Friday, October 29, 2010

Meet Matt Ballard (again)

SpartanHoops published an interview with Matt, the new Spartan big, back in late June and we thought it was time to re-connect. So here's more on and from Matt:

SH - Witnessing Sunday's scrimmage, the play appeared more physical (especially on drives into the paint but also just in the paint itself) than previously. Is there a philosophy along the lines this season of 'no easy baskets'?

MB - We do not want to allow any easy baskets ever during the course of the game. Whichever team creates easier shots will usually win the game so our defense is geared towards no shots in the paint and to contest jumpshots.

SH - Do you feel you have any 'rust' because of your layoff or are you pretty much where you want to be with your performance at this point?

MB - I took some time off once I was not playing anymore but throughout last year I still played regularly in the mini gym 3-4 times a week. I worked really hard this summer to get back into college basketball shape as well as work on my offensive ability. I will never be satisfied with where I'm at but I feel I'm in a good position to help out the team this year.

SH - What will be your 'role' on the team this season?

MB - I will be a player with a lot of defensive energy and rebounding. I will also be expected to score in the post and hit open jump shots that will be created from our guards.

SH - What do see as your best basketball skills?

MB - Defense and rebounding have always been a strong point. I take a lot of pride in not letting an opposing player score on me. On the offensive end, I can face up a larger, quicker defender or I can score down on the block against a small defender.

SH - Is there anyone currently in the WAC who you played against either in high school or community college? Anyone who is an acquaintance or friend?

MB - I was teammates with Jeff Ledbetter at Irvine Valley College. I am excited to play against him in the same conference.

SH - Will your family be able to make it to any San Jose State games this season (they reside in Orange County)?

MB - My family will travel up to San Jose to watch us play in the Event Center a couple times and will possibly come on the road for a few away games. They love watching me play and I love having their support at my games.

SH - If for one day, you could assume the identity of any NBA basketballer, who would that be and why?

MB - I have always been a fan of Kevin Garnett growing up. His defensive energy and leadership drives his team. I like to face up in the post just as he does also.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Here's the initial entry in Khufu Najee's journal

Khufu Najee is a 6-foot-3 freshman at Diablo Valley College who recently gave a verbal commitment to San Jose State. Khufu has agreed to keep a journal this year and have it posted at Spartan Hoops. The following is his first entry:

"Monday night, just finished up some homework, chillen. Went home to Berkeley this weekend to spend time with the family, watched tv, played 2k, had a home cooked meal, all that good stuff.

Practice went alright today, had foot aches from breaking into these new shoes. Didn't touch a ball all weekend so I was kind of off, but it was worth the rest, my body was tired before the weekend.

Signing my letter of intent to SJSU on the 10th, can't wait for all of my friends and family to come to that, they'll be a good time, it's what everyone looks forward to, I just thank God I was blessed with the experience.

It's still just starting too. Season officially starts on the 19th, we open with Foothill, I dont know too much about but them but coach says it should be a game.

Really looking forward to the season, but within these four weeks until it starts, I'm going to stay positive in the classroom, the court and the weight room. Everyday out here it's a battle. There's alot going on every day, and it never stops, but that's life, I was brought up rolling with the punches, so I'm just living life."

Six or so minutes of Adrian Oliver

Here's a YouTube video of AO highlights from last season. It runs a bit more than six minutes.

What we witnessed in Sunday's scrimmage

Here are some thoughts from San Jose State's Sunday afternoon's intra-squad scrimmage. This is what we liked (not counting what we certainly missed or overlooked):

* Andy (you had to be there to appreciate this entry)

* no easy baskets were allowed

* physical play -- bodies were ALWAYS banged when approaching the hoop

* Wil Carter outletting a long pass to Justin Graham, leading to a JG dunk

* Speaking of JG, try four three-pointers (from the right side twice, left side and left again from about 24 feet -- wrist? what wrist?

* Carter blocking a shot inside, turning and running the floor and then nailing a layup off a pass from freshman Keith Shamburger

* The ballhandling of Brylle Kamen -- at 6-foot-7, he looked comfortable bringing the ball up and in making his way to the hoop

* Keith Shamburger and his (at least) two treys (left side, top of the key)

* Carter and his pair of three-pointers (there probably were ones we missed here, too)

* Chris Jones going all whirling dervish -- he is going to annoy the heck out of opponents getting his hands on attempted outlet passes, offensive boards, etc.

* Opponents are going to have to work especially hard to counter newcomer Wil Carter's face-the-basket distance shooting plus his slithery maneuverability inside

* Calvin Douglas is serious about his defensive play

* Brylle Kamen kept going to and getting to the hoop but needs to finish the task once there

* 6-foot-9 newcomer Matt Ballard also showed some nice mid-range shooting ability with a couple of pops facing the hoop

It was a much needed fix on Sunday. Thank you to the players, the coaches and the Rebounders for making it happen.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The official WAC pre-season polls

2010-11 Preseason Men’s Basketball Coaches Poll

Rank (1st Place Votes) Points
1. Utah State (8) 64
2. New Mexico State (1) 55
3. Nevada 47
4. Boise State 36
4. Fresno State 36
6. San Jose State 32
7. Louisiana Tech 24
8. Idaho 19
9. Hawai‘i 11

Preseason Coaches All-WAC Teams

First Team

* Troy Gillenwater, Jr., F, New Mexico State
* Wendell McKines, Sr., F, New Mexico State
* Adrian Oliver, Sr., G, San Jose State
* Greg Smith, So., C, Fresno State
* Tai Wesley, Sr., F, Utah State

Second Team

* Olu Ashaolu, Jr., F, Louisiana Tech
* Nate Bendall, Sr., F, Utah State
* Daequon Montreal, Sr., F, Boise State
* Tyler Newbold, Sr., G, Utah State
* Pooh Williams, Sr., G/F, Utah State

Player of the Year: Tai Wesley, Utah State

2010-11 Preseason Men’s Media Poll

Rank (1st Place Votes) Points
1. Utah State (19) 259
2. New Mexico State (8) 237
3. Nevada (2) 190
4. San Jose State (1) 135
5. Fresno State 133
6. Boise State 129
7. Louisiana Tech 116
8. Idaho 78
9. Hawai‘i 73

Preseason Media All-WAC Team

First Team

* Troy Gillenwater, Jr., F, New Mexico State
* Wendell McKines, Sr., F, New Mexico State
* Adrian Oliver, Sr., G, San Jose State
* Greg Smith, So., C, Fresno State
* Tai Wesley, Sr., F, Utah State

Player of the Year: Adrian Oliver, San Jose State

Newcomer of the Year: Brockeith Pane, Jr., G, Utah State

SJSU Men's Basketball Intra-Squad Scrimmage and more

Okay, here comes your 2010-2011 San Jose State University Spartans. A meet-and-greet event is on tap for getting to know this season's squad, watching them play and then chowing down afterwards.

Here are the details:

Date: Sunday October 24, 2010

Time: 2:00 PM Tip-off and Rebounder BBQ following scrimmage

Location: Event Center

Cost: Free to paid-up Spartan Rebounder members, $15 to non-members (the opportunity to join up or renew your membership will be available at the door)

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Spartan Daily reports on 8:30 Madness

SJSU hosts first ‘Midnight Madness’ to start off 2010-11 basketball season
Jen Nowell
Spartan Daily
October 17, 2010

The SJSU athletic department hosted Midnight Madness at 8:30 on Friday night in Yoshihiro Uchida Hall, announcing the men’s and women’s basketball teams for the 2010-2011 season...
Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

SJSU hoops receives another verbal

Spartan basketball has landed a second verbal in recruiting with the word that 6-foot-3 Khufu Najee, ex of Berkeley High and now a freshman at Diablo Valley College, has agreed to join the San Jose State University basketball program after this season.

Steve Coccimiglio, the veteran coach at Diablo Valley, offered his analysis of Khufu: "Khufu has a great mid-range game and he has really live legs but he needs to become a better three-point shooter. He’s an intelligent player with a mature knowledge of the game. Khufu wasn’t strong enough coming out of high school but now he finishes at the rim on his drives. He’ll be a 2 or 3 at the next level. This is a really good sign for San Jose State."

Phil Hander, a local/regional basketball skills trainer offered this on his pupil: "He’s super skilled lefty with a good mid-range game and a knack for scoring. Khufu is very athletic, a good student and great off the floor. I see him as under the radar, someone who fell through the cracks."

Here are Khufu's numbers from his play in three games at the Las Positas College Shootout held in late July:

* 6/11 fg, 7 reb, 1 ast, 1 pf, 13 pts

* 4/4 fg, 0/1 ft, 4 reb, 2 blk, 3 stl, 2 pf, 10 pts

* 4/9 fg, 1 reb, 1 ast, 1 pf, 8 pts

The minutes of play weren't tracked and Khufu was positioned mostly as a wing during his court time.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Marquin Chandler back in Korea

Former Spartan Marquin Chandler played for some time in the Philippines and now has been active in South Korea the past few seasons.

Here's are Chandler-related excerpts from a Korea Times article on this season's Korean Basketball League:
"The [SK] Knights has solidified its lineup, bringing in ... forward Marquin Chandler from Donbgu ... Chandler also showed his strength on the court, with 16.2 points from 54 games in the regular season, and averaged 15 per game in the Promy’s seven playoff games last season. Promy."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Spartan Midnight Madness

Yes, basketball season is rapidly approaching and San Jose State basketball is celebrating this in a big way.

Here's Adrian Oliver with the announcement:

Spartan fans, I'm coming to you with a special 2010-11 Basketball Midnight Madness announcement. This event will be held Friday, October 15, in the YUH gym on campus at the corner of 4th and San Carlos streets.

Doors open at 8:00 p.m. and the real fun starts at 8:30 p.m.

There will be a 3-point shootout, autograph signings, shooting games where you, the fans, can try and beat the Spartans, and everyone's favorite, a dunk contest.

Prizes will be awarded, too. There's a brand new bicycle, computer monitor, and an Ipod. Everyone in attendance will be entered in a drawing from our sponsor, R & L Jewelry Loan, for a prize give away.

Midnight Madness, San Jose State style, is sponsored by Rockstar energy drinks. Our very own radio broadcaster, Mike Chisholm, will be the announcer for the evening.

Come out and support Spartan basketball and meet this year's new look team.

Also I want to send out a special thank you to those who have congratulated me on being picked as the WAC Pre-Season Player of the Year. Now, let's get it done Spartans

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Arrivederci Roma

So what are you doing next mid-to-late August?

Yes, it seems a long time from now but not really in some ways.

During that period of time, the San Jose State basketball team will be in Italy, Rome in particular, for a series of games against Italian opponents.

Details are still being worked out but it looks like the date of departure will be August 13 (arriving on August 14) with a return date of August 22.

We will pass along further information as soon as it is available but start making plans. Pick up a Berlitz book or some Rosetta Stone software and also get prepared for the absolute best gelato on earth.

Monday, October 11, 2010

More on Stephon Smith

Sometimes the right person appears in your life at the right time. Call it a blessing, serendipity, good fortune, kismet or what you will, new San Jose State University (SJSU) basketball recruit Stephon Smith has already experienced such a connection.

If you recall from an earlier article, Smith said this: "Coach {Pat] Washington made me into who I am...I had a hard time opening up after going through Katrina and Coach Washington helped me." Washington teaches at Woodrow Wilson High in Dallas and also coaches the boys basketball team.

Smith arrived at Wilson High as a sophomore. This after Hurricane Katrina forced him from New Orleans and after spending a year staying with friends in Mississippi.

Now one of the fascinating aspects of young people -- despite the usual multitude (music - no pun intended, clothing, hair and so on) -- of so-called bad raps, is that sometimes there is also a raw, unfiltered directness in their speaking and interaction.

That's Smith on and about his former coach.

But it's a mutual admiration society that runs both ways.

Washington, who earlier coached 6-foot-10 Anthony Randolph (the former LSU star who played for the Golden State Warriors and is now with the New York Knicks) plus 6-foot-11 Perry Jones (a top player in the country last season who is now a freshman at Baylor), has long been in the praise chorus surrounding Smith.

"Steph is a super kid, strong-willed and strong-minded. I love him," said Washington.

He added, "Steph has always known what he wanted. With his ability and body type, in my heart of hearts, I believe he will be really, really good and be successful on and off the floor. He works his butt off."

But as an outsider to the school and a newbie to the team, Smith didn't instantaneously blend well with his teammates.

"I'm a firm believer teammates have got to be friends -- at least on the court -- and working in the same direction," Washington explained.

It took a while but the relationship between Smith and his mates became the close and Wilson finished the last two seasons with 24-7 and 17-8 overall records respectively.

After the 2009-2010 season, it was decision time for Smith.

"A lot of JCs wanted Steph but I thought it would be good for him mentally, socially and in [basketball] skill development to attend a prep school first, "explained Washington.

According to Washington, "A friend of mine knew Coach [Ian] Turnbull and his program in New Jersey."

So eventually it was off to the Garden State for Smith in a current post-grad year at the CJEOTO Academy.

As for the connection of Smith and SJSU, Washington offered, "I couldn't be more happy I've known [SJSU Assistant] Coach [Talvin] Hester since our AAU days."

Earlier, Smith, his mother and Washington sat down and created a life action plan for the young man.

It didn't contain 'college: San Jose State University' in it at the time but Spartan fans are glad it now does.