Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spartans blow out Fresno 72-45

On the way to the game, a beautiful rainbow appeared across the eastern sky. Spurred by such a sight, as much as we tried we never did locate the Yellow Brick Road or anyone remotely resembling Judy Garland, or Toto for that matter. But San Jose State played the role of water, Fresno State the Wicked Witch of the West and the host Spartans melted down the Bulldogs 72-45 Saturday night.

The score was 32-16 at halftime, an initial 20 minutes where Coach Steve Cleveland's squad shot 6-31 (19.4%) overall, 2-15 from three-point range and 2-8 from the foul line. Paul George, a candidate for the All-WAC first team and Fresno State's leading scorer, took just three shots, making none. He ended the night blanked, with just five missed shots in 27 minutes of play.

Robert Owens and Mac Peterson led the way for San Jose State, scoring 20 and 16 points respectively. The former shot 6-11 from long distance, the latter 4-7 and the Spartans were an 'en fuego' 13-26 from three-point range on the night. Adrian Oliver went just 4-18 shooting but led with both eight assists and three blocked shots. Think about this: on a night Oliver doesn't shoot anywhere close to his usual standards and Justin Graham scores a pair of points, the Spartans win in a laugher.

San Jose State's biggest lead on the night was 30 points at 50-20. Fresno State actually led early at 9-6 but that was short-lived and little remembered.

What's also noteworthy but often overlooked is the element of precision passing on display tonight. Oliver passed to Owens for a pair of game-opening left corner treys. The first pass reached Owens right at chest level, the second was a bit above his head but both allowed Owens to remain in his natural shooting rhythm -- the key to successful shooting. Later, Oliver also hit Peterson with a chest high pass that was then turned into another trey. Further on in the matchup, Justin Graham did exactly the same with passes to Peterson and then Owens.

At the 12-minute mark of the second half, none of the Bulldog starters were on the court. That was both a concession by Cleveland and also a point demonstrating his dissatisfaction with the effort of his starters.

What seemed a smart move was the halfcourt area pressure San Jose State applied to the Bulldogs once the large lead was obtained. This elongated the time period of Fresno State's possessions, thereby taking additional ticks off the clock and reducing comeback time.

It was a fitting conclusion for Senior Night, with Chris Oakes, Robert Owens, Mac Peretson and Jerelle Wilson receiving pre-game accolades. The announcement was also made that each is on target to graduate, not a note of insignificance.

The Red Wave, which is now more a trickle for road contests but worthy of noting for its devoutness, had to sit on their respective hands most of the night.

Here's Cleveland on his team: "...we were just totally inept offensively. I just haven't seen us shoot the ball that poorly...when you shoot 25 percent, you're not going to beat anybody on the planet. There's nothing positive I can think about offensively."

It appeared some of that was the result of Spartan defensive prowess but there also was no spark among the San Joaquin-ers. SJSU Coach George Nessman talked about this: "Our defensive intensity was really good, but we can't take credit for forcing a team to shoot 21-out-of-22 misses. They have a couple of spectacular players who it just wasn't their night. That happens and we took advantage of it."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fresno State - Saturday night - Walt McPherson Court

It improbably was Elton John who sang "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" and that's just what San Jose State will do against the visiting Fresno State Bulldogs tomorrow night.

These two teams met earlier and it was Paul George who primarily put FSU over the top.

We wrote this about the January 11 matchup between these two teams:

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.

Fresno State in WAC play

01/02/10 vs. Boise State W, 71-68
01/09/10 vs. Hawai'i W, 78-64
01/11/10 vs. San Jose State W, 80-70
01/14/10 @ Louisiana Tech L, 81-73
01/16/10 @ New Mexico State L, 86-77
01/21/10 vs. Utah State L, 69-43
01/23/10 vs. Nevada W, 87-77
01/28/10 @ Idaho L, 74-59
01/30/10 @ Boise State L, 65-49
02/06/10 @ Hawai'i W, 61-51
02/11/10 vs. New Mexico State W, 83-64
02/13/10 vs. Idaho L, 68-59
02/17/10 @ Nevada L, 74-70
02/20/10 vs. UC Santa Barbara L, 64-60
02/23/10 vs. Cal State Bakersfield W, 79-68

Steve Cleveland's Starting Five

6-foot-10 Greg Smith: the odds-on favorite for WAC Rookie of the Year, he's a force inside but has been bothered by a shoulder injury -- keep him off the offensive boards as 34 or his 81 total rebounds in WAC action have been offensive

6-10 Sylvester Seay: averaging 15.3 ppg. along with a team-leading 6.9 boards, he shoots well from the floor (at 46%) but only 30% from three-point range but has been lessening his number of longrange attempts per game

6-foot-8 Paul George: call him the Bulldog stats stuffer as he tops the team in scoring (19.3) and is third (but not by much) in rebounding (6.1), plus at or near the top in most everything else -- he missed four games earlier due to an ankle injury

6-foot-5 Mychal Ladd: how's this for an anomaly as the kid is shooting 40% on his three-pointers but just 41% overall -- this despite having marvelous athleticism which he could seemingly employ attacking the rim -- however, he's solid as a catch-and-shoot scorer but not much of a creator

6-foot-2 Steven Shepp: FSU badly needed a viable point guard and brought in Shepp from the junior college ranks -- his shooting numbers have dropped in conference action but he possesses a 62/34 assist-to-turnover ration in conference games

The Cavalry

6-foot-8 Nedeljko Golubovic: A thumb injury has curtailed his shooting prowess but he plays intelligently

6-foot-7 Jerry Brown: he is playing a bit more now as a true freshman, adding energy more than anything else when he enters a game

6-foot-4 Brandon Sperling: the backup at the point

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

Here's the most recent take on Paul George from the player himself: "This last practice is when I noticed I was able to explode and able to cut with explosiveness and able to plant and move," he said. "That's when I really noticed that it's pain free." -- George played 32 minutes in the last Fresno State game so consider him fine

- Also, Greg Smith went 7-8 from the floor against Bakersfield so count him as 100% or close to it

- This has nothing to do with the game but it's a great story -- from the BarkBoard message board: "I use to live and die with every Bulldog loss. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night because I was so bummed out. But, taking my son to the games has made the games so much more enjoyable for me. The main reason is because my son has a blast whether we win or lose and we have some truly great role models on the team as well. This past Saturday, we went to both the women's and men's basketball games. We sit near the court, so as the men's team was warming up before the game, my son yelled at Steven Shepp and put his thumb up and Shepp smiled and put his thumb up to him as well. Then, when the starting line-up was announced right before tip-off, Shepp ran off the court and over to our seats and handed my son the red ball they throw out to the crowd before the games. It was one of the classiest things that anyone has ever done and my son was on cloud 9! During the game, he kept saying Steven Shepp was his best friend!! This is why I love college athletics and why I will always support the Dogs, whether they win or lose!! These student athletes deserve our support no matter what!! Thank you Mr. Shepp for making my son's day!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nevada in a squeaker 83-79

Luke Babbitt being in foul trouble is the dream of every WAC coach, David Carter excepted. It's easily the foremost manner in negating the likely most valuable player in the 2009-2010 Western Athletic Conference.

Shooting 46% while holding your opponent to 41% in the second 20 minutes also ranks right up there in capturing the imagining of a victory.

San Jose State produced both scenarios but fell short of the trifecta, losing 83-79 to the visiting Nevada Wolf Pack.

Adrian Oliver finished with 35 points on 13-22 shooting and Mac Peterson came next with 15. Brandon Fields topped Nevada with 23 points, Babbitt totaled 21 and Armon Johnson finished with 18.

Babbitt incurred his fourth foul and headed to the bench but just for a short time at the 12:18 mark of the second half -- the Pack ahead by one at 60-59.

Later on, Oliver's turnaround jumper tied the score at 71. After Babbitt missed, Peterson banged in a shot to put the Spartans ahead with 4:43 remaining.

Dario Hunt was fouled and made one of two free throws to bring Nevada to a one point deficit. Armon Johnson then hit a jumper to put the Wolf Pack back into the lead, 74-73.

Oliver followed with an old-fashioned three-point play -- a baseline jumper followed by a free throw -- to get SJSU the lead back, 76-74, with 3:34 on the clock.

Another Johnson two-pointer tied the game but Oliver wasn't done. He tallied another deuce with 1:59 showing to again boost the Spartans to a two-point advantage at 78-76.

Next, Joey Shaw caught a pass in the corner and buried a trey -- the Pack led 79-78 with 1:09 remaining.

Peterson attempted a pass into the paint but Babbitt intercepted it, came down and nailed a turnaround jumper to put David Carter's club into a three-point lead.

On the next possession, Oliver missed on a jumper, Chris Oakes missed on the tip and Babbitt was fouled after garnering the rebound. He netted both from the foul line and Nevada owned an insurmountable five-point margin.

Chris Oakes was fouled with two seconds remaining and he netted a free throw that closed out the scoring.

It was Nevada up by seven, 48-41, after the initial 20 minutes as both teams maintained hot hands. Nevada was smoking at 61%, San Jose State at 50%.

The Wolf Pack won the battle of the boards at 30-25. SJSU shot 48% on the night but Nevada finished at 52%. Carter's squad tallied 12 turnovers and three steals to 10 and eight respectively for the Spartans.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Congratulations to the Gadways

We offer a hearty congratulations to the Gadways for all they have done and all they do for San Jose State:
SJSU alumni fund athletic learning center
Melissa Sabile
Spartan Daily

When SJSU alumni Stan and Marilyn Gadway lost their son, Scott, they said they decided to honor his memory by turning the weight room in the Simpkins Stadium Center into an academic center for student athletes.

"We thought of funding a scholarship or doing something else," Marilyn Gadway said. "But realizing that there was no academic center - that was brought up - and we thought it would be advantageous to all the students who came through."

The Scott Gadway Academic Center, located in South Cwampus, is open to all students, but was built to help student athletes achieve and maintain good grades, Stan Gadway said...
Go here for the remainder.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nevada - Walt McPherson Court - Thursday night

Is it 'to Babbitt-ize someone' or 'getting Babbitt-ed'?

We're going with the former, meaning having double figures in points and rebounds putting you underwater.

6-foot-8 Luke Babbitt is the odds-on choice to become the 2009-2010 WAC Player of the Year based on his 24 ppg. (second in the WAC, just behind someone named Adrian Oliver) and league-leading 9.7 rpg. He is shooting 53% overall, 44% from three-point range and 89% at the foul line. His inside/outside game forces smaller defenders to battle his moves inside plus the opponents his size or taller to uncomfortably come outside the key and play defense.

San Jose State doesn't have a solid matchup for Babbitt so this will be an element to watch Thursday evening.

Nevada is just 3-8 away from the advantage of homecourt in 2009-2010 but notably a much more equitable 3-3 in conference away games.

On January 9, these two teams faced off in Reno and Nevada won going away:

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.

The Wolf Pack WAC Schedule, to date

Jan 02 @ Louisiana Tech 71 - 77 (L)

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

Jan 09 San Jose State 96 - 67 (W)

Jan 13 Utah State 72 - 79 (L) OT

Jan 16 Idaho 76 - 68 (W)

Jan 20 @ Boise State 88 - 82 (W)

Jan 23 @ Fresno State 77 - 87 (L)

Jan 30 Hawai'i 66 - 60 (W)

Feb 06 @ Utah State 65 - 76 (L)

Feb 10 @ Idaho 67 - 66 (W)

Feb 13 Boise State 88 - 80 (W) OT

Feb 17 Fresno State 74 - 70 (W)

The Nevada Starting Five

6-foot-8 Dario Hunt: 25 blocks in WAC play and 7.2 rpg. summarize his game -- one goal is never let him make an easy basket because he's shooting 36% at the foul line in WAC competition

6-foot-9 Luke Babbitt: besides the aforementioned numbers, Babbitt also leads the Pack in steals on the season -- his jab step and stepback jumper is undefendable -- he shot 4-10 in the last game between these team but went 11-11 at the foul line on his way to 20 points and 10 boards

6-foot-6 Joey Shaw: not so much of a three-point shooter as in previous seasons, he's streaky -- the ball comes off very hard and usually long when he misses, something for opponents to keep in mind

6-foot-4 Brandon Fields: He had a bum ankle but is now healthy and truly benefits from the defensive attention Babbitt and Johnson draw -- he's an inconsistent shooter (39% overall and averaging 12.6 ppg.) but can get on a streak -- shot 8-16 against SJSU in the previous game

6-foot-3 Armon Johnson: 16.3 ppg. on 43% overall shooting, he is but 5-26 on his three-point attempts -- consistency is his bugaboo and is setting up his teammates -- he went for 23 points in 25 minutes in the last matchup

Defenders seems to forget that both Babbitt and Johnson are lefties and prefer to dribble-drive in that direction. It's not that they can't also go right but watch how they are defensed on Thursday.

The Cavalry

6-foot-4 Ray Kraemer: Three is never a crowd -- it's a Kramer as 51 of his 54 shot attempts in WAC play have been three-pointers -- he plies the perimeter waiting for kick-out passes and is making 45%

6-foot- 9 Marko Cukic: he's getting more comfortable in the middle, getting beyond his early-on predilection for collecting a quick number of fouls

6-foot-3 London Giles: a backup at the point

6-foot-9 Keith Olson: he's been out with an injury but may see some action on Thursday

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

SJSU doesn't have a good matchup for Babbitt (who does?) as he force 'bigs' out of the paint and scores inside over smaller defenders

- David Carter doesn't have much depth at his disposal this season and the following numbers portray just that: the Wolf Pack have allowed its collective opponents to score 892 points in the first 20 minutes of games this season -- as for the second 20 minutes, it's 1,023, indicating fatigue and foul trouble lessening the number/quality of defensive stops -- can San Jose State take advantage?

Seattle wins it at the end 90-88

The Redhawks were ready for a clipping, seemingly asking for it.

But San Jose State let Seattle remain within reach and Cameron Dollar's squad eventually used a three-pointer by Taylor Olson from the right corner to capture the win 90-88.

Olson came into the contest just 13-44 from long distance but he got a comfortable, open look and buried it with just less than six seconds remaining.

Adrian Oliver, taking up residence at the foul line, scored 35 points, including 17-18 from the charity stripe. The Spartans were 30-36 as a team on free throws. Robert Owens totaled 20 points and Mac Peterson contributed 18 on the evening.

SJSU shot 52% overall to 51.5% for Seattle but the Hawks garnered 18 more attempts than the Spartans. Dollar's team owned the boards, concluding with a 37-24 advantage that included 18 at the offensive end.

Heralded Charles Garcia 'enjoyed' a much ado about nothing first half with just three points but he totaled 17 in the second 20 minutes for Seattle. Forward Alex Jones came into the game averaging just over eight a contest and finished with 17 points in 19 minutes of action. 5-foot-10 point Cervante Burrell added 14 and also tied for the team lead in rebounding with five.

The score was 84-79 when an Owens three-pointer from the left corner reduced the deficit to two. At the 2:10 mark, a pair of free throws by Oliver knotted the score.

Garcia was fouled with 1:45 remaining and he made one of two foul shots to put the Redhawks ahead by one.

With 1:29 on the clock, Oliver was fouled and connected on both attempts to boost San Jose State in the lead 86-85.

Burrell missed an awkward-looking, shotput-like jumper with 59 seconds showing and SJSU rebounded it only to turn the ball over with 30.7 seconds left.

Jones then received a pass in close from Garcia and his jumphook found the net.

15 seconds remained. The Redhawks led by one, 87-86.

Olson fouled Mac Peterson with ten ticks left and the Spartan senior buried both to put San Jose State back ahead 88-87.

The Spartans called timeout.

When play resumed, Olson caught a pass from forward Mike Boxley and put down the aforementioned game winner.

At the half, San Jose State led 42-38 and it was 14 SJSU turnovers that resulted in the limited lead.

Besides the 20+ professional scouts situated along press row, Chris Mullin was spotted in the stands. Also present were Oakland Raider linebacker Thomas Howard and a pair of Sacramento King players, Steve Hawes and Jon Brockman, who both played with Adrian Oliver when all were at Washington.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Seattle - Monday night 7 p.m. - Walt McPherson Court

Ah, Seattle University. Home of the fabulous Elgin Baylor (for us oldies) and Frank Oleynick (for the relative newbies). If those don't work, it's unlikely Eddie Miles or Clint Richardson will either.

Anyway, Coach Cameron Dollar -- the former UCLA point -- moved over from assisting Lorenzo Romar at Washington when the powers-that-be at the Jesuit school wanted to return to D-1 basketball. There is also another Dollar on the coaching staff, one Donald Dollar, Cameron's father and a longtime high school coach in Georgia.

The younger Dollar has collected some early talent:

Such as, 6-foot-9 Charles Garcia who was supposed to be a Husky but an academic issue diverted him to the Capitol Hill section of Seattle. He possesses NBA potential and will bring out the pro scouts Monday night. Plus, point Cervante Burrell, out of Sacramento, is a highly regarded team leader.

Here's probably more than would ever want to know about Garcia:

NBA Draft Prospect of the Week: Charles Garcia
December 9, 2009

Every year seemingly, a new NBA draft prospect comes out of the woodwork playing for a school that is hardly known for producing lottery picks. Our best candidate this year so far might be Charles Garcia at Seattle University.

Never heard of Seattle U? That’s not a shock, considering that this is only their second season playing Division I basketball. Although this is the alma mater of Elgin Baylor, the school is stuck in limbo as they make the transition from Division II, meaning not having any conference affiliation and being ineligible for the NCAA tournament until 2013.

Helping ease the transition significantly is the presence of one Charles Garcia, a junior college transfer from South Central LA who was denied entrance to the University of Washington for academic reasons, and instead decided to follow outgoing assistant coach Cameron Dollar across town to his new gig as head coach of Seattle. Garcia was initially slated to play at Sacramento State out of high school, but again was set back by academic issues that forced him to take the JC route.

Nine games into the season, Garcia ranks as the 3rd leading scorer amongst all NCAA prospects per-40 minutes pace adjusted, and has already helped his team notch solid wins over Fresno State, U.C. Davis and Utah, with the latter two coming on the road...

Go here for the remainder.

The Redhawks are 13-14 on the season.

Seattle's Schedule (the comparable/interesting games)

Nov 19 Fresno State 85 - 84 (W)

Dec 15 UC Irvine 82 - 81 (W)

Jan 06 @ Oregon State 99 - 48 (W)

Jan 16 Utah Valley 66 - 63 (W)

Jan 30 University of Idaho 85 - 87 (L)

Feb 18 @ University of Idaho 72 - 82 (L)

The Starting Five

6-foot-10 Charles Garcia: 19.4 ppg., 9.4 rpg., 276 free throw attempts already, 27 assists to 113 turnovers so far

6-foot-8 Gavin Gilmore: 4.3 ppg., an inside-the-paint player

6-foot-6 Aaron Broussard: 10.6 ppg., 5.3 rpg., 73 trey attempts

6-foot-5 Mike Boxley: 7.3 ppg., 70 three-pointers taken thus far, tied for first in steals

5-foot-10 Cervante Burrell: 10.8 ppg., by far the most assists on the team, shooting 49% on the season but with just seven trey attempts, tied for first in steals

The Cavalry

6-foot Garrett Lever: the son of former NBA-er, Lafayette "Fat" Lever, is a solid defender - tied for first in steals

6-foot-1 Chris Gweth: 11.7 ppg., 4.3 rpg. has taken the most three-point attempts on the team

6-foot-8 Alex Jones: 8.0 ppg., 3.4 rpg., shooting 51% overall and is fourth on the team in shot attempts despite playing just 14 minutes a game

5-10 Taylor Olson: a reserve at the point

5-foot-9 Peter Harris: ditto

The Seattle Roster, by position

Mike Boxley F 6-5 215 Sr.
Aaron Broussard F 6-5 205 So.
Adam Eakles F 6-8 210 Fr.
Charles Garcia PF 6-10 230
Gavin Gilmore F 6-8 220 So.
Alex Jones F 6-8 215 Jr.

Cervante Burrell G 5-10 170 So.
Chris Gweth G 6-1 175 Sr.
Peter Harris G 5-9 175 Jr.
Garrett Lever G 6-0 180 Jr.
Taylor Olson PG 5-10 175 Sr.

What To Expect

- Which Charles Garcia shows up? The NBA prospect or the less-than-engaged one?

- Seattle averages 80 ppg. on the season so getting up and down the floor offensively is what they want to do

- The Redhawks employ a pressing, trap defense so minimizing turnovers will be a key for San Jose State, as well as exploiting any openings provided by double teams

- Burrell earned three fouls in a 14-second span in the game against Idaho, thereby limiting Seattle's point guard efficiency and certainly the chances of winning

- As an aside, when will the Redhawks be brought back into the West Coast Conference?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

SJSU triumphs 77-66 over Montana State

With the temperature hovering around 19 degrees outside Montana State's arena, San Jose State shrugged off the frostbite-inducing conditions and caged the Bobcats 77-66 in Bozeman.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Robert Owens put the Spartans up 46-33 in the second half. Later, a Mac Peterson trey put San Jose State ahead by 14 close to the 14-minute mark.

Shortly after that, Montana State cut the difference to eight but SJSU was ahead 64-51 with 7:48 remaining in the game.

Command of the boards was one key as the Spartans were a plus 13 -- 46 to 33 -- tonight in rebounding. The scoring load was also divvied up well with Adrian Oliver leading the way with 18 points. Chris Oakes compiled a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds, Owens scored 15 and Peterson totaled 14 points, along with nine boards.

San Jose State's shooting numbers: 43% overall, 41% on three-pointers and 73% at the free throw line. In contrast, the Bobcats finished at 37% overall, 29% (on 28 three-point attempts) and 62% from the foul line.

At the half, it was 40-31 in favor of the Spartans.

San Jose State began the game like a continuation of the pre-game layup line, leading 14-9 at the 15:57 mark. The Bobcats preferred doing damage from long distance, as if behind the line was a safe haven and over it considered a no-man's-land.

But Montana State fought back, taking the lead at 23-22 until the Spartans ran off a streak of points bookended by a pair of Chris Oakes dunks.

Now it's back home to face Seattle on Monday evening.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

SJSU travels to Bozeman Saturday night

Call it the Battle in Bozeman.

Granted, such a reference doesn't have the cachet of say, The Thrilla in Manilla, but it's conference prestige on the line. Plus, the Bobcats want to defend their homecourt from an out-of-league trespasser.

Montana State is currently 13-12 overall, 7-6 in conference play and, maybe most importantly, 8-3 in home games.

Here's MSU Coach Brad Huse on the match.

Common Opponents This Season

11/14/09 at Nevada 61-75 L

11/25/09 at San Francisco W 70-66

12/4/09 Northern Colorado W 87-63

2/23/09 at Boise State 56-58 L

The Bobcat Starting Lineup

Four starters return from last season

6-foot-9 Branden Johnson: Owning 10.2 ppg. and 5.5 rpg. stats respectively, the anomaly is that he is the top three-point shot taker on the team (36%) as 124 of his 196 shot attempts have come from beyond the stripe -- he was the top student-athlete on the squad last season

6-foot-7 Bobby Howard: The leading scorer at 14.1 ppg. and second on the team in rebounding with 5.4 a contest, he shoots 52% from the floor, 33% from long range but just 56% at the foul line

6-foot-5 Erik Rush: A graduate of Milpitas High, Rush is at 11.3 and 4.3 respectively, 44% overall in shooting, 35% from three-point land

6-foot-3 Will Bynum: He is the co-leader in assists, tops in steals and averaging 8.4 ppg. but his shooting is the weakest among the starters -- 38% on the season and 22% on one three-point attempt per game -- he was the team co-defensive MVP last season

6-foot-1 Marquis Navarre: He is tied for first in assists but also has sharp shooting numbers -- 11.3 ppg. on 49% shooting and a very good 44% on his trey attempts

Every starter averages 30+ minutes per game of playing time

The Cavalry

6-foot-6 Danny Piepoli: 47% shooting , 42% on his threes (82 of his 119 shots have been trey attempts) and 83% at the foul line

6-foot-4 Austin Brown: His shooting numbers aren't strong at 37%, 29% and 48% respectively but he is tied for the team lead in blocked shots with 19

6-10 Cody Anderson: With the body of a bruiser, he remarkably has attempted a three-pointer a game

5-11 Bryan Louff: The backup at the point, he is shooting 28% on the season but 5-10 from three-point range

The Montana State Roster, by position

Will Bynum G 6-3 180 Sr.
Colt Idol G 6-3 200 Fr.
Marquis Navarre G 5-11 165 Sr.
Bryan Louff G 5-11 175 So.
Erik Rush G 6-5 210 Jr

Austin Brown F 6-4 205 So.
Jeff Budinich F 6-9 225 Fr.
Steven Davis F 6-7 225 Fr.
Cameron Henderson F 6-7 235 Sr.
Bobby Howard F 6-7 225 Jr.
Branden Johnson F 6-9 230
Danny Piepoli F 6-6 200 Jr.

Cody Anderson C 6-10 270 So.
Michel Swita C 7-0 Jr.

What To Expect

- Montana State averages 20 three-point attempts per game to 15 for SJSU -- what will these totals be on Saturday night?

- The Bobcats have committed 52 less turnovers than its collective opponents, as have the Spartans

- Averaging 68.3 points per game, Montana trails by six points or so behind San Jose State's average

Yet another Adrian Oliver feature

It seems the basketball world is finally discovering Adrian Oliver:
Q&A with San Jose State star Adrian Oliver
Diamond Leung
February 17, 2010

San Jose State is home to Adrian Oliver, the nation’s sixth-leading scorer who garnered the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s national player of the week honor last month.

That Oliver would reach those heights seemed unlikely as of two seasons ago when he abruptly transferred from Washington. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior guard showed signs of stardom last year, but was bothered by foot and knee injuries.

This year, Oliver has burned defenses for 22.5 points per game to lead the WAC in scoring and has the Spartans (12-12) in position to record their first winning season since 1994.

DL: Last month you scored a career-high 39 points against Louisiana Tech. What does being in the zone feel like?

AO: It’s really hard to explain. It’s something you start feeling. The rim gets really big, and no one on the court can really guard you. You try to make the most of it. It’s kind of special.

I don’t like how it shows at our gym; it shows players points. People know you’re one point away (from 40). I’d much rather have the win...
Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A feature on Adrian Oliver

What Spartans ask, get from Oliver: more
Vittorio Tafur
San Francisco Chronicle
February 17, 2010

Adrian Oliver dribbles as the shot clock winds down Saturday night, one defender on him and one lurking nearby. He looks for options, but there aren't any - it's hard to imagine any of his San Jose State teammates got a mention in Utah State's scouting report.

He beats his man, elevates quickly over the other defender and puts up a soft shot that rims out, just as the collision of bodies inside sends him sprawling hard to the floor. He lingers for a minute, picks himself up and heads to the free-throw line.

It is a love pat considering what Oliver's getting on the other end of the court. San Jose State is so small that the 6-foot-4 guard has to defend 6-7 power forward Tai Wesley, whose main offensive move is slamming his shoulder into Oliver.

"I have never minded the rough stuff," Oliver said. "It's fun to me to get pushed and then push back..."
Go here for the remainder.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Aggies win 81-65

With the precision of a Swiss clock and boasting uber competitiveness and basketball fundamentals, the Utah State basketball squad is very hard to deviate from its game plan as drawn up by Coach Stew Morrill. Sometimes, it takes a while for all to click especially when new parts have been installed but the timing usually flourishes as the season rolls on.

That certainly was the case tonight when the Aggies came to San Jose State and ultimately departed with an 81-65 victory.

Employing more screens than the total that cover the windows of Pentagon, USU batters and bruises individual defenders into pulp. Plus, offensive forays to the hoop are met with mixed martial arts resistance.

On the night, despite the taking turns guarding by deluxe defenders Pooh Williams and Tyler Newbold, plus also at times some zone, Adrian Oliver managed 28 points.

Looking like an average Joe but taller, Nate Bendall proved to be a thorn in the side of the Spartans all night with 18 points (8-13 shooting) in 28 minutes of play. In fact, every Aggie shot well, going 14-26 and then 15-21 as a team in the two halves respectively, finishing at a remarkable 61.7% on the night.

The Spartans led 9-7 at the initial timeout. But Utah State forged ahead 20-15, then 27-16 and 31-22 with 3:54 remaining in the initial 20 minutes.

At the half, Utah State was on top 36-29. Faced with SJSU's four guard and a center quintet, the Aggies didn't take a shot outside the paint until Quayle put one up from just around 16 feet around the 15 minute mark.

A teardrop from Oliver cut the point differential to 39-33 early in the second half but USU went ahead 45-35 at the 15:56 mark.

With 12;28 showing, a Wesley layup made it 53-37. The Spartans fought back to close the gap to 72-61 with 3:20 remaining but smart ball by the Aggies carried the remainder of the half.

One aspect that elevates the efficiency of the Aggie offense is the passing ability of Tai Wesley at the four spot. With most centers and powers forwards, the ball enters a black hole upon reception, never to be passed from. Wesley totaled five assists tonight. Plus, Tyler Newbold -- the Aggie off-guard -- was credited with a team-leading six assists and nary a turnover.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Utah State here on Saturday night

The Utah State basketball Aggies aren't exactly a force that sends shivers down the spines of PAC-10, Big East, Big 10, ACC and Southeastern Conference basketball fans.

That's their ignorance.

Of course and for good W-L reasons, none of the respective head coaches at those schools will come to Logan for a game or even agree to a home-and-home series. They know better and luckily -- for them -- they don't have to make such a deal. It's Maslow's self-preservation need in orange spherical form.

Western Athletic Conference fans are the ones in the know about Aggie power. Always tough -- mentally and physically -- and displaying fundamental skills, Coach Stew Morrill's squads possess solid basketball talent but also demonstrate the synergy of the sum being greater than the individual parts.

Especially this season when probably none of the Aggies will earn first-team All-WAC honors.

For example, take the recent game where Nevada traveled to Logan for a rematch after a late loss at home. The Wolf Pack were led by Luke Babbitt's 20 points (plus nine boards) and 19 from Armon Johnson, shot 44% overall and also swatted away nine Aggie shot attempts.

In contrast, Utah State shot 39.7%.

So how did Coach Morrill's team win 76-65?

Try just four USU turnovers.

Add in that Nevada shot but eight free throws.

Additionally, Utah State won the battle of the boards 43-33, with 21 of those rebounds coming at the offensive end.

All this illustrates that the Aggies 'get over' opposing teams in multiple manners, thereby enhancing the odds of nabbing victories. They might not wow anyone but they'll whip you.

They will be at Walt McPherson Court on Saturday evening, arriving on a nine-game WAC win streak.

Here is what happened the last time (January 30) SJSU and USU met:

"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 -- the Spartans having gone through an 0-5 shooting stretch while the Aggies went 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 shooting) and Peterson contributed 11 (3-12 shooting) -- the same 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."

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 vs. Boise State W, 81-59
1/21/10 @ Fresno State W, 69-43
1/23/10 @ Idaho W, 60-48
1/30/10 vs. San Jose State W, 77-58
2/03/10 vs. Idaho W, 80-62
2/06/10 vs. Nevada W, 76-65

Utah State's Starting Five

6-foot-9 Nate Bendall - He's the replacement for Gary Wilkinson, smaller and certainly not as dominant but he plays smart.

6-foot-7 Tai Wesley - Call him the enforcer on the court, he's also the best Aggie inside shooter and rebounder at 12.1 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 -- a 42% shooter from long range yet just 55% from the foul line

6-foot-4 Tyler Newbold - Not necessarily a creator, he's more a long distance shooter as two thirds of his shots are trey attempts and he's in just the teens in foul line shots -- he is also good on the boards at six a game

6-foot-1 Jared Quayle - the second leader scorer for the Aggies at 11.3 ppg, he shoots the most on the team and is at 42% overall, plus 43% from long range (half of his shots are three-pointers) -- what is surprising is that he's taken just 13 foul shots in 10 games

The Cavalry

6-foot-8 Brady Jardine - the most athletic of the Aggies -- possessing a 43-inch vertical -- he's enjoying a strong second half streak in WAC play, thereby giving Morrill another frontcourter in the rotation

6-10 Modou Niang - he is from Senegal but attended high school in Japan -- playing very little since Jardine upped his production

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

6-foot-1 Brian Green - He's more 5-foot-11 but a vocalizer/leader on the court and someone who will bury the open trey -- Green is shooting 67% (20-30) on three-pointers in WAC action

The improvement of Jardine and Green has solidified the Aggie rotation and lessned the need for others to play too many minutes.

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

What To Expect

The Spartans will emerge bruised at the very least post-game due to the number of screens Utah State runs defenders through

- It's near impossible to get the Aggies out of the offensive rhythm and speed they wish to play at so it's paramount to contest as many shots as possible, minimizing open looks

- Morrill's squad is shooting 50% in WAC action while holding opponents to 41%, plus 44% to 31% from three-point range while managing a +58 in overall rebounding numbers -- the Spartans need to make those numbers much closer

- USU doesn't force a lot of turnovers -- the numbers are even in league play -- so such shouldn't be much of a factor on Saturday

- Pooh Williams will more than likely be named the top defender in the WAC and he'll make Adrian Oliver work for shots/points -- who else will step up as point producers on Saturday for San Jose State?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Derek Brown update

We missed this earlier:
Chino Champion
January 22, 2010

Chino Hills High guard Derek Brown scored 22 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 58 seconds left, as the Huskies rallied from two nine-point deficits and escaped with a 53-51 win over Los Alamitos Monday afternoon at the
“I Have A Dream” showcase at Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga. Eighteen teams participated in the day-long event.

Brown, headed to San Jose State University in the fall, finished with five 3-pointers in the win. Chino Hills, the No. 2 ranked team in CIF-Southern Section Division 1A, improved to 17-2 overall.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

New Mexico State wins 94-82

Let's take the OK Corral out of Tombstone and place it in the wild west of Las Cruces. The Earps (host New Mexico State this time) versus the Clanton Gang (San Jose State), lots of firepower on both sides.

When the gun smoke cleared, it was the Aggies winning 94-82.

Robert Owens led the Spartans with a career-high 29 points, shooting 10-15 overall (7-12 on threes). He was 'en fuego' until the last minutes when he missed his final three trey attempts. Adrian Oliver contributed 22 while Chris Oakes earned a double-double of 14 points and 10 boards.

Jahmar Young topped New Mexico State with 25 points and Jonathan Gibson was right behind with 20. In his first game of the season, Troy Gillenwater provided a double-double of 19 points and 11 boards -- all in just 21 minutes of action.

The Aggies led by 12 soon after the second 20 minutes began but a pair of three-pointers by Owens made it 56-52 at the 14:55 mark. A little later on, Owens' trey and foul shot (he was fouled) cut the deficit to three at 61-58.

The pattern was the Aggies extending the lead and San Jose State drawing back close but SJSU could never tie or go ahead.

A Mac Peterson three with 7:55 remaining put the score at 76-71.

With around five minutes left, San Jose State sagged a bit and the Aggies expanded the point differential to 10 at 83-73 before closing out matters.

At the half, it was 49-42 in favor of New Mexico State. A Gillenwater and1 three-point play put the score at 20-12 Aggies but an Oakes dunk brought SJSU to within a pair of points at 34-32. The effect of NMSU's three-quarter court press was negligible.

As a team, San Jose State shot 43% overall, 11-23 on trey attempts and 9-14 from the foul line. The Aggies were sharper though with 52% overall shooting, 10-21 from long distance and 18-24 at the charity stripe. The 21 three-point shots were a far cry from the 38 New Mexico State attempted in the earlier game between these two teams in San Jose.

By the way, Idaho traveled to Boise tonight and slammed the Broncos 79-55. This despite Mac Hopson scoring just 11 points and Steffon Johnson six. The Vandals led 43-19 at the half.

Host Utah State led 39-35 over Nevada after the initial 20 minutes and just won 76-65.

Friday, February 5, 2010

It's at New Mexico State on Saturday night

No one -- well, at least those not certifiably consumed by fan-dom -- understands that New Mexico State lives on its offensive firepower. When in the midst of a free-flowing streak, it's quite the sight to behold -- unless you are a defender or an opposing coach. Louisiana Tech found that out the hard way the other night in a 91-77 loss -- in Ruston at that -- to the Aggies. The 91 markers were 20 above what LT usually allows.

But there are obviously other aspects to basketball -- defending, rebounding and possession efficiency among quite the number -- that aren't as enjoyable as participatory actions as shooting the rock. When New Mexico State loses, it usually because of faltering on the backboards (the Aggies are last in the WAC in rebounding margin) or allowing an opponent to find the bottom of the net a bit too often or carelessness with the rock.

But here's a portion of an article about the Aggies of late:

Recent roll has seen Aggies win 10 of 12
Teddy Feinberg, Las Cruces Sun-News Sports Editor

You wouldn't expect to hear it from a team ranked last in the Western Athletic Conference in points allowed per game.

But the New Mexico State Aggie men's basketball team believes one of the main reasons it has won 10 of its last 12 games, including six of its first eight WAC contests, is because of its defense.

"Just having a defensive mindset," junior forward Wendell McKines said. "Having our buckets come off the defensive end. Overall we're playing harder, playing together."

Head coach Marvin Menzies said that despite surrendering 78.7 points per game, the Aggies have improved on the defensive end of the floor as the season has gone along. And part of their offensive success — the team is averaging 77.7 points per contest, third best in the conference — is because of their defensive efforts.

"I think our defensive stats are a little misleading," Menzies said. "It's easy to lie with statistics. You can say, well, we're last in the conference in points given up. But we're also turning people over a lot more, we're making people play uncomfortable in terms of the type of pressure we're applying. They're scoring, but we're scoring more right now. Last time I checked, that's how the game gets measured."

During the Aggies recent run of success — which has spanned more than a month — the team has turned the ball over less and held its own in the rebounding department.

After experiencing double-digit turnover numbers in 17 of their first 18 games of the season — including 31 against New Mexico and 20 against UCLA early in the year — the Aggies have committed nine, six and eight turnovers in their past three contests.

"Guys are used to playing with each other and are more in sync with each other," Menzies said. "Your early-season woes, they're always going to exist. It's a matter of whether you can weather the storm. Cutting the turnovers down, as far as the overall emphasis of taking care of the ball, making 100 percent passes, not gambling, we identified them as a problem early, addressed it and, as a a result, the players are reaping the benefits of taking care of the pill..."

Here's an excerpt of our game report from the 93-84 Spartan home win on January 23:

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 total of the first 20 minutes.

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)
Jan 23 @ San Jose State 84 - 93 (L)
Jan 30 @ Louisiana Tech 91 - 77 (W)

The Aggie Starting Quintet

6-foot-11 Hamidu Rahman - he is blossoming, having scored 22 points (10-15 shooting) and grabbed 12 boards (seven offensive) versus Magnum Rolle on January 30

6-foot-6 Wendell McKines - expect a double-double, with maybe a trey in the mix

6-foot-5 Jahmar Young - he possesses a shooting range best described as long, longer and longest and he can create his own shot plus shoot over most defenders

6-foot-1 Jonathan Gibson - Gibson didn't shoot well the last time against SJSU -- will that repeat or not?

6-foot-1 Hernst LaRoche - we see him as the best point in the WAC at delivering the ball with the fewest blips

The Cavalry

6-foot-8 Troy Gillenwater - this will be his first game of the season so how much does he play and what does he produce? Gillenwater certainly provides an upgrade of the frontcourt talent coming off the bench -- he averaged 12 ppg. and 5 rpg. as a frosh

6-foot-5 Gordo Castillo - he is a three-point marksman, period -- best in the role of catch-and-shoot -- he scored 17 points against LA TECH, going 5-6 from three-point range

6-foot-5 Tyrone Watson - he brings energy, hustle and muscle 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 is making progress as a freshman

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 Watch For

- Gillenwater absolutely 'ups' the Aggie talent level -- that's indisputable -- but who loses minutes due to his availability and will that be a smooth transition or a wrinkly onee?

- It's hard to imagine that the Spartans will enjoy a +17 shooting percentage over the Aggies again, plus it's a road game, so how does San Jose State 'make up' for being at a lesser advantage?

- We offer this guarantee or your money back: the Aggies will not hoist 38 three-point attempts (53.5% of their shots) -- at least not while Coach Marvin Menzies is alive and on the bench

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Louisiana Tech wins 71-64

The San Jose State basketball squad has never listened to Hank Williams Sr., at least not Williams' "Jumbalaya" song. The one with the line "...son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou..."

That's apparent because after falling behind 15-0 to open the game, the Spartans fought back, getting within three points. But Tech wouldn't relinquish the lead and the Bulldogs won 71-64.

Adrian Oliver led the Spartans with 20 points (8-17, 6-6 from the charity stripe), with Justin Graham contributing 15. Magnum Rolle topped Tech with 21 points (8-14 from the floor, 5-5 at the foul line) and Kyle Gibson wasn't far behind with 18.

SJSU cut LT's lead to 50-47 with a 10-0 run around the nine-minute mark of the second half. But the Bulldogs stood fast as Jamel Guyton buried a trey and then one of two free throws and Gibson added a deuce to make it 56-47 with 7:10 remaining.

Later on, a Graham steal and layup made it 60-54 but again Louisiana Tech maintained. Graham also made a pair of free throws to reduce the difference to four at 62-58 but that's the closest San Jose State could pull within late in the game.

After 20 minutes, it was 34-26 in favor of the Bulldogs.

One first half play must be noted: on Louisiana Tech's last possession, forward David Jackson was between the half court line and the top of the circle when he turned and threw the ball towards the basket with one second on the shot clock. It went in, adding three points to the Tech lead.

Actually, make that two instances because Guyton was credited with three points on a banked trey in the initial 20 minutes -- call it a home bounce or roll, not to be confused with a Magnum one.

For the Spartans, at least the jambalaya, crawfish pie and filé gumbo must have tasted good.

As for final team numbers, San Jose State out-rebounded LT 32-30. SJSU shot 42% overall, made 11-12 free throws and went 3-14 from long distance. LT shot 46%, connected on 14-19 free throws and 3-12 from three-point range. The Spartans had 16 turnovers to 14 for the Bulldogs.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

San Jose State at Louisiana Tech Thursday night

Okay, it's rematch time.

Louisiana Tech came to Walt McPherson Court on January 21 riding high, with momentum flowing as the top team in the WAC.

They got spanked.

Here's what we wrote post-game:

"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."

So it was fine shooting for the Spartans and Kyle Gibson's foul trouble that particularly paved the way -- in an abbreviated analysis that would humble the length of any tweet from Twitter.

In Louisiana Tech's last game, at home versus New Mexico State, the Bulldogs allowed 91 points. Here is our brief summary, followed by a writeup from the LT athletics site:

New Mexico State handled Louisiana Tech 91-77 in Ruston. That should definitely make some noise. 91 points? Wow!

It was 48-43 Aggies at the half. Hamidu Rahman led with a double-double of 22 points (10-15 shooting) and 12 rebounds, Jamar Young tossed in 19 and Gordo Castillo scored 17 points in 19 minutes, based on his 5-6 three-point shooting. Magnum Rolle's 27/15 double-double went for naught while Kyle Gibson added 22 points but was a cold 3-12 from long distance. Jamel Guyton shot 1-10 including going scoreless on five trey attempts.


January 30, 2010

RUSTON, La. - For the first time in 12 games, Louisiana Tech lost at home as they fell to a hot-shooting New Mexico State 91-77 on Saturday at the Thomas Assembly Center.

The Bulldogs fell to 18-4 overall and 6-2 in the Western Athletic Conference while the Aggies improved to 13-8 overall and 6-2 in the WAC. They joined Utah State to make it a three-way tie for first place in the conference.

"We were in first place and when a team comes in, they are going to fight to knock us out," Tech head coach Kerry Rupp said. "We didn't play with the hunger and the fire that we had recently. We've just got to get back to work."

Prior to the game, NMSU had shot 43.9 percent from the field, the Aggies shot 37-of-69 for 53.6 percent on Saturday. Tech was 30-for-75 for 40 percent.

Senior Magnum Rolle led all scorers with 27 points and 15 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season. Rolle played 40 minutes for the second-straight game. Senior Kyle Gibson had 23 points and junior DeAndre Brown scored 16.

"We got off to a bad start and we can't do that against a good team," Rupp said. "They disrupted us with some pressure and the next time we face them we have to handle that better."

The Bulldogs fell behind 16-5 as they were just 2-of-11 from the field over the first seven minutes of play. Tech shot 18-for-28 for the remainder of the half and cut the deficit to two, but couldn't take a lead. The Aggies shot 51.3 percent (20-for-39) in the first half and went in to halftime with a 48-43 lead.

New Mexico State sank eight of their first nine shots taken in the second half and led 67-54 six minutes in. They continued their torrid shooting and led by as much as 19 mid-way through before winning by 14.

"We didn't get back on defense and gave up way too many easy baskets," Rupp said. "We took some bad shots and they came back and got something easy."

Jahmar Young scored 19 points and Hamidu Rahman had 22 as four Aggies scored in double-figures. NMSU outscored the Tech bench 24-0.

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
1/21/10 at San Jose State L, 87-76
1/23/10 at Hawai'i W, 65-60
1/30/10 vs. New Mexico State L, 91-77

The Bulldog Starting Five

It's the starting five that have to do the job for Louisiana Tech.

6-foot-10 Magnum Rolle - His scoring and rebounding numbers have gotten better this season both overall and since league play began.

6-foot-7 Olu Ashaolu - Ashaolu is a bull down in the paint and can put up 20 points and grab 10 boards on his better nights

6-foot-5 Kyle Gibson - The centerpiece of the team, Tech goes as Gibson goes. He can create plus shoot inside and outside

6-foot-3 Jamel Guyton - Generally a long range shooter, he benefits from the defensive attention especially focused on Gibson and somewhat on Rolle

5-foot-11 DeAndre Brown - His play and numbers have also improved since non-conference action

The Cavalry

6-foot-8 David Jackson - Jackson does a little bit of everything, is comfortable with his role and pops up every so often with double figure scoring. He averages 20 minutes of playing time but sat out -- not in uniform -- the loss to New Mexico State due to some unspecified infraction

6-foot-0 Yonas Berhe - A fill-in at the point -- not a major minutes player

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 - He is playing very little this season as Kerry Rupp shifts Olu Ashaolu into the middle if Magnum Rolle gets into foul trouble

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:

The Bulldogs obviously want revenge to be on the menu and also will be looking to regain respect after a defensive debacle at home against NMSU

- Kyle Gibson is just a very tough matchup so the key seems to be to make him work for his points while 'containing' the other Bulldogs -- not letting anyone go off on a career night

- LT is currently third in defensive scoring average in the WAC at 72 points per game so were New Mexico State's 91 points and San Jose State's total of 87 anomalies or signs of defensive weaknesses being exposed? Tech is second in the conference in field goal percentage defense at 446%.

- C.J. Webster will be available for this matchup, giving San Jose State greater depth upfront