Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Spartans fall to UT San Antonio

There was Black Friday, then Cyber Monday. Tonight was Spartan Tuesday but host Texas San Antonio discounted nothing and took it to San Jose State 72-63.

Facing a Roadrunner team with a 17-game home court non-conference winning streak, SJSU's basketballers fought back after 13 first half turnovers left them with a deficit, went ahead 34-32 but ultimately fell short.

Justin Graham led across the stat sheet with 20 points, 11 rebounds plus five assists and three steals. Adrian Oliver had 17 points and freshman Keith Shamburger contributed 14. Will Carter grabbed nine boards but went scoreless in 24 minutes as did Joe Henson in 12 minutes of action.

SJSU shot 38% overall and 57% at the foul line but out-boarded San Antonio 46-38.

It was a contest loaded with a cake, pie and doughnut diet in the initial 20 minutes as the teams combined for 23 first half turnovers -- 13 attached to the Spartans -- who couldn't establish any rhythm or continuity.

Opening the second half, a Shamburger trey and a pair of Oliver deuces brought the Spartans close. Matt Ballard tied it 32-all and Shamburger's two-pointer gave San Jose State a 34-32 lead.

It was tied again at 45.

But then Santa Antonio edged ahead and the Spartans never could catch up.

The score was 30-21 in favor of the Roadrunners at the half. Opening the game, SJSU fell behind 7-0 before Adrian Oliver scored on a jumper.

A Shamburger trey made it 21-15 at the 7:33 mark but the Spartans were down by 12, 27-15, with 4 minutes remaining. An Oliver deuce and a Justin Graham steal resulting in a layup cut the difference to 27-19.

*** It wasn't a good night on the road for Nevada either as the Wolf Pack fell 82-63 to South Dakota State.

Plus, Fresno State is trailing host Utah 42-24 with 13 minutes remaining in the second half.

In Las Cruces, New Mexico State is behind UTEP 49-40 with 14:33 remaining.

Save the dates -- Rebounder/SJSU player dinners

Hey, save these dates:

It's January 11th and February 8th at 6:00 p.m. for our annual Rebounders - SJSU player dinners. As like last year, we will have one dinner for the frosh-sophs and the second for the junior-seniors.

Dinners will be at the Bold Knight on First Street in the wine cellar downstairs, and like last year, we will ask members to sponsor a player or coach for these events. Only sponsors will be able to win the great raffle prizes we will be offering. If you are interested in being a sponsor, please contact Gayle Kludt at sjsubabe@cwnet.com to do so. Even if you are unable to attend, you can still be a sponsor and if you win a prize, we will deliver it to you either at the next game or by mail.

So mark those calendars and save those dates because the dinners will be here quicker than you think!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's San Antone Tuesday night

Getting a preview of things to come, San Jose State is off to San Antonio for a Tuesday night contest with future WAC member, the UT San Antonio Roadrunners. Yes, this will be the second 'Beep Beep' team the Spartans will encounter this season (the other being Cal State Bakersfield).

Brooks Thompson is the UTSA head coach and he possesses an intriguing background. Thompson played as a backcourter at Texas A&M and then Oklahoma State before becoming a first-round selection of the Orlando Magic in 1994. He was also a member of the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks. Later on, he turned to college coaching and assisted at Arizona State.

In his four years in the Alamo City, the Roadrunners have exhibited a remarkable turnaround, including back-to-back 19-win campaigns in 2008-10 years that marked the program’s best two-year span since 1990-92.

This season, the RRers own victories over Cameron and Troy (which sounds like a skating duo but are actually two separate colleges) and a road loss at Evansville.

6-foot-8 freshman Jeromie Hill, at 17 ppg and 65% shooting, leads the SA offense. He is also tops in rebounding at 7.3 a contest. Hill is a frontcourter who could do some major damage against the Spartans as he is shooting 65% from the floor, 66% on nine three-point attempts (4-5 in the match up with Evansville) but just 55% on his free throws. Figure that one out.

6-foot senior Devin Gibson is next at 15.3 on 54% overall shooting. He also is second in rebounding at 5.3 a game and tops on the team in assists. Gibson has gone to the foul line 26 times, the most of any Roadrunner, indicating he is a dribble-drive penetrator. He also has pilfered 12 steals in four game so the Spartan backcourters will need to be careful offensively and defensively.

Next in scoring is by 6-foot-5 sophomore Melvin Johnson at 13.3. 27 of his 44 shots this season have been from long distance and he also is averaging just 1.8 boards a game -- no offensive rebounds -- telling us he resides away from the basket offensively. Johnson, who comes off the bench, was named the freshman of the year in the Southland Conference last season.

6-foot-6 Stephen Franklin checks in at 7.0/5.3 points/rebounds a contest. Center Alex Vouyoukas in't s putting up much in the way of scoring or rebounding to date.

Here is a statistical comparison of the two squads:

76.8 Scoring 74.6
.452 Field Goal Pct. .401
.318 3-Pt Field Goal Pct. .356
.708 Free Throw Pct. .805
40.0 Rebounds 37.8
12.3 Assists 11.4
18.0 Turnovers 11.2
9.0 Steals 4.8

The starters for Thompson are:

* Devin Gibson 6-foot-0

* Sei Paye 6-foot-3

* Stephen Franklin 6-foot-6

* Jeromie Hill 6-foot-8 230

* Alex Vouyoukas 6-foot-8 235

The Roadrunner roster (by position, alphabetized)

This team is a veritable United Nations with players from Australia, Greece and Serbia.

* Kalif Bakare G 5-11 190 So.
* Devin Gibson G 6-0 190 Sr.
* Melvin Johnson G 6-5 165 So.
* Djuro Majstorovic G 6-4 205 Fr.
* Sei Paye G 6-3 170 Jr.
* Ryan Whitehead G 6-0 190 Fr.

* Jordan Sims G/F 6-4 185 Fr.

* Stephen Franklin F 6-6 205 Jr.
* Jeromie Hill F 6-8 230 Fr.
* Igor Nujic F 6-8 215 Fr.
* Mike White F 6-8 220 Jr.
* Larry Wilkins F 6-4 250 Jr
* Tyler Wood F 6-6 230 Fr.

* Alex Vouyoukas F/C 6-9 235 Jr.
* T.J. Williams F/C 6-7 250 Fr.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

San Jose State wins 80-77

Riverside's Phil Martin never knew he had a twin, fraternal or otherwise. That is until this afternoon. Martin's 27 points against San Jose State close to doubled his points per game average of this season but he reached that total with about 10 minutes to play. Spartan wing Calvin Douglas then attached himself to Martin's hip and the remainder of SJSU's 80-77 victory over the Highlanders was Martin-uneventful, the way Coach George Nessman wished.

Adrian Oliver totaled 35 points for San Jose State (11-20 shooting, 11-11 from the foul line). He enjoyed an early on love fest with the twine, burying six shots in a row en route to 21 first half points. Justin Graham added 16, highlighted by going three for three from three, plus seven assists. The Spartans were a scintillating 22-24 at the charity stripe.

It was SJSU holding a 72-71 lead with 3:41 showing and a Graham top-of-the-key trey made it 75-71. Oliver then added a pair of free throws to up the margin to six with1:31 displayed on the clock.

UCR's Kevin Bradford scored a basket and was fouled but missed the free throw and, back down the court, Spartan big Matt Ballard buried two at the charity stripe to boost the lead back to six.

A Kareem Nitoto layup followed by a timeout had Riverside down by four. Subsequently, Nitoto stole the ball from Oliver and notched another layup to bring the Highlanders within two.

Graham was then fouled with 9.7 second showing. He missed the first free throw but buried the second, giving the Spartans a three-point margin.

A last-second long-distance attempt by UCR was off and SJSU had the win.

Riverside led one, at 44-43, around the 16-minute mark but a Joe Henson and1 trio of points pushed San Jose State back into the lead. The teams were tied at 46 and also at 53 apiece.

SJSU led 36-32 after the initial 20 minutes, ramping up a 19-7 early margin on an Oliver and1 three-point play and owned a 24-15 lead at the 8:29 mark.

Oakland native Kareem Nitoto totaled 13 points and also passed for eight assists for UCR.

San Jose State shot 44% for the game while Riverside finished at 47%.

Just asking: wouldn't it be a blast from the past if Highlander Coach Jim Woodridge landed a player with the surname Rowan? Having a Rowan and also Martin could lead to a number of laughers for the Highlanders.

Friday, November 26, 2010

UC Riverside here - Sunday - 2 p.m.

The great Scottish poet Robbie Burns' heart was always in the Highlands although we're quite sure it wasn't Riverside, CA that he had in mind. Said city was named for a spot on the Santa Ana River and does have an elevation of 860 feet but, yes, there are some surrounding mountains.

Nevertheless, it is the Highlanders from southern California coming to Walt McPherson Court on Sunday for a 2 p.m. game. There was some confusion about start times but it is 2 p.m.

Jim Wooldridge is the UCR head coach. He possesses some NBA flavor, having assisted with the Chicago Bulls (along with former Spartan coach Phil Johnson) when Tim Floyd was there and is most likely recognized as the former top guy at Kansas State. Former Spartan assistant coach Dennis Cutts is at Riverside aiding Wooldridge.

The Highlanders own a 1-3 overall record, nabbing a win against host Southern Methodist in Dallas while losing 90-75 to Lamar and 69-58 to Portland State as part of a tournament at SMU and falling to UNLV in Vegas 85-41.

Shooting guard Phil Martin is the sole player in double figure scoring at 13.4 ppg. He's a 6-foot-4 junior who is shooting 58% overall but just 29% on his three-point attempts. Martin is also third on the team in rebounding at 4.6 boards a contest.

6-foot-7 forward BJ Shearry is adding 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds a game.

6-foot-7 Tyquan Brown leads the Highlanders on the boards with 7.4 caroms a contest.

The starters for Riverside:

* Javon Borum 5-foot-11 (he possesses good quickness and strength but is shooting 26%, 20% on threes)

* Phil Martin 6-foot-4 200

* Kareem Nitoto 6-foot-1 185 (he's a native of Oakland, a transfer from Hawaii) and probably the best backcourt defender -- look for friends and family to be in attendance)

* Tyquan Brown 6-foot-7 215 or Elliott Berry 6-foot-7 210 or BJ Shearry 6-foot-7 220 upfront

The Highlanders are shooting just 41% from the floor but only allowing opponents to make 43% of their attempts. Plus, UCR own a +5 rebounding edge at 39-34 and has nabbed 24 more offensive boards than its collective opponents.

As for scoring, Riverside is at 66 ppg while giving up 72. Remarkably, Woodridge's squad has attempted only 55 three-point shots to date to 123 for opposing teams -- a remarkable differential.

The UC Riverside broadcast starts at 1:30 p.m. (PST) and will be available on KSJS and KLIV (1590 AM, San Jose).

The Highlander roster (by position, alphabetized)

Javon Borum G 5-11 190 Sr.
Daymond Cowlah G 6-0 180 Fr.
Harrison Gaines G 6-0 170 Jr.
Phil Martin G 6-4 200 Jr.
Kareem Nitoto G 6-1 185 Jr.
Andy Saharan G 6-5 180 So.
Delonte Taylor G 6-5 205 Jr.

Elliott Berry F 6-7 210 Jr.
Kevin Bradshaw F 6-8 225 Jr.
Tyquan Brown F 6-7 215 Jr.
BJ Shearry F 6-7 220 Jr.
David Chavarria F 6-7 220 Jr.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bakersfield tops the Spartans 82-77

a pre-game view of CSUB's campus arena

Some games, it's just seems impossible individually and/or collectively to establish a rhythm or continuity. That's when a grinding-it-out slog mentality becomes a necessity. Tonight, Cal State Bakersfield performed better at it and came away with an 82-77 win.

Adrian Oliver led the way for San Jose with 26 points and Justin Graham contributed 16. Sophomore Stephon Carter paced the hosts with a personal best 32 points. Donavan Bragg added 20.

With 2:45 remaining, it was 69 all. Adrian Oliver put in a shot down low with two minutes showing to make it 71-69.

On a late foul call after Calvin Douglas knocked the ball away, Bakersfield's Stephon Carter made a pair of free throws to tie up the game.

After Oliver missed a trey attempt, Keith Shamburger nagged the carom. Oliver subsequently was fouled and he made 1-2 at the foul line putting SJSU up by one.

Roadrunner guard Alex Johnson then nailed a trey at the 1:04 mark, elevating Bakersfield to a 74-72 margin, a lead they never relinquished.

Next time down, Oliver missed off the front rim and it became a free throw line march after that until the horn sounded giving Bakersfield the 82-77 victory.

BK came in shooting 41% and averaging 70 points a game. The Roadrunners shot 47% on the night to San Jose State's 51%.

At the half, it was 44-39 in favor of the hosts, the same point differential as at the end. San Jose State shot 52% but the Roadrunners were just behind at 50%. Eight Spartan turnovers and seven BK offensive rebounds provided Bakersfield greater offensive opportunities.

At that point, Stephon Carter was the gigantic man on the Roadrunner campus with a remarkable 19 points and seven rebounds.

Remember the 1971 crime film "Get Carter," starring Michael Caine? SJSU should have watched it on the way down to Bakersfield because the sophomore was mucho en fuego in the initial 20 minutes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On to Bakersfield Wednesday night

Cal St. Bakersfield athletics is a WAC wannabee (we appreciate their good taste) and the next opponent for San Jose State University hoops. The Spartans travel south and east to take on the Roadrunners on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The game will be played at the on-campus Icardo Center, not the usual Rabobank Arena.

BK is 2-2 having won at Sacramento and at Pepperdine while falling to Santa Clara on the road and Southern Utah at home. Guards Donavan Bragg and Alex Johnson (twice) plus wing Stephon Carter have been the Roadrunner high scorers in each contest.

The very athletic Carter leads the team in scoring at 16.5 points per game while Johnson is second at 15.3. Donavan Bragg checks in at 11.8 points a contest. Carter is shootng 47% this season, Johnson 37% and Bragg 33%. Keep in mind that of Johnson's 45 shot attempts, 36 have come from long distance -- in fact, he's shooting better beyond the three-point line (39%) than overall.

What is also interesting is that while Bakersfield is shooting slightly better than it's collective opponents -- 41% to 40% -- the Roadrunners have 13 less assists than opposing teams. This generally indicates more one-on-one play and dribble-driving to shoot rather than kick out.

The other significant statistic is the Roadrunners are garnering six less rebounds a game than opponents. 6-foot-6 junior college newcomer Rashad Savage is the top BK boardman at 11.5 a game with 5-10 Alex Johnson next. Yes, you read that correctly.

Also, let's see who takes on the 5-10 Johnson as a defender. Size indicates it will be freshman Keith Shamburger, with Adrian Oliver and Justin Graham matching up with Carter and Bragg.

Looking in the notes of earlier games, there is no indication of BK pressing opponents but the athleticism is there to do so. However, the big three of Carter, Johnson and Bragg are playing at least 30 minutes a game and requiring extra effort may take away proficiency in other areas.

KSJS (90.5 FM, San Jose) originates San Jose State University basketball broadcasts and Mike Chisholm will call the play-by-play. Air time for the Cal State Bakersfield game is 6:30 p.m.

The Bakersfield Starting Five

* 5-foot-10 Alex Johnson - point
* 6-foot-3 Donavan Bragg - two guard
* 6-foot-3 Stephon Carter - wing
* 6-foot-6 Rashad Savage - frontcourt

Either 6-foot-10 Cory Brown or 6-foot-8 Donald Johnson will also start upfront.

It's also worth noting that CSUB is now a fully-fledged D-1 school and eligible for post-season play.

The Roadrunner roster (by position, alphabetized)

Donavan Bragg G 6-3 196 Sr.
Lance Bailey G 6-2 195 Fr.
Reynaul Baker G 6-2 175 Fr.
Stephon Carter G 6-3 180 So.
Robert Hayes G 5-10 186 Jr.
Cody Kale G 6-3 190 Fr.
Alex Johnson G 5-10 170 Jr.
Ivan Matip G 6-3 205 Fr.

James Albright F 6-6 212 So.
Donald Johnson F 6-8 215 Jr.
Kregg Jones F 6-8 235 Fr.
De'Aundray Robinson F 6-5 210 Fr.
Rashad Savage F 6-6 220 Jr.

Cory Brown C 6-10 223 Sr.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Play Their Hearts Out" -- a great holiday gift book

If there was such an authority, George Dohrmann's book "Play Their Hearts Out" should be required reading for all parents and college basketball prospects. It's the story of Demetrious Young, now redshirting at New Mexico, chronicling his life from middle school onward. He was once the highest-rated-in-his-age-group prospect in the country (yes, there are some adults who stoop to such a level of rankings) and his fall, along with many others, including a number of adults, from grace is starkly depicted. The book contains a lot of good, bad and ugly but ultimately is extremely informative and a great read.

Here is an excerpt from Dohrmann's book.

Here is another lengthy excerpt.

Here is one Q-and-A with Dohrmann.

Here is a second one.

Here is a strong endorsement of the book with the last line reading "It'll make you sick."

Here is another related article.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

SJSU wins 75-72 over Oregon

To quack or be quacked? And we're not talking Aflac here.

That was the question facing San Jose State basketball on Saturday afternoon on McArthur Court in Eugene.

The answer? A 75-72 last second win over Oregon, the final scoring being a three-point-play acrobatic dribble-drive six-footer and free throw by Justin Graham on a possession that began at the 27.9 second mark and concluded with the ball sliding through the net and 2.8 seconds showing.

Adrian Oliver paced the Spartans with 19 points and freshman Keith Shamburger also totaled a big time 19.

San Jose State is now 3-0.

In the second half, SJSU took the lead back 49-48 on two Oliver free throws. His fadeaway jumper made it 51-48. A Keith Shamburger and1 three-point play opened the lead to 54-48. An AO trey and jumper sandwiched around a Chris Jones layup put the Spartans ahead 61-55 with 7:55 remaining.

But Oregon persevered and it was 63 apiece with 5:30 to go.

At the half, it was 39-34 in favor of the Ducks. In a Ripley's Believe It Or Not submission, Oliver was in the books with but two points at that point. But he also was on the court for just 11 minutes. In a clear cut case of momentum shifting, SJSU performed well for the initial 15 minutes -- leading 20-13 at the 11:03 mark -- but Oregon owned the last five.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A trio of Spartan basketball-related articles

Here's a Spartan Daily feature on Justin Graham and Adrian Oliver.

Here's Dan Shell at CSNBayArea on AO.

Here's a report from SJSU athletics on two signees for next year's team.

San Jose State at Oregon on Saturday afternoon

Ernie Kent is gone after 13 up-and-down seasons and Phil Knight...er....Mike Bellotti, the then Oregon AD, decided on Dana Altman as a replacement. The latter came west after a successful 16-year run at Creighton.

Altman wasn't the first choice (nor were many of us by our spouses so hey) but should do a fine job once he has a couple of full recruiting seasons. He and the Nike-Oregon imprint already landed Oakland High guard Jabari Brown who will be the top scorer for the Ducks -- but that's next season.

So what has Altman's 2010-2011 squad encountered so far?

* a 97-92 overtime win over North Dakota State

* followed by a 68-56 victory over Denver

* and most recently a 72-70 success over UC Santa Barbara

What is intriguing (who knows if it means anything as yet) is Oregon has trailed at halftime in each of those three victories this season. Plus, each win came on venerable McArthur Court.

Let's sidetrack for a moment here because Oregon moves to a new basketball facility -- Matthew Knight Arena -- on January 13, 2011. At the top of this article is a view of what the new court looks like.

As for the current assembly of basketball talent, as expected, Oregon is down, predicted to be the caboose in the PAC-10.

Fifth-year senior forward Joevan Catron is the leading scorer to date and his play is twined in the second-half comebacks by the Ducks. He has tallied 40 of his 62 points in the second half and is averaging 13.3 points after halftime versus 6.7 points per game in first half. He is an equal opportunity rebounder, having grabbed nine offensively and the same number at the defensive end. Catron has also gone to the foul line a bountiful 33 times in three games. He will be a load inside.

As a team, UO is playing similarly, shooting an abysmal 16.7 percent on three-point attempts in first half play (4-of-24), while hitting 38% in the second half (10-of-26).

Conversely, Oregon's foes are shooting 64.0 percent on three-pointers in the first half (16-of-25), yet 28.6% in the second stanza (6-of-21).

E.J. Singler, brother of Duke's Kyle, is averaging 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds a contest.

6-foot Malcom Armstead and 6-foot-4 Teondre Williams are also averaging in double figures at 10.3 and 10.0 a game respectively. Armstead is the point but his assist-to-turnover ration stands at 13/11. Williams is at 57% shooting from long range, 44% overall so it's likely he'll be found some distance away from the basket.

5-foot-11 Jay-R Stowbridge comes in at 9 points per game and 5-foot-8 freshman Jonathan Lloyd isn't shooting all that well but possesses 8/1 assist-to-turnover numbers.

The Ducks are out-boarding opponents 37-33 and it truly is a team effort in attacking the backboard, losing the turnover margin 36/44 but winning at shotblocks and steals with six a game.

The Spartan opponents on Saturday aren't big but they play tough. So who will defend best for the longest? The Ducks are shooting .435% overall while holding foes to 410% but underwater in distance shooting at 30% to 46%.

Also, who commits the fewest errors and turnovers?

* Oregon, Saturday, November 20, 2010, McArthur Court, Eugene, Ore., 2:00 p.m. (PST)

* Radio Coverage: KSJS (90.5 FM, San Jose) originates San Jose State University basketball broadcasts. Shawn Murphy calls the play-by-play of the Oregon contest. Air time is 1:30 p.m.

The Duck roster (by position and alphabetized)

Malcolm Armstead G 6-0 195 Jr (STARTER)
John Elorriaga G 6-2 205 Jr (walk-on)
Nicholas Fearn G 6-1 188 Jr. (walk-on)
Jonathan Lloyd G 5-8 160 Fr
Matt Losli G 6-4 185 So.
Nicholas Lucenti G 6-3 212 Fr
Garrett Sim G 6-1 181 Jr (STARTER)
Jay-R Strowbridge G 5-11 180 Sr
Teondre Willaims G 6-4 218 Jr (STARTER)

Joeven Catron F 6-6 245 Sr. (STARTER)
Jeremy Jacob F 6-8 226 Jr
Tyrone Nared F 6-8 210 Jr
E.J. Singler F 6-6 210 So (STARTER)

Martin Seiferth C 6-10 223 Fr

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spartans down the Dons 74-64

San Jose State kept pocketing the trey ball in the first 20 minutes, leading USF 40-23. The largest Spartan point differential reached 21 points. But the Dons' second-half zone defense bothered SJSU and Rex Walters' squad crept to within six at one point and eight on multiple occasions but couldn't get any closer, falling 74-64 tonight at Walt McPherson Court.

Adrian Oliver led the way with 25 points and Justin Graham was next on the scoring chart with 18, including a trio of three-pointers. Wil Carter contributed a double-double of 12 points and 11 boards and another newcomer, Calvin Douglas, totaled 11 points, aided by a trifecta of treys.

Threes advanced the lead in the first half and also kept USF at bay in the second 20 minutes. For the game, San Jose State went 11-26 from long distance

SJSU shot 37% overall for the game -- USF finished at 40%. The Spartans made 19-22 free throw attempts, USF 9-18.

This was the second straight contest with single digit turnovers for SJSU -- just seven after garnering nine against Eastern Washington.

Matt Ballard and Wil Carter fouled out but the senior leadership maintained the equilibrium.

A leg cramp momentarily exited Oliver from second half action but his quick return calmed the hearts, minds and stomachs of Spartan fans and shut down the burgeoning sales of Maalox.

Also, San Jose State wore its new gray uniforms, adding a third selection to the gold and the blue outfittings.

Coach George Nessman again started Matt Ballard, Wil Carter, Keith Shamburger, Adrian Oliver and Justin Graham.

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's USF on Wednesday night

Fresh off a recent way-out-of-left-field (if we can mix sports metaphors) call by a sportswriter in the Sacramento Bee for former Don and longtime Chicago Bull center Bill Cartwright to take over the program, Coach Rex Walters and his USF squad come to Walt McPherson Court 7 p.m. on Wednesday evening.

Walters was hired in April 2008 and charged with rebuilding the once storied basketball program. This after an internecine 'war' between the former head coach (who was fired and is suing) and the AD (who recently resigned). After playing at Piedmont Hills High in San Jose, he originally signed with Northwestern and then was a star backcourter at Kansas after transferring there and also spent some time in the NBA.

It's been a struggle for Walters but that was expected early on in his tenure. No longer can/will USF land (a-f-f-o-r-d) the Cartwrights, the James Hardys, the Winford Boynes and the (late) Quintin Daileys because the payments for such services got USF into NCAA trouble and actually led to a shutdown of the program from 1981 to 1985.

Games this season

USF took down Seattle (a December 18 SJSU road foe) 97-76 on November 12, primarily by forcing the Redhawks into a half court game. On November 7, it was a 95-62 exhibition contest win against Menlo College

Currently, the point production is well distributed among the team, with Angelo Caloiaro and Michael Williams averaging 18 per game and Marko Petrovic and Moustapha Diarra at 14 apiece. Petrovic especially (all five of his made shots have been from long distance), and Williams have been the most skilled outside shooters early on.

Who started against Seattle? It was 6-foot-2 freshman backcourter Cody Doolin, 5-foot-10 redshirt frosh point Dominique O'Connor plus 6-foot-4 junior Rashad Green as the outside players and 6-foot-8 junior Caloiaro and 6-foot-10 senior Diarra upfront. Caloiaro also has shooting ability from distance.

As for predictions, the West Coast Conference Coaches poll had USF finishing in sixth place come March.

The Players

Here's the Don roster -- a mini-United Nations (by position and alphabetized)

Walters has a very young squad -- boasting of just seven years of returning D-1 experience.

Straight out of Bad Krotzingen? And someone else from Babylon? These must be some nefarious dudes.

Osekalome Akhile G 5-11 178 freshman Oakland, CA/The Branson School
Cody Doolin G 6-2 170 freshman Austin, TX/Westlake HS
Chad Eppley G 6-1 165 junior Boone, NC/Watauga HS
Rashad Green G 6-4 195 junior Babylon, NY/Manhattan
Avery Johnson G 6-3 180 freshman Huntington Beach, CA/Ocean View HS
Dominique O'Connor G 5-10 165 freshman Los Angeles, CA/Westchester HS
Marko Petrovic G 6-3 200 freshman Zagreb, Croatia/Findlay Prep
Jay Wey G 6-2 185 junior Cupertino, CA/Archbishop Mitty HS
Michael Williams G 6-0 170 sophomore Van Nuys, CA/Taft HS

Perris Blackwell F 6-9 240 sophomore Etiwanda, CA/Etiwanda HS
Angelo Caloiaro F 6-8 225 junior Saratoga, CA/Archbishop Mitty HS
Cole Dickerson F 6-7 230 freshman Federal Way, WA/Federal Way HS
Khalil Murphy F 6-7 235 freshman Willingboro, NJ/Fishburne Military School
Antoine Roy-Condron F 6-8 210 freshman Long Beach, CA/St. Anthony HS
Charles Standifer F 6-5 185 freshman Sacramento, CA/Capital Christian HS

Moustapha Diarra C 6-10 235 senior Marseille, France/Sheridan JC (WY)
Justin Raffington C 6-9 225 freshman Bad Krotzingen, Germany/Urspring Academy

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Stephon Smith's initial journal entry

6-foot-8 235 pound Stephon Smith will be a San Jose State Spartan next season. Currently, he is playing at the CJEOTO Academy in New Jersey after finishing high school in Dallas. Here is Stephon's initial journal entry:

It’s been a while since I gave some feedback on everything that has been going on with me so far since I verbally committed. I'll start by saying that on my visit the coaches, players, and the people that I met around campus definitely made me feel at home.

One thing I won’t forget is the food; THEY FED ME SO MUCH, but I don’t think I turned down one meal, ha-ha.

Midnight Madness was really fun, the energy in the building was incredible, and to say it was the first Madness they had it really went well, I can only see it getting better.

The coolest thing about the campus is that its in the city, I love the whole urban scene along with the night life and the different races of people around; I instantly felt attached to the city and San Jose State.

I'm beyond excited for next year.

As of recently, I’ve just been concentrating on playing here in Jersey-- (the CJEOTO Academy). It's been pretty tough I have to say, I’m learning a lot about myself and where I need to be physically and mentally to compete on the WAC level; I do plan to dominate, ha.

But in the mean time, I have to get through and push through issues here.

Oh!!! Before I forget. how could I? I just recently received my NIL (National Letter Of Intent). I didn’t get to sign the way I initially wanted, which is at my old high school, but I’m beyond excited about the whole ordeal. I feel so good that I belong to such a good program that takes such good care of their players. I realized while I was on campus that the players and coaching staff were like a close family, on and off the court. I’m real happy to be a part of the family.

I’m ready to come in and work hard, so this summer is going to be my “No Days Off” summer -- I can’t wait…… looking forward to the team yoga, ha-ha-ha.

Stephon Smith

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

SJSU wins 67-60

There wasn't necessarily a flow to the game, more a series of stops and starts, and definitely the breaking in of new whistles by the zebras but San Jose State triumphed on the road 67-60 against Eastern Washington.

The turning point? It was more a stretch of minutes in the second half. Freshman Keith Shamburger nabbed a steal and scored on a layup to put the Spartans ahead 52-50. This after the teams were La Brea Tar Pitted at 50-50 for quite some time.

Then, Adrian Oliver performed a live exemplification of Dan Patrick's famous phrase "you can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him" -- although EW definitely struggled even with the latter.

He made one of two free throws, then a deuce from the corner. Another AO corner shot -- a trey -- made it 58- 50. Eastern Washington managed a tip-in but Oliver put in two more at the charity stripe followed by a top of the key two. He closed the barrage out with a bank shot and the Eagles were plucked.

Coinciding with the scoring burst were nine straight defensive stops by SJSU, led by exemplary defensive effort by Chris Jones.

Oliver led the Spartans in scoring with 34 points, with newcomers Wil Carter and Keith Shamburger adding nine apiece. Carter topped the team in rebounding with 11.

Neither team shot well overall, with San Jose State finishing at 33% and the Eagles at a slightly better 37%. Making just 55% of free throw opportunities dramatically hindered Eastern Washington.

At the half, it was Eastern Washington up 36-33. The score was tied eight times and there were also eight lead changes in the first 20 minutes and Oliver had 14 points at the first horn. It was also quite the foul fest in the initial half with each of the Spartan bigs in foul trouble.

The SJSU starting lineup was Matt Ballard, Wil Carter, Keith Shamburger, Adrian Oliver and Justin Graham.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Spartan Daily SJSU - Whitman game report

Courtesy of the Spartan Daily, here's a great Keith Shamburger photo along with the game report of the San Jose State victory over Whitman.

Off to Eastern Washington on Friday

SJSU v Eastern Washington - Friday, November 12 , 5:35 p.m.

Eastern Washington is a member of the Big Sky Conference and located in Cheney, Washington (and no, the former vice president didn't invade and take over the town so obviously no WMD was located). The community was originally called the rather ominous sounding Section Thirteen, then the bucolic Willow Springs, followed by Depot Springs upon the railroad arriving. Billings was its fourth name until Cheney was settled on to honor a director of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Returning to hoops, the Eagles were selected to finish sixth in the Big Sky Conference in both the media and coaches recent polls.

EW, which finished 9-21 overall and 5-11 in the Big Sky Conference, has no seniors on its 2010-11 roster. But three returning starting guards provide a solid foundation, including last year's Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year Glen Dean.

Besides Dean, returning starters include fellow sophomores Jeffrey Forbes and Kevin Winford, who averaged 11.0 and 6.9 points, respectively, a year ago. Forbes was also one of the top newcomers in the league, averaging 13.2 points in 16 Big Sky Conference games as he started 27 of 30 games in the 2009-10 season.

The fourth returning letter winner is 6-foot-8 Laron Griffin, who averaged 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds last season. Other inside players include junior college transfers Cliff Ederaine (6-foot-7) and Rashano McRae (6-foot-7), as well as true freshmen Jaylen Henry (6-foot-7) and Carter Warnock (6-foot-9).

Coach Kirk Earlywine has also brought in highly-touted and very athletic Tremayne Johnson. He was recruited by San Francisco and Arizona, but originally signed a letter of intent with the Eagles in spring 2009 and then re-signed in November 2009.

Plus, 6-foot-0 junior college transfer Cliff Colimon is expected to help out at the point.

"We can certainly build around those three returning guards, as well as Laron Griffin and Tremayne Johnson," Earlywine added. "For the first time we have a core of players that are going to be in the program for a number of years that we can build with. But we have to add pieces to it."

EWU most recently fell in exhibition play to Montana State-Billings, now coached by former Idaho mentor George Pfeifer. Here's the game writeup by Steve Bergum of the Spokane Spokesman Review:

"Not surprisingly, the nearly unfathomable run of injuries that continues to plague the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team made the Eagles’ 66-60 exhibition loss to Montana State-Billings at Reese Court Monday night downright painful to watch. For everyone.

With sophomore Glen Dean, last year’s starting point guard, sidelined indefinitely with a stress fracture in his foot, and first-year junior college transfer Cliff Colimon unable to play because of an ankle sprain he sustained in practice Sunday, EWU found itself without a point guard against the NCAA Division II Yellowjackets.

As a result, coach Kirk Earlywine juggled things in an attempt to find some offensive consistency.

None was uncovered. Eastern shot a miserable 25 percent (15 of 60) from the floor and missed 13 of 40 free throw attempts in dropping its second, and final, exhibition game prior to Friday night’s regular-season and home opener against San Jose State.

“Offensively tonight, it was very obvious that we were playing without a point guard,” Earlywine said, after watching his team get only four assists. “And that was painful.”

Eastern’s three front-line starters were a combined 7 of 30.

“And how many of those were from point-blank?” Earlywine asked. “A lot of those shots were at the front of rim, but I thought they hurried a little bit and pressed a little bit.”

The Eagles made only two of their first 16 basket tries and trailed 30-23 at halftime. But they put together a nice 14-3 run comng out of intermission and took a 37-33 lead before suffering through a field-goal drought that lasted nearly 7½ minutes."

Here is the game writeup of the earlier loss to Seattle Pacific (a team that beat Nevada in Reno):

Playing without two returning starting guards, Eastern Washington University opened its 2010-11 season with an 87-82 exhibition loss to Seattle Pacific Tuesday (Nov. 2) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

Junior college transfer Tremayne Johnson led the Eagles with 22 points as EWU rallied from a 17-point deficit early in the second half. Eastern pulled to within three on several occasions late in the game.

Seattle Pacific made 62 percent of their shots from the floor, including 16-of-24 in the first half when it took a 40-30 halftime lead. The lead ballooned to 17 when the Falcons scored the first seven points of the second half.

"It we would have came out and played really, really hard defensively in the first half and run out of gas, I could have lived with that," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine, who played eight players in the game. "I knew fatigue was going to be a factor. But they shot 62 percent -- 66 percent in the first half. I don't know if up to this point I've impressed upon the new players how hard you have to play and how much of a focus you have to have every day in practice. That's why you play these games."

"We have to play better and we have to defend better," he added.

Eastern played without sophomore guards Glen Dean and Jeffrey Forbes, who are both out with injuries. Dean is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his foot after averaging 12.2 points and 4.4 assists a year ago. Forbes sat out with a knee strain and averaged 11.0 points in his debut season.

Johnson made 7-of-11 shots from the field and 8-of-9 free throws, and also had three assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals in his Eagle debut. Another newcomer, guard Cliff Colimon contributed 19 points, four rebounds, three steals and a pair of assists.

Both newcomers played 37 minutes, and another newcomer, Cliff Ederaine, played 26 minutes and had nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

Dean and Coliman are apparently still unable to play, at least according to EWU -- "Earlywine isn’t counting on either player being available for the opener against the Spartans..."

Here's the EWU roster (by position and alphabetized)

Glen Dean G 5-10 170 So. Seattle, Wash. / Laurinburg Institute Prep
Cliff Colimon G 6-0 170 Jr. Brooklyn, N.Y. / Eastern Utah JC
Sean Fischer G 6-0 170 Fr. Spokane, Wash. / Gonzaga Prep '09
Willie Hankins G 6-3 190 Fr. Van Nuys, Calif. / The College Preparatory School '10
Jeffrey Forbes G 5-10 170 So. Federal Way, Wash. / Federal Way HS '09
Kevin Winford G 5-11 170 So. Anchorage, Alaska / Bartlett HS '08

Geoffrey Allen G/F 6-5 170 Fr. Los Angeles, Calif. / Pacific Hills HS '10

Rocky Brown F 6-6 200 Fr. HS Fresno, Calif. / Central HS '10
Cliff Ederaine F 6-7 205 Jr. JC Moreno Valley, Calif. / College of the Sequoias
Laron Griffin F 6-8 220 Jr. Los Angeles, Calif. / L.A. Southwest College
Jaylen Henry F 6-7 230 Fr. Las Vegas, Nev. / Cheyenne HS '10
Morgan Hyslop F 6-7 200 Jr. Spokane, Wash. / Columbus Basin CC
Tremayne Johnson F 6-7 200 Jr. Los Angeles, Calif. / L.A. Southwest College
Rashano McRae F 6-7 230 Jr. Bronx, N.Y. / Highland JC, Kan.
Carter Warnock F 6-9 220 Fr. Chandler, Ariz. / Seton Catholic HS '10

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Diary entry #2 from Khufu Najee

(Khufu Najee is a 6-foot-3 wing and a freshman at Diablo Valley College. he is verbally committed to San Jose State)

It has been a long week, real productive though. Had a slight ankle sprain on Thursday which kept me out of practice for the rest of the day, but we had a three-day weekend so I had time for it to heal before practice this week.

Spent a lot of time in the trainer's office these past three days, got a lot of stim treatment and icing on my ankle which helped, so practicing on Monday will be no problem. That slight injury really got to me, even though I was only out a day, it's just too close to the season to take a day off.

Less than two weeks until our first game. Louis Lowe going to be my roommate during our season opener because we are going to be gone for about five days. I hope you all know who Lowe is, but if you don't believe me you will after this season, that kid can hoop.

On a more personal note, I sign my LOI [letter-of-intent] on Wednesday. That's exciting but that signing is just so that we can seal the deal and I can really go all in this year. But Saturday, the 13th, is the big signing and all my family and friends are going to be there -- you only get one of these.

I feel blessed. I'm living inside the moment and life is all too much fun right now.

Khufu Najee

A Derek Brown update

Freshman backcourter Derek Brown will redshirt this season due to the abundance of upperclassmen guards this season.

A Brylle Kamen update

Spartan newcomer Brylle Kamen, 6-foot-7 235, must sit out the first 8-9 games of this season per the NCAA, due to his earlier basketball participation in France.

Anthony Dixon at West Valley College

Anthony Dixon, a 6-foot-5 freshman at San Jose State last season, is now listed on the roster of the West Valley College basketball team. The artsy photo is from the West Valley athletics site.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

It's San Jose State 109-92

History tells us they were from different eras -- that being the Spartans and the Missionaries -- although the latter can be found in most, if not all, centuries.

But it was no match for the pairing this afternoon as San Jose State quickly put Whitman into a position of trailing, continued it all game long and ended up with a 109-92 victory.

Strong outside-shooting in the second half brought the point difference close but the outcome never remained in doubt.

Freshman Keith "ShamWow" Shamburger baptized the Missionaries with the opening seven points of the game. Hence, Spartan Hoops will unofficially nickname him Trey since he netted a passel of three-pointers. The southern California native finished with 30 points, after also leading the point total for San Jose State in the earlier scrimmage against Sacramento State..

Besides Shamburger's three times 10, Adrian Oliver finished with 24, Justin Graham 18, Wil Carter 16 and Calvin Douglas 14.

It was this starting five that opened the season for SJSU: Matt Ballard in the middle, Carter in the corner with Oliver, Graham and Shamburger handling the wing/backcourt spots.

At the half, the Spartans led 61-36. San Jose State shot 20-32 overall, 6-10 from long distance and 15-17 at the foul line. More importantly, the SJSU held Whitman to 35% overall shooting. But overall, based on the second 20 minutes especially, the Missionaries finished at 42% shooting, including a strong 18-35 on trey attempts.

A note: it was not a good week for Whitman-ites and we will unequivocally quash the rumor that Meg Whitman has offered to donate $140 million to the Walla Walla-based school if she is named president there.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Catching up with Matt Misko

here is Matt and his wife Jennifer in Maui last January

Matt Misko patrolled the middle for San Jose State basketball in the 2004-2006 seasons. Now, he is looking out for business opportunities. Showing his Spartan pride, Matt attended the recent intra-squad scrimmage. We did a Q-and-A with him:

SH - What are you up to now work-wise and away from work?

MM - I am a Commercial Banker within Comerica Bank's Equity Funds Group in Menlo Park. I started in April 2010 after serving a couple years as a Credit Analyst primarily in the San Jose Middle Market Group. My business responsibilities include sourcing and managing relationships with Equity Fund and Venture Capital firms, with a focus in loans. I’ve worked with Comerica Bank since January 2007 after graduating in the Fall of 2006. Away from work, my wife (Jennifer) and I like to spend time with friends and family, and will often take day trips around the Bay Area to sightsee. No big hobbies now, Jennifer is finishing up her Masters in Clinical Psychology at San Jose State and supporting her has been a big priority for me. I am looking forward to her graduating in May 2011. I do try to work in any time I can for pickup basketball games.

SH - What did you major in while at San Jose State and why did you choose it?

MM - Business Management. This was a broad degree that I thought would give me flexibility to pursue my choice of careers after school. Honestly, I never put much thought into my post-basketball ambitions while growing up in the Central Valley (Lindsay). I was around many accomplished people, but their careers revolved around agriculture, a field that is virtually non-existent in the Bay Area but something I eventually want to be involved in.

SH - Any goals you have set for the future?

MM - Goals have only been set for the short term since getting married prior to my senior year at SJSU. The last of the series is Jennifer graduating from the Clinical Psychology Masters Program which will occur this coming May! I’ll have to reassess after that.

SH - What is your best SJSU basketball memory or memories?

MM - Playing in my first game, I asked the Assistant Coach, Dennis Cutts, to relieve me after the first couple minutes of the game and he replied “Ahh, you’ll be alright.” Sure enough I caught my second wind and played well.

SH - Which, if any, former teammates do you stay in touch with?

MM - No regular contact with any, but do have most as a Facebook friend.

SH - While at SJSU, who was the most talented opponent you matched up with?

MM - Paul Millsap from Louisiana Tech. He was the top rebounder in the nation and had a knack for getting his hands on the ball. I remember having him boxed out behind the backboard in one game and he still came out with the rebound. He’s going on his 4th year with the Utah Jazz.

SH - What advice would you offer if you were talking with high school players in the midst of trying to get a college scholarship?

MM - If you have the talent, then don’t quit. It’s an accomplishment that you will always have to reflect on and there are several avenues to achieve it if you are willing to put in the work. I got in with a successful Junior College stop and coming in as a walk-on won’t necessarily preclude you from earning a scholarship either. Whatever the route, be prepared and determined to work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life. Also, don’t lose focus on the end goal, which should be a solid education and include strong classroom performance in preparation for a life after basketball.

SH - How is your brother David doing?

MM - He’s doing well. He is a police officer in Southern California and just got married in July. Our new ‘weird twin story’ is that our wives have the same names, Jennifer Lynne Misko. He’s helping out as an assistant coach for a varsity men’s basketball team at a local high school as well.

Thank you Matt, we appreciate you taking the time to update us.

Whiteman, Saturday p.m. at Walt McPherson Court

Whitman College, out of Washington, is a member of the D-III Northwest Conference and the opponent of San Jose State University on Saturday afternoon -- 3 p.m. -- at Walt McPherson Court. Located in Walla Walla (known as the town so nice they named it twice), the team is called the Missionaries but we think they missed the boat by not going with the Sweet Onions.

Anyway, Eric Bridgeland coaches the squad and he knows the Bay Area well having been the head man with the UCSC men's basketball program in Santa Cruz for a couple of years. Most recently, he led Puget Sound to great success and also worked as an assistant at Pepperdine.

Bridgeland's teams play uptempo (remember the Puget Sound game at Walt McPherson Court a few years back? It was a barrage of three-pointers).

In an earlier article, Bridgeland said, "We're built for speed. The best players we can get admitted to Whitman are combo guards and tweeners, and the program is built around them. We want to get up and down the floor and utilize their versatility. Speed, versatility and pressure are the three concepts we hang our hats on."

He added, "Guard penetration is the future of basketball, and it happens to be exciting...We have a lot more length and a lot more quickness, depth and shooting. Offensively, we just need to share the ball. We're penetration-based, and we'll both shoot the 3 and get to the rim. We also have three or four guys who can post up. We have a lot versatility, but we'll look to get good shots early and run at every opportunity...We'll always look to pick up full and pressure, more so at times than others. We want to dictate the game."

From the Whitman athletics site comes these player descriptions:

* 6-foot-2 junior guard Brandon Shaw, who earned All-NWC Honorable Mention recognition last season while averaging a team-high 14.9 points per game also led the NWC in steals, averaging 2.38 per game.

* 6-foot-0 senior guard Justin Artis is back after averaging 12.6 points and contributing to a ball-hawking defense that led the NWC in steals a year ago.

* freshmen Josh Duckworth, a 6-foot-2 guard, and Seth Brent, a 6-foot-7 forward, are part of a recruiting class that will strengthen the core of returning players...The newcomers also include first-year sophomore Ryan Gilkey, 6-foot-7 forward.

There are a trio of players with Bay Area connections so some family and friends will be there Saturday rooting for the Missionaries:

* Drew Raher - a grad of Terra Linda High in Marin County
* Ignas Pavilonis - out of a Woodside area high school and Canada College
* Drew Raher - a St. Ignatius Prep (San Francisco) grad

Here's the Whitman roster, broken down by position and alphabetized:

* Justin Artis G 6-0 185 Sr.Tacoma WA
* Jordan Dickson G 6-1 Fr. Spokane WA
* Josh Duckworth G 6-2 Fr. Los Angeles CA
* Brandon Shaw G 6-2 170 Jr. Dallas TX

* Juan Pablo Alvarez G/F 6-4 195 Jr. Quito, Ecuador
* Peter Clark W 6-4 190 So. Flagstaff AZ

* Seth Brent F 6-7 Fr. Bend OR
* Ryan Gilkey F 6-7 220 So. Woodinville WA
* Ryan Guisness F 6-6 Fr. Kirkland WA
* David Michaels F 6-7 215 Jr. Las Vegas NV
* Ignas Pavilonis F 6-5 So. Lithuania
* Drew Raher F 6-3 195 So. San Francisco CA
* LuQuam Thompson G 5-11 160 So. Tacoma WA

Here is the listed San Jose State roster, again broken down by position and alphabetized:

* Derek Brown G 6-2 185 Fr. Los Angeles, Calif. (Chino Hills HS)
* Calvin Douglas G 6-3 215 Jr. Antioch, Calif. (City College of San Francisco)
* Justin Graham G 6-4 195 Sr. Ripon, Calif. (Ripon HS)
* Chris Jones G 6-4 205 So. Hayward, Calif. (Newark Memorial HS)
* Aalim Moor G 6-3 194 So. Oakland, Calif. (St. Mary's HS)
* Adrian Oliver G 6-4 210 Sr. Modesto, Calif. (U. of Washington)
* Keith Shamburger G 5-11 170 Fr. Lakewood, Calif. (Serra HS)

* Matt Ballard F 6-9 220 Jr. Foothill Ranch, Calif. (Irvine Valley College, UC Irvine)
* Wil Carter F 6-8 215 Jr. Pocatello, Idaho (Salt Lake Community College)
* Jerry Casey F 6-8 195 So. San Luis Obispo, Calif. (Mission College Prep)
* Billy Dick F 6-6 235 Jr. San Jose, Calif. (San Jose City College) (Silver Creek HS)
* Brylle Kamen F 6-7 235 So. Paris, France (Western Nebraska College)
* Garrett Ton F 6-8 222 Jr. Torrance, Calif. (West Torrance HS)

* Joe Henson C 6-8 245 So. Pasadena, Calif. (Pasadena HS)

More press for AO

Here's the folks at Rush The Court lauding Adrian Oliver as a 2010-2011 Impact Player:

Adrian Oliver - Sr, G – San Jose State.
If you happen to be standing next to Adrian Oiver right now, do us a favor and point in the direction of any basketball goal, no matter how far away from one you are. Adrian Oliver is in range. As in green-light shooting range. Of that goal. He’s the second leading scorer (22.5 PPG) returning to college this season (Lipscomb’s Adnan Hodzic got him by 0.2 PPG) and fourth overall from last year. And here’s what impresses us more than that: even with such long-range accuracy (40.8% from three point range in 2009-10), the guy still shot a pretty darn admirable 43.7% from the field last year. Pair that with lights-out accuracy from the free throw line (88.7% last year, ranking him 32nd nationally), and you can see why opponents have trouble defending him. You can’t leave him open from deep, and you can’t get physical with him and send him to the line. To say that the Spartans rely on Oliver is an understatement; his usage rate (the number of possessions a player utilizes while on the floor ­ that’s right, we’re going tempo-free on you!) registered at a whopping 59.8%, landing him 10th nationally. Even when shooting a standstill jumper, Oliver has a natural backwards drift and a big leg kick on his shot, which makes his fade-away even more deadly. That’s his favorite move, by far ­ whether it’s off a drive, a crossover, coming off a screen, or standing still with a man in front of him, Oliver loves to bait his defender with that one last forward jab step, and the next thing you know he’s falling away from you with all kinds of room to get that shot away. It’s gorgeous. You will not likely see a prettier fade-away in the game this season. And if you’re in the WAC, see it you shall, because not only can Oliver create his own shot just fine, but consider this: of the top six scorers from last season’s SJSU squad, only one besides Oliver is returning. That means more touches (and a climbing usage rate, of course). That means more chances to see that fade-away. That means that, barring something unfortunate and/or unforseen, the WAC Player of the Year race is over.


From the folks at the Searching for Billy Edelin site:

Adrian Oliver (Senior; San Jose State)- Washington University is famous for producing NBA ready guards (think Nate Robinson/Brandon Roy). Try preaching that to Adrian Oliver. The 6’4’’ shooting guard left Washington six games into his sophomore campaign, transferred to San Jose State, and never looked back. Oliver is coming off a stellar junior year in which he finished fourth in the nation in scoring (22.5PPG) shooting 40% from three. His range is endless, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a sweeter fadeaway jumper in the collegiate ranks.
Here are a few minutes of AO highlights.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Q-and-A with Coach Nessman

SpartanHoops recently did a Q-and-A with Coach George Nessman -- here you go. We'll have the Whitman game preview to you soon.

It all begins on Saturday.

SH - What do you see as the biggest challenge this approaching season?

GN - Our biggest challenge is finding consistent success. For the most part ,that means winning away from home for our program as we have had a winning record at home for a number of seasons now, with an especially strong record last year in the San Jose. We have overcome many obstacles and challenges in developing the program - one hurdle that remains is qualifying for the post season. For a team to have an excellent season, it must find a way to play at least or near .500 on the road while maintaining a significant home court advantage. Our confidence is very high that we will jump this bar this season.

SH - Does the 2010-2011 Spartan squad have the frontcourt size to handle WAC play?

GN - Of course we have enough size in the front court to compete in the WAC.

SH - The dunk and the long distance shot get all the SportsCenter play and what prior positive actions that took place in making those things happen is usually ignored. What do you track offensively that you stress to the players but is generally oblivious to most fans?

GN - Coaches see things that fans miss even though as some fans would have it we can't see the hand in front of our faces! We spend literally thousands of hours in the gym and watching film, observing basketball so our sight is honed. What we look for in developing offense are interactive plays - proper ball movement, screen actions, quality spacing, cuts away from the ball, competing for effective space near the rim are just a few on our radar. Basketball is the most interactive of all sports - it is the ultimate team game in which the players must be in cohesion or the team cannot function at either end of the court - this is probably even more pronounced on offense.

Players must understand their own strengths and play to them. They must be aware of teammates strengths and play to them. That is the essence of filling a role on a basketball team. Two phrases we use to encourage confidence on offense are; do what you do and do what we do.

In person or on tv, the focus is on the ball so the player with the ball draws the primary attention. However, there are four more players out there who need to be moving in concert for offense to work. We have to discipline ourselves as coaches to be ever mindful of what is happening away from the ball because we recognize it's value. Players have to be aware of their position on the floor at all times - sometimes simply to stay out of the way of teammates.

SH - Fans always hear about steals and blocked shots as defensive bellwethers but one aspect of stopping teams from scoring that gets short-shrifted is deflections. Is that as aspect you emphasize and track? If so, why

GN - Our production on defense will in large measure define our season. Steals and blocks are noted by many as signs of defensive prowess, but are not necessarily significant indicators of quality team defense. We make note of deflections - they certainly have a place in good defensive effort regardless of the primary defensive scheme or strategy involved. However, the single most reliable indicator of good team defense is defensive field goal percentage. That derives from putting solid pressure on the ball, challenging shots and not allowing your opponents too many shots near the rim.

SH - Based on observations from the intra-scrimmage, the team seems more intent on reducing open looks outside and unimpeded shots in the paint. Is that your sense?

GN - The narrative from last season was we simply didn't play well enough defensively to stay in the WAC race down the stretch. The stats seem to back that up as on many offensive metrics we were amongst the leaders in the WAC (and the nation for a few) and on many defensive ones we were near the bottom of the WAC. We can't ignore these numbers, and we haven't. The key though in all things is not identifying problems - its identifying solutions.

Our lack of effective depth due to a variety of factors hurt our team. Our defensive effectiveness sagged as the calendar turned to February. Defense requires considerable more energy, stamina and intensity than offense so lack of depth is a key factor. The feel of playing on offense is different than the feel while playing defense when done properly.

We also failed to instill a consistent physical, protect the rim mentality that is so vital to defense. We have broken this down for our guys, and they certainly have embraced a more physical approach. To expect to be more physical in games we need to practice in that manner on a day to day basis.