San Jose State and that didn't change tonight. The Wolf Pack won 96-67.

Adrian Oliver led SJSU with 20 points. C.J. Webster added 15 on 7-10 shooting and Chris Oakes notched another double-double of 13 points and 10 boards.

Nevada shot 51% on the night, going 34-66. San Jose State checked in at 47%, making 28 baskets in 59 attempts. Rebounding was just about even.

Nevada began fast, running out to a quick 8-2 lead, Then it was 13-4. At the 8:15 mark, David Carter's squad was ahead 34-15. At that point, the Pack was 5-8 on three-point attempts and leading the Spartans 14-6 in rebounding. SJSU also had nine turnovers.

At the half, it was 47-29 Nevada. Oakes almost had his double-double by then with nine points and eight boards.

San Jose State made a second-half run as a Robert Owens basket cut the Nevada lead to 55-41 and Oliver followed with a trey to reduce the deficit to 11, 55-44. But Armon Johnson then added three points on a basket and free throw and the Wolf Pack continued to roll.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Nevada hosts SJSU Saturday night

San Jose State is travelin' northward towards a Saturday night matchup with Nevada, a team coming off a road split with a loss to Louisiana Tech and win versus New Mexico State. The Pack is led by a pair of gunslingers: Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson, two of the most difficult players to defend against in the WAC.

Coach David Carter has loosened the reigns, so to speak, and that has Nevada playing a more upbeat tempo this season.

Here's Coach Nessman quoted about this in a Chris Murray/Reno Gazette-Journal article:

“I think when you open the court up, you become harder to guard without a doubt, and I think you’re seeing Nevada’s point totals are way up there," Nessman said. "Nevada, to me, is probably the best overall offensive team in the conference because they run some good stuff, but they also have some pretty good individual players who can simply make plays when things break down. That’s a pretty good combo to have." Nessman said it helps having two All-WAC players in Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson, adding that the way the team employs those stars has been trickier to defend this season. “It’s really tough," Nessman said of defending Babbitt and Johnson. "They’re hard to guard and I like the way David has them moving around. He has Babbitt playing all over the floor now even more than in the past. They’re a difficult matchup and that’s why they’re scoring 80-plus points a game.”

The concern this season for the Wolf Pack has been defense. As for the former, Carter was recently quoted in a ChrisMurray/Reno Gazette Journal article here:

"What I tell the kids is that we’re not getting stops when we need to. We’re holding teams to (44.5) percent shooting and out-rebounding them, so on paper we’re playing well. But we’re just not getting the key stops when we need to in crunch time. That means we’re not getting a key blockout, that means not getting a key stop in transition, that means taking care of the ball. Those are all tough plays, and I thought we took care of the ball on Monday (against New Mexico State) and got the key rebounds. Overall, when you look at the game and you look at the stats, (we’re winning) every category. We’re out-rebounding teams, we’re shooting a better percentage, we’re holding their percentages down, however, we’re not getting the key stops when we need to. You look at La. Tech, we out-rebounded them by seven, but there were two rebounds that we did not get that meant more than out-rebounding them by seven."

To a question about assists, Carter responded:

"...You’re saying we need to share the ball a little more? I will talk to the team about that. [laughs] Personally, I would like our assists to be up a little bit. The guys are not playing selfishly, so I’m not concerned with that area. We do share the ball. Because our guys can take their defender off the dribble a lot, we don’t have as many assists. You don’t get as many assists when you have guys who can take one or two dribbles and score. I think Luke Babbitt can do that very well. I think Armon Johnson can, too. It’s kind of deceiving. I don’t think they’re playing selfishly. I just think it’s the kid’s ability to score when the ball is in their hands rather than scoring on a catch-and-shoot. Besides Kraemer, we don’t have a lot of guys who can catch-and-shoot. Kraemer is the guy who can get you a lot of assists. Armon Johnson knows that. The other guys catch the ball and it’s dribble, dribble, dribble and then score. So it takes away from the assists, but we still get the bucket. So, you don’t like the dribble-dribble score? [laughs] You like the catch-and-shoot."

Schedule to Date

Wins against Tulsa, Houston and Portland highlight the slate:

Nov 14 Montana State 75 - 61 (W)

Nov 18 @ UNLV 75 - 88 (L)

Nov 21 Houston 112 - 99 (W)

Nov 27 @ VCU 76 - 85 (L)

Nov 29 @ North Carolina 73 - 80 (L)

Dec 05 @ Pacific 58 - 61 (L)

Dec 12 South Dakota State 92 - 72 (W)

Dec 17 Eastern Washington 73 - 70 (W)

Dec 19 Wagner 74 - 61 (W)

Dec 22 BYU at Las Vegas, Nev. (The Orleans) 104 - 110 (L)

Dec 23 Tulsa at Las Vegas, Nev. (The Orleans) 99 - 68 (W)

Dec 28 Portland 78 - 69 (W)

Jan 02 @ Louisiana Tech 71 - 77 (L)

Jan 04 @ New Mexico State 77 - 67 (W)

The Nevada Starting Five
6-foot-8 Dario Hunt: he is shooting 54% from the floor and the foul line (hint: send him to the line if you send anybody), averaging 7.2 ppg. and 7.3 rpg. (48 offensive and 62 defensive), leads the squad with 29 blocks and 50 fouls

6-foot-9 Luke Babbitt: probably the early lead candidate for POY in the WAC, 20.5 ppg. and 9.9 rpg., shooting 52% from the floor, can score with his back to the basket and facing it, good range on his shot, surprisngly has 38 turnovers to date, averaging 35 minutes a game

6-foot-6 Joey Shaw: shooting 48% overall and 35% on three-point sttempts, solid rebounder at 5.8 a game, tied for tops on the team with 16 steals, he was 'en fuego' in last year's game at Walt McPherson Court including one shot that must have been a 30-footer, averaging just less than 30 minutes a game

6-foot-4 Brandon Fields: is it going to be the 'good' Brandon Fields or the inconsistent one on Saturday? he is first on the team in three-point shots with 72 but is making 30% of those attempts, is scoring at a 14.3 ppg. clip, has a solid 37-19 assists-to-turnovers ratio and plays at the point when Armon Johnson is taking a breather, averaging 32 minutes a game

6-foot-3 Armon Johnson: he is shooting much better overall this season (53%) but still too low on his treys (21%) and his foul shooting (65%), 71 assists in 15 games but also 55 turnovers, averaging 33 minutes a game

The Cavalry
6-foot-4 Ray Kraemer: he has really come on in his final season, 52 of his 68 shot attempts have been from long distance and he is shooting 50% on his treys -- don't lose him defensively, do opposing fans chant 'Cosmo" when he enters the game?

6-foot- 9 Marko Cukic: a freshman who has been foul prone to date, is activer inside but learning the so-called ropes

6-foot-3 London Giles: the backup at the point, best on the team at nabbing steals

6-foot-9 Keith Olson: a walk-on transfer from Northern Arizona

The Wolf Pack Roster by position
Brandon Fields G 6-4 190 Sr.
Patrick Nyeko G 6-6 180 Fr.
London Giles G 6-3 185 So.
Keith Fuetsch G 5-11 170 Fr.
Ray Kraemer G 6-4 200 Sr.
Malik Story G 6-5 225 So. (redshirting)
Armon Johnson G 6-3 195 Jr.

Joey Shaw F 6-6 210 Sr.
Luke Babbitt F 6-9 225 So.
Marko Cukic F 6-9 240 Fr.
Adam Carp F 6-7 205 Jr.
Keith Olson F 6-9 260 So.
Dario Hunt F 6-8 230 So.

What to Expect
* Get Hunt into foul trouble and then there is a problem and neither Marko Cukic or Keith Olson are particularly adept at defending

* Nevada is holding opponents to 33% shooting from long distance -- can the Pack maintain this against Mac Peterson and Robert Owens?

* The Wolf Pack is out-boarding opposing teams by seven a game, San Jose State is +4.2 in rebounding margi: who will win this battle?

* Expectations are that will matchup will be a high scoring one -- so who will shoot better on the night?

* Here's another question and answer from the Murray article and C.J. Webster receives a mention:

Question: When do you decide whether to front or stay behind a big man in the paint? It seems to me that some of the troubles we've had in the paint, we've allowed the ball to get in too deep.

Answer: I'll give you an example. Against New Mexico State, the kid (Hamidu Rahman) is 7-foot, so you don't want to front him because they'll throw it over the top and get a dunk. He doesn't score well when trying to score over his shoulder. So it all depends on personnel. Magnum Rolle at Louisiana Tech can score in front of you or behind you, so we have to try and pick and choose and mix it up. It depends on the personnel of the kid we're playing against. This Saturday, (San Jose State) has a big kid named (C.J.) Webster who can score really well over his left shoulder, so we have to be able to take that away from him, maybe double him, maybe mix it up a little bit. It all depends on who we're defending and how they score and how we can take that away from them.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

More on last night 's game

We're still feeling the vibe emanating from last night's victory over Idaho so let's revel in it some more.

Here's a take on the game from an Idaho student journalist:
Late Spartan surge ends Idaho’s bid to sweep road trip
Travis Mason-Bushman
Vandal Nation
January 5, 2010

SAN JOSE, Calif. — With four minutes and change to play in San Jose State’s WAC opener against Idaho last night, Spartan forward C.J. Webster looked at the opposing shot clock across the court — it was about to expire. In desperation, he flicked up a no-look shot backwards over his head from the free-throw line.

Back of the rim. Net. Score. The 1,287 fans in the Events Center sounded like 10,000.

It was just that kind of night for the home team...
Go here for the remainder. Do make sure to check out the YouTube link to Coach Don Verlin's post-game press conference.


What We Liked

* The Spartans scored 44 of their 78 points in the paint -- that's amazing because the Vandals aren't exactly helpless inside defensively. But, as Coach Verlin offered in his post-game press conference, you have to pick your poison and he chose a strategy that didn't quite work for this 40 minutes at least.

* On the other hand, Idaho was credited with 32 points in the paint -- a total that surprises us considering the Vandal top scorers were guards and wings. Remember this statistic from our pre-game report: "In its 2009-2010 victories to date, Idaho has averaged 33+ points in paint to just 24 points in the paint in losses." Curious.

* The official rebounding numbers number turned out to be fairly close (SJSU 13 + 18 = 31, ID 10 + 18 = 28) but San Jose State out-scored the Vandals 22-14 in second-chance points.

* Shooting 52.5% from the floor was a tremendous feat for the Spartans but Idaho also shot a to-be-proud-of (for them) 50.9%.

* First coming back from a second-half deficit and then holding on to a lead down the stretch was an impressive San Jose State achievement. This was a missing element from last season.