Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's R-R-R-R-Rant Time

We realize it's not a simple either/or proposition but we are fed up:

As a San Jose State basketball fan, how would you feel if Coach Nessman brought in a signee fresh off being found guilty of driving a friend across state lines to rob a bank while also providing the short-barreled rifle involved in the attempt?

What would your take be if Coach Nessman continued to play a 6-foot-9 star player despite that individual being accused of robbing a pizza delivery worker based upon being ID-ed plus also witnessed answering his cell phone when the deliverer saw him in a shopping mall a day later and dialed up the number left by the individual who ordered the pizza?

Would it work for you if SJSU got to the Big Dance every year but also was accused of eight major violations and two assistants 'decided' to resign after being accused of telling lies to NCAA investigators?

Or if our school AD hired and them promoted a handful of individuals who ended up running a multi-million dollar ticket scam while the AD was being paid $4.4 million a year -- yes, $85,000 a week in 2009? Plus, it took the IRS or the FBI (or both) to inform said AD of what was happening in his kingdom.

How about if Coach Nessman -- despite previous recruiting and player scandals involving payoffs and academic sleight of hand (to be overly generous) involving certain of his players at School X and School Y that resulted in vacating victories -- landing a freshman who originally wanted to go play for a recent national champion and was wanted at this SEC school -- no, we aren't talking Vanderbilt by a long shot -- until the coaching staff at said school realized his high school academics weren't good enough and reports were floating around about this player's high school coach having a hand out seeking major benjamins?

Would it be cool if a more than embarrassing number of athletes at SJSU were convicted of drunk driving, public inebriation or carrying a gun on to campus to confront a couple of players in another sport and got the gun from a teammate, one of the stars on the team?

We are hoping -- but not sure -- that the overwhelming answer is OF COURSE NOT, regardless of any tremendous W-L 'successes' engendered by any of these actions.

As fans, we will neither make nor support any sort of Faustian bargain that involves lessening what we stand for or our school's integrity.

But before we come off sounding like a married male Republican devoutly proclaiming abstinence as the only answer prior to marriage and filming a promotion of such with a female aide while having an affair with her, no, we are not perfect. Never have been, never will be. Nor will we designate every single basketball player we have witnessed since Coach Nessman came aboard as boy scout material.

It's that we are beyond tired of the scummy behavior too often prevailing in NCAA athletics. But more so, we are enraged that such individuals are heralded -- only if they win much more often than they lose, that being the sole measuring stick -- by fans, school supporters, the monolithic see-no-evil-just-dollar-signs television networks, the NCAA (and its quest for ever more grater cash opportunities) and so on.

However, cheat yet lose and you won't have to wait long for the brunt of scorn and derision to the nth degree.

Moral: be a very good cheater. Learn by working for the best.

Yes, there are countless reasons why this scandalous situation exists and we're not issuing another worthless call for anyone involved to change.

However, we are adamantly supporting doing college sports the right way -- fairly and honestly earning the fruits of competition, including wins. That's how we want San Jose State University athletics to operate -- and this is where some may diverge -- victories be damned. Call us relatives of Little Mary Sunshine but we will forever believe success in all its definitions is still attainable -- Ws included -- by operating in an above-board manner.

This is how San Jose State does it.

Yes, there obviously are schools not operating in such a fashion -- even within the Western Athletic Conference. Yes, they may (or may not) win more on the field, court, pool, diamond, etc. than the Spartans and the official record books will indicate this 'truth' for time immemorial (or until someone is caught)

But for those involved in college athletics with a conscience or just the remnants or even stray beginnings of one, they will always know they either cheated in a tainted victory OR that they gave their best and either won or fell short on the scoreboard. It's ultimately all about and up to the individual, be it player, coach, AD, fan, league president, et al.

We are grateful SJSU athletics continues to choose the path of greater resistance -- the right way.

Congratulations to Justin Graham

Justin Graham has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from San Jose State this month but he isn't slowing down. Justin has already started his first two master's degree classes in the Kinesiology program. If all goes as planned, he will be departing after next season with a Master's in hand. Congratulations to Justin for the one in the hand and the one on the way -- quite the achievements.

Congratulations to Chris Oakes

We offer a major salute to Chris Oakes who graduated this month from San Jose State with a degree in African - American Studies. Congratulations to Chris on his achievement and look for him to land on a basketball team overseas before too long.

Congratulations to Mac Peterson

Mac Peterson, a three-season Spartan, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies this month. We still remember the semester when Mac was enrolled in 21 units, in addition to playing basketball. We salute him on his achievement.

Remember Ward Farris?

In a blast from the past, Ward Farris has also earned his Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies this month.Ward played football and basketball from 1982 to 1986 for SJSU. We still recall his alley-oop dunks -- despite measuring in at 6-foot-2, at the San Jose Civic. Congratulations to Ward for coming back and getting that degree.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Happy Birthday

Word on the street is that a certain San Jose State Spartan is celebrating birthday #19 today. We recently caught a photo of him sporting the appropriate color.

While the Black Mamba remains Moor's fave, there is another player arriving front and center in the NBA -- Boston's Rajon Rondo -- who is maximizing his opportunities in the current battle between the Celtics and the Cavaliers and certainly worthy of co-allegiance.
The unheralded 6-foot-2, 190 Rondo averaged career highs in points (13.7), assists (9.8) and steals (2.3) this regular season but has gone off the chain of late. Try averaging a mindbending 21.8 points, 13 assists and 8.3 rebounds playing the point in the NBA playoffs.

What excites us is that SpartanHoops sees some Beantown - SJSU personnel similarities.

Such as, Moor checks in at an athletic 6-foot-3 and 190. He plays the point. Defensively oriented, with a pass-first mindset offensively, he can score but prefers setting up teammates. His court style is of an aggressive, physical nature.

We see emulation -- especially here -- as a good thing.

Thanks to Rondo, R-and-R is now standing for much more than rest-and-recovery. Here's hoping A-and-M undergoes a similar re-definition.

Monday, May 10, 2010

All about C.J. Webster

Hopefully, most will think of the following as a counterweight to the reservoir of misinformation, innuendo and downright falsehoods swirling around C.J. Webster's decision to forego his sixth year of college eligibility.

Setting his career numbers straight.

After an abbreviated-by injury-season at Texas State as a freshman and than a very brief stint at Arkansas Fort Smith (formerly a junior college) for the same reason, Webster transferred to San Jose State.

In 2007-2008 during WAC play, he shot .545% from the floor while putting up 12.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists a game in 27.4 minutes per game.

His production in 2008-2009: 12.6 points, 7.4 boards and 2.5 assists while shooting .485% in 32.2 minutes a contest.

This season brought 19 minutes of floor time each time out (with four conference games missed due to a severe eye injury) resulting in 9.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists each matchup. He shot .644% from the floor.

Webster played (or tried to play, referring to his initial pair of seasons) five years after his high school career concluded at Thurgood Marshall High in Missouri City, Texas.

So why did he choose to forego his last year of collegiate eligibility?

Nobody but C.J. really knows what was woven into the fabric of his decision.

What is known is that he became a father during last season.

Plus, he certainly endured a tough 2010 sports year what with a severe eye abrasion against the Fresno State Bulldogs -- something that limited his game participation from that point on and also negatively impacted his playing time once he returned.

Here are Webster's 2009-2010 WAC numbers preceding that January 11 game against Fresno State and then the remainder of the season:

* Idaho, January 4, a three-point SJSU victory at home: 32 minutes, 21 points, 11 rebounds and two fouls.

* Nevada, January 9, a 29-point loss on the road: 24 minutes, 15 points, three boards and four fouls.

Then came the eye injury and Webster missed league games against Boise State, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State before returning to action against Hawaii.

In his return versus UH, Webster played 16 minutes, with four points, two rebounds and four fouls in a starting role.

* Versus Utah State, his production in 18 minutes was eight points and a pair of boards, alongside a pair of fouls in another starting role.

* In a road game against Montana State, Webster played 11 minutes with two points, three rebounds and a trio of fouls but not as a member of the starting five, as he came off the bench in this contest and for the remainder of the season.

* When SJSU faced Nevada again, he played 17 minutes and scored nine points, grabbed four boards and committed four fouls.

* In the rematch against Fresno State, Webster played 17 minutes again, produced seven points, six rebounds and three fouls.

* Likewise against Idaho with 24 minutes on the court resulting in 17 points, nine boards and four fouls.

* 24 minutes versus Boise State produced this: 24 minutes, six points, one rebound and a pair of fouls.

* In the WAC tourney matched up with New Mexico State, Webster had eight points, two boards and five fouls in 20 minutes.

The non-numbers/what we witnessed

* C.J.'s effectiveness defensively and offensively was proportionate to his weight -- less was more. Part of this was simply because he could play longer and remain a positive factor with less poundage carried.

* C.J.'s value as a defender in the paint lessened over his tenure with Chris Oakes superior in the middle in both blocking and altering opponents shooting attempts. In the best-of-all-world's department, a composite of Oakes' length and C.J.'s strength would have been the ideal. Plus, C.J's. employment at the four spot paid less dividends when his matchup possessed outside-the-paint shooting range or dribble-drive ability. His court movement definitely slowed this season and his foul totals increased because he was reaching rather than moving.

* C.J. remained a bull in the paint on offense, knocking around defenders and creating shooting space throughout his Spartan tenure. We would have liked to see use of the dropstep and up and under moves but he scored points regardless and shot .644% in his final go-around.

We hope this is viewed as a fair screening -- we believe it is but readers will make up their own minds. Our bottomline is that we wish C.J.and his new family well and we appreciate what he accomplished at San Jose State.

Carpe diem, C.J. Go all out and hook up with John Lucas or someone in a similar capacity back in Houston because it will pay off in both monetary and playing longevity manners. Reshape the body and add to your skills set.

We'll end with this snippet from a 2010 San Francisco Chronicle article on Omar Samhan: Good or great? [Randy] Bennett and [Kyle] Smith had gotten the line from ESPN's Doug Gottlieb, who said it at a St.Mary's camp. Samhan put together a solid freshman season, averaging 9.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, and Bennett and Smith wanted to turn solid into something special. Samhan began going to the gym at 6 a.m. to shoot for an hour and then lift weights for another hour before heading to class. Smith usually accompanied him in those early morning sessions."The night before," Samhan said, "I'd text coach Kyle, 'Are we going tomorrow?' and he'd just text me back, 'Good or great?' and I knew that meant we were on. 'I'll see you at 6.' "

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Looking backwards and forwards

Hey, it's your long awaited, much debated, syncopated, qualitative look backwards and forwards at San Jose State hoops:

People sometimes wish both basketball season and individual game outcomes were as predictable as some of those "the whole building is about to collapse anytime now" toxic bundles Goldman Sachs profited from by first purchasing AAA ratings and then simultaneously selling and hedging against their waste products.

But they aren't.

That's what makes it interesting, frustrating, exhilarating and head-banging -- like that box of chocolates the Tom Hanks character referenced in Forrest Gump."

So let's look back instead at San Jose State hoops. What do the key numbers tell us about the 2009-2010 season?


SJSU shot a remarkable .462% (fourth) overall, an equally outstanding .399% on treys (second, on 296 attempts) in WAC action.

The numbers for the previous season were 448% (fourth) overall and .309% (eighth, on 220 attempts) respectively.

That's an obvious improvement in both categories -- make that a spectacular upgrade in three-point accuracy, despite 76 more shots.

Obviously, the steps forward in three-point shooting by Mac Peterson and Robert Owens in 2009-2010 significantly and positively effected the Spartan shooting numbers, especially from long distance.

For the sake of reference, 2009-2010 conference winner Utah State was off in the ozone, far ahead of anyone else with .502% overall shooting. The Aggies also shot .404% beyond the stripe.


The Spartan defenders allowed opponents to shoot .471% (eighth) overall in conference play, .396% (ninth) on trey attempts.

The numbers for the previous season: .483% (ninth) overall and 408% (ninth) respectively.

These figures also obviously indicate some improvement in each category.

Again for reference, Utah State led conference action with a remarkable 404% shooting percentage defense.

Now turnovers are a trickier figure. The Spartans were the only WAC squad with less than 10 turnovers 'created' a game -- 9.8 -- but WAC champ Utah State finished at a barely better 10.8.

San Jose State also was last in steals at 4.5 a game. Deflections are typically more important since they occur much more frequently but unfortunately the WAC doesn't post this category.


We have previously placed emphasis on rebounding margins. We aren't yet willing to discard this number but Boise State confoundedly finished third, Hawaii fourth and Idaho fifth in rebounding margin for 2009-2010 -- yet that's not close to where these respective teams finished in league play (eighth, ninth and sixth respectively).

San Jose State was in the minus this past season at -1.6 after finishing first in 2008-2009 at +5.6.

Playing 'small ball' contributed to this as did the coinciding absence of C.J. Webster for a number of games.


Much more accurate offensive firepower was applied by San Jose State in 2009-2010. But now Peterson and Owens are bereft of any remaining eligibility so who can step up/step in for the 2010-2011 season? It seems unlikely SJSU will attempt as many treys as put up in the recently concluded season or shoot as well but Adrian Oliver can be counted on, Justin Graham (more on him later) will end up with 20 or so treys in league play and junior college newcomer Calvin Douglas also has some proficiency from long distance.

The defensive statistics were better during the past season but not where they need to be in order to facilitate a first-division finish. In fact, more than half the teams in the WAC need better field goal defensive percentage numbers in order to make the conference more competitive in non-league matchups. We see more aggressiveness -- especially if certain pieces fall into place -- from both the Spartan front and backcourters next season.

With rebounding, look for the boarding numbers to be rightsized in 2010-2011 although probably not to the previous +5.6 level. We do predict no deficit number in 2010-2011.

Here is where we begin the l-o-o-k f-o-r-w-a-r-d and break down the Spartan personnel. Yes, there will be another recruit or two added but we didn't want to wait:


Derek Brown 6-0 180 FR

Supremely confident, Brown is a trickster with the ball. He won't wow anyone with elite athleticism but he can handle and shoot and is the son of a coach -- so he understands the game.

Anthony Dixon G 6-5 195 SO

AD: your assignment is to add 20-25 pounds before next season rolls around. The WAC is more physical than most give credit and the ability to eliminate being pushed around both offensively and defensively is generally job one for underclassmen. There is a lot of potential here but it's based on his ability to get and maintain the positions he needs for proficient play.

Calvin Douglas 6-3 190 JR

Taking and nailing the open trey look plus providing better defensive play at the wing than that of last season are Douglas' primo assignments and certainly within his capabilities.

Justin Graham G 6-4 195 SR

His two most remarkable stats: shooting 52% in league play despite nary a three-point shot. Yes, you read that correctly -- he didn't attempt a single three-pointer while averaging 8.5 points per game. How did both those numbers -- theoretically somewhat at odds because defenders sloughed off him in an effort to defend his dribble-drive penetrations -- happen? Graham was over his previous wrist ailment but the rest and recuperation necessary following his operations put the kibosh on his shooting practice. Here's hoping both his wrist and practice repetitions are fully functioning in 2010-2011. He's not a potent three-point marksmen but has previously displayed the ability to down the open trey attempt.

Chris Jones G 6-4 205 SO

It was mostly a lost season for Jones but he certainly has the capability of bouncing back strong. He still possesses the best defensive potential on the team and displayed enough of a knack for burying the open shot in his brief times on the floor. A better sense of what is accomplishable on his dribble-drives would really up his offensive effectiveness.

Aalim Moor 6-3 190 SO

He and Jones are the two guys who could lead a defensive renaissance for SJSU. Plus, the breaking in (or more) of a new point is necessary for now and especially future seasons.

Adrian Oliver 6-4 210 SR What can he do for an encore? Maybe it's quibbling, maybe it's not but Oliver can better his 54/50 assist-to-turnover ratio. A lesser need for him to make something happen will enlarge the distance between his positive-negative a/t numbers. Having some new 'bigs' who have the ability to pick away from the paint and then pop a shot should help in creating more options to shoot, pass or penetrate.

Keith Shamburger 6-0 180 FR

More than likely, someone in this group will redshirt and one of the two freshman backcourters is the likeliest of candidates. We don't think it will be Shamburger who should see time off the bench in both ballhandling and shooting guard roles.


Wil Carter
6-8 210 JR

Carter will be at the 3 and 4 spots. For defensive purposes, we would like to see 15 pounds of muscle added to his frame so as to insure his effectiveness and presence. What he will add offensively to the mix is something heretofore unseen in Spartan play: the ability to come out on top, set a screen for one of the guards and roll to an open spot to receive a pass and hit the jumper.

Joe Henson F 6-8 245 SO

He's still fairly unknown but should be on the court much more this coming season. What we want to see is assertiveness developing in his offensive and defensive play.

Brylle Kamen 6-7 235 SO

Kamen can also play inside and out but it looks right now that he'll become one-with-the-paint for SJSU. Our other sense is that he will become a fan favorite based upon his style of play, oui?

Kyle Thomas F 6-8 225 JR

Thomas has yet to display the potential seen by many during the summer of his junior year and his senior season in high school. He's looking like a tweener and needs to develop a particular standout skill -- one that he can proverbially hang his hat on.

Moses Omolade F 6-8 200 JR

We are really pulling for a positive adjudication of his eligibility because he would add missing elements: shotblocking, a strong defensive effort within the paint, rebounding prowess and a willingness to run the floor. Right now, there is no one else on the roster who brings that to the court.


Jerry Casey
F 6-8 195 FR
Garrett Ton 6-8 222 JR


* The Spartan frontcourt will offer much greater versatility this coming season as both Carter and Kamen, if needed, can shoot away from and facing the basket. Plus, each will both offer better potential for defending opposing 'bigs' who might venture further away from the basket offensively at times, a la Troy Gillenwater of New Mexico State. Thankfully, Luke Babbitt is gone or he would be another name here.

* One concern is defending the 'power bigs' but luckily there aren't many of those in the WAC. New Mexico State's Hamidu Rahman falls into this category, Nevada's Illiwa Baldwin is possibly another. Louisiana Tech has signed a 270-pounder. However, none of these are big point producers.

* The SJSU backcourt/wing positions have plenty of firepower and offensive options -- what is needed is greater efficiency per possession. Who on the roster will move front and center in making opposing teams pay for their respective defensive obsessions on Adrian Oliver?

* Plus who will lead the defensive effort? Our sense is that playing time will be for the taking for those able to bring an aggressive defensive presence to San Jose State basketball. A willingness to make contact, establish a physical presence and bang, to seamlessly rotate as much as possible, to wisely double-team -- basically being strong and playing smart -- is a critical element needed for Spartan success.

This will be an interesting change

Anything that makes the WAC regular season carry additional weight seems fair and is fine with us:
WAC proposes top seeds be placed into semifinals
Ferd Lewis
Honolulu Advertiser

The Western Athletic Conference is studying a proposal that would give its top two seeded men's and women's basketball teams byes into the semifinals of the conference tournament.

The plan, which was discussed at the annual WAC Council spring meetings that concluded yesterday in Phoenix, could be voted on as early as next month by the Board of Directors and enacted in time for the tournament in March in Las Vegas...
Go here for the remainder.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Shamburger and Brown receive all-state honors

CalHiSports has selected San Jose State signees Keith Shamburger and Derek Brown as all-state basketballers for the 2009-2010 season.

G -- Keith Shamburger, Serra High (Gardena, Calif.) 6-foot-0 Sr.

Leading the Cavaliers during their Division III state championship season, Shamburger averaged 21.3 points, four rebounds and four assists per game on the offensive end. He also was named the CIFSS III-A co-player of the year with teammate Vaughn Autry and was selected to the Los Angeles Wave and South Bay Daily Breeze honor squads.


G -- Derek Brown, Chino Hills High (Chinos Hills, CA) 6-foot-1 Sr.

Leading the Huskies, Brown averaged 15.2 points and 5.6 assists per game in leading Chino Hills High to a 26-3 overall record. He was the most valuable player of the Soerra league.

Here is a 2008 Los Angeles Times article on Brown:

Ever meet one of those guys who is comfortable in his own skin? Someone who is just fine without receiving a ton of attention, a ton of publicity? Derek Brown falls into that category. The junior from Chino Hills is perfectly comfortable going about his business quietly, although things might not remain that way for much longer.

While UCLA-bound Kendall Williams from Los Osos and Mater Dei's Gary Franklin have dominated Southland headlines over the past year, Brown has been slowly, but surely making a name for himself. In fact, Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington have just now discovered the 6-foot-1 point guard's undeniable talents.

"I like being the sleeper,'' Brown said. "I think people have known about me here locally for a while. And don't get me wrong, it's been cool to get some more exposure and hear my name being talked about on the national level. But it's not all that important to me. If I'm doing my thing on the court, things will handle themselves off the court.''

Brown did just that a season ago for the Huskies, averaging 13.7 points, 5.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds as a sophomore. A productive, often eye-opening effort has followed over the past couple months during the critical spring and summer evaluation periods, and he's emerged as a legitimate West Coast prospect as a result.

"Honestly, I've always felt like I've belonged,'' Brown said. "I hope people don't think I'm cocky because I said that. I am just confident in my ability. You have to be confident to succeed in anything you do. I'm not going to change the way I play, or feel, if my name does eventually get out there. I plan on taking everything in stride.''