It's SJSU going up against Idaho tomorrow at noon. It's a Vandal team that went 9-7 in conference play, (tied for third place) 18-12 overall.
Coach Don Verlin's team is not an overpowering squad, more appropriately described as the epitome of the whole being better than the sum of the parts. That formula bodes well when all the elements are working together smoothly, such as the February 9 64-56 home win against Utah State. But then there was the November 22 75-33 road loss to Montana when all was off-kilter. The January 22 71-56 loss to Louisiana Tech probably falls somewhere in-between -- some parts in synch with others haywire.
Which group of Vandals will be on display Thursday is anyone's guess.
Plus, will Idaho be rested or stale? Again, who knows?
The two players who usually do the most damage are:
Guard Jeff Ledbetter, a second team All-WAC honoree is the team barometer. He buried 55 treys in WAC action, totaled 15.1 points per game, was tops in free throw percentage at 87% and third in steals. He's not necessarily a creator, benefiting more from coming off screens for open looks, a la what Utah State (Verlin's previous address) utilizes. Ledbetter needs to be on for the Vandals to succeed.
Center Kyle Barone averaged 13.2 points and six rebounds per game in WAC play, shooting an amazing 61% from the floor. He also possesses excellent hands so Idaho rarely commits turnovers on entry passes to him. He does need added weight and strength though.
Verlin's guys are obviously handling a number of on-court matters efficiently. They are shooting 47% overall (tops in the WAC) versus SJSU's 40%, 39% to 36% in treys.
The comparative filed goal percentage defense numbers are 41% for the Vandals to the Spartans' 45%. In defending the three-pointer, Idaho is holding opponents to 30% to SJSU's 35%.
San Jose State leads 37 to 32 in rebounding numbers.
Can anything be gleaned from the previous two meetings between these teams?
SJSU wins in double overtime 92-89
February 3, 2011
What quickly became apparent is that neither team was going to run away from the other -- the Idaho and San Jose State squads were very evenly matched on the 30 degree night in Moscow. That was outside, thankfully not inside the Cowan Spectrum, for the literal-minded.
At the half, the score was 29-28. Adrian Oliver led SJSU with 12 points (5-9 shooting) and Justin Graham contributed nine.
At the 15:53 mark of the second 20 minutes, it was the Spartans ahead 33-32. SJSU upped the margin to two, 42-40, with 12:59 showing.
San Jose State was down by four at the 7:45 mark but an Oliver and1 three-point play cut it to one.
Eventually, a Jeff Ledbetter trey upped the Vandal margin to six, 55-49. Brandon Wiley put back in an offensive rebound to make it eight.
With 3:55 on the clock, Graham followed with his own and1 three-point effort to reduce the deficit to five.
Kyle Barone scored inside, was fouled and nailed the free throw, boosting the point differential back to eight.
Oliver then tickled the twine with a hook shot.
With 2:31 showing, Shawn Henderson sank two free throws to make it 62-54.
Barone's jumphook in the paint made it 10.
Graham followed with a jumper from the foul line.
After a steal by Wil Carter, Keith Shamburger was fouled in the act of shooting. He sank both, making it 64-58 at the 1:58 mark.
Wiley was fouled in the lane with 1:16 showing and made both -- score 66-58.
Carter grabbed a loose ball and scored with 58 seconds left.
Shamburger tipped the ball away from his opponent, Graham got it and hit Shamburger with a pass. The freshman backcourter scored, was fouled by Wiley and made the free throw. making it 66-63 at the 45 second mark.
Carter was then elbowed by Wiley who was called for an intentional foul. Carter was awarded a pair of free throws -- he missed the first and then the second. SJSU then was awarded possession with 23 seconds left.
Graham quickly nailed a top of the key trey with 18 second showing.
Idaho got the last shot attempt but it wasn't close, creating an overtime period.
Oliver was fouled and missed both free throws. Carter rebounded the second miss and scored on the putback.
Barone was fouled by Matt Ballard and made both.
Oliver entered the lane with the ball, lifted and scored. He also was fouled and he notched a three-point play. SJSU led 71-68.
But Jeff Ledbetter came down and sank his own trey attempt,. making it 71 all.
London Tatum was fouled on a driving layup attempt, sending him to the foul line. He missed the first but made the second.
Oliver put in a leftside trey but Matt Ballard was called for an intentional foul, sending Barone to the charity stripe. He made both and Idaho also retained possession of the ball.
Luiz Toledo buried a jumper to put Idaho ahead 76-74.
Henderson then buried a leftside three-pointer after stealing a pass.
Graham was fouled on a dribble-drive, sank both and cut the margin to 79-76.
1:40 shone on the clock.
Idaho missed a shot and Oliver rebounded.
With 37 seconds remaining, Carter put back a miss by Shamburger.
The Vandals led by one.
Tatum, a 61% free throw shooter, was fouled with 27 second sleft.
He made the first, then the second and Idaho was up three.
At the eight second mark, Keith Shamburger scored on a three-pointer, evening up the game.
Idaho called timeout with six seconds.
But Kyle Barone missed a turnaround jumper, sending the game into a second overtime.
Carter won the tip, Shamburger missed but Carter rebounded. Another trey attempt by Shamburger was good.
Ledbetter missed his own trey attempt but Idaho rebounded. Shamburger was called for a reach in foul on Luiz Toledo. The latter sank the first but missed the second.
Graham hit Shamburger with a pass and the frosh nailed another trey, making it 87-82.
Idaho missed a three-pointer but SJSU committed a turnover. It was 87-84 after Toledo hit another jumper.
A couple of missed shots later, Idaho got the ball. Ledbetter rebounded a miss and was fouled. He made both -- the score 87-86 with 1:42 showing.
Graham scored on a jumper, boosting the lead back to three.
But Ledbetter scored on a leftside trey, evening up the game.
Shamburger was fouled with 23 seconds left. He missed the first and sank the second.
SJSU led by one, 90-89.
Ledbetter then missed on a drive, Ballard rebounded and Carter scored on a dunk to finally close out the marathon.
Justin Graham paced the Spartans with 28 points. Adrian Oliver contributed 25, Keith Shamburger 20 and Wil Carter 17.
Here's our game report Walt McPherson Court from January 8, 2011:
Spartans fall to Idaho 75-67
It was 'Famous Potatoes' times two this week for San Jose State but neither game left a pleasant aftertaste as Idaho also topped the Spartans tonight 75-67.
SJSU led 35-27 after the initial 20 minutes, looking in a degree of command if not control, but the Vandals lived up to their forebearers namesake in the second half with a 48-32 rampage.
The last eight minutes of the matchup was an Idaho scoring blitz. Adrian Oliver led with 25 points. Justin Graham passed for nine assists while Brylle Kamen topped the Spartans in rebounding with 11, his second straight double figures outing. He played 29 minutes, making his first appearance as a starter. Calvin Douglas contributed 12 on 5-7 shooting from the floor, 2-4 on trey attempts.
Deremy Geiger led Don Verlin's squad with 17 points but four other Vandals finished in double figures: Luiz Toledo and Jeff Ledbetter with 13 apiece and Shawn Herson and Kyle Barone each totaling 11. Toledo led the board effort with nine rebounds. Idaho shot 50% for the game to SJSU's 37%. Each of the other statistical categories were either a wash or close to it.
The Vandal Starting Five
* Deremy Geiger 5-11 (on a 'long' day) -- 51/25 assist to turnover ratio, 3.2 assists-per-game, the most creative of the Vandals but is usually very on or off.
* Jeff Ledbetter 6-2 -- 15.1 ppg., 46% on three-pointers (55-119), 87% on free throws (42-48)
* Shawn Henderson 6-3 -- 43% (19-44) on treys
* Luiz Toledo 6-8 -- 10.0 ppg., shooting 58% (52-90), he's a banger inside
* Kyle Barone 6-10 -- -- 13.2 ppg., 64% shooting overall (69-107), 78% (47-60) free throws, six boards a contest, he's slim but long and needs to be kept out of any sort of shooting rhythm in the paint
Barone and Toledo may start upfront or Verlin may go with one or the other plus Brandon Wiley -- all dependent on his desire for certain matchups
Off The Bench
* Brandon Wiley 6-5 -- a glue guy, he isn't outstanding in any one thing but rebounds, blocks shots and scores inside on putbacks and the like
* Landon Tatum 5-11 -- top assist-to-turnover ratio in the WAC 56-21, 3.5 assists a game
* Stephen Madison 6-5 -- a burly freshman reserve, not shooting particularly well
The Vandal roster (alphabetized, by position)
Matt Borton G 6-5 180 Fr
Deremy Geiger G 5-11 170 Jr.
Shawn Henderson G 6-3 178 Sr.
Jeff Ledbetter G 6-2 195 Sr.
Shayne Sheridan G 6-0 170 Jr. (walk-on)
Landon Tatum G 5-11 196 Jr.
Brandon Wiley F 6-5 218 Sr.
Paul Jorg F 6-8 200 Fr. (walk-on)
Stephen Madison F 6-5 215 Fr.
Luiz Toledo F 6-8 225 Jr.
Kyle Barone C 6-10 220 So.
Joe Kammerer C 6-9 241 Fr. (redshirted last year)