Thursday, February 27, 2014

Utah State here on Saturday

It's a different Utah State or make that a differently situated USU hitting Walt McPherson Court come Saturday. At the end of February and regardless of the year, the Aggies are usually far and away the best team in their conference or easily beating back pesky pretenders to the throne.

But 2014 finds Stew Morrill and Company with an overall 15-13 record plus a very unfamiliar 5-11 Mountain West Conference performance. The lack of consistency, an overall lack of athleticism plus a roster of talents who cannot generate their own shot has weighed the Aggies down and also caused a 3-7 road record.

But before deigning them to the scrap heap, it's worth noting the Aggies battled New Mexico tough, and in The Pit, before falling 67-58 on Tuesday. USU actually led 27-26 at the half.

Utah State is still a Spencer Butterfield and Preston Medlin team, the three and the two in the starting lineup. They and fellow senior Jarred Shaw, who is the five, generally need to provide solid game contributions in order to Morrill's guys to triumph. At the point is TeNale Roland and Marcel Davis. The former has enjoyed a few point explosions this season but is fifth on the team in shots attempted. Jalen Moore, a freshman forward, will be a time and probably as a wing. Kyle Davis has been up and down at the four spot.

USU is about a -80 vis-a-vis turnovers this season. The Aggies don't employ an aggressive defensive style and therefore don't get many steals and such but also generally don't commit many but being underwater in this category is unusual territory.

Here's an excerpt from Salt Lake Tribune USU beat reporter Kyle Goon:
Senior night at the Spectrum is fast approaching, less than a week away.

But Spencer Butterfield has a more personal night coming up on Saturday at San Jose State, where he will play a mere two hours from his hometown. Many of his family and friends are gladly driving the distance to get a final live look at Butterfield in an Aggie uniform.

"They’re calling it my senior night," he said. "That’s how I’m looking at it: It’s like my senior night on the road. I’m excited to get down there."

Not only will Utah State get a chance to get a conference win on the road against the Spartans — the last-place team in the Mountain West — the Aggies may get a hometown bump from Butterfield. Last time he played at the Event Center, he notched a team-high 22 points and 10 rebounds.

He’s not the only NorCal native looking forward to a homecoming of sorts. Freshman guard JoJo McGlaston said he’s expecting as many as 150 friends and family from his hometown of Dublin, Calif., only a 30-minute drive.

McGlaston’s first Division I offer came from San Jose State, and the game has been circled on his calendar, so to speak, since the schedule came out.

"High school, college friends, family — everybody’s going to be out there," he said...

These two teams met on January 4 -- here's that game report:
The return of Jarred Shaw helped Utah State take the 86-67 victory over SJSU but a 20 rebound differential -- 44 to 22 -- is still startling.

The factors: both Chris Cunningham and Jaleel Williams fouled out with neither reaching the 30 minute mark (Cunningham was limited to just 17 60-second turns on the clock). Therefore, freshman Matt Pollard saw 20 minutes of action, shot 2-2 and blocked a pair of shots but registered no rebounds.

Rashad Muhammad paced the Spartans with 20 points (6-9 from three-point range) as the Washington Square guys lofted 35 trey attempts in 57 overall shots, many of them before Utah State engaged defensively.

But worth noting is earning 16 assists on 24 baskets, indicating solid Spartan ball movement.

Coming off the bench, point TeNale Roland had a career night with 20 points (7-7 overall shooting, 5-5 from beyond the stripe and all in the second half). He got a late run by the Aggies started which put the game out of reach.
 Plus, here's our game preview from earlier:
...Yes, sharpshooting guard Preston Medlin (47% from long distance, 50/15 assist-to-turnover ratio) is back and tied for the lead with Spencer Butterfield (6.5 rebounds an outing) in scoring at 14.2 points per game. But the former stands 6-foot-4 and the latter 6-foot-3. Both are solid contributors but no Jaycee Carroll, meaning neither can take over a contest. They are best as cogs in a well-oiled and multi-threat offensive machine.

6-foot-7 forward Kyle Davis is contributing 10.1 points plus 8.6 rebounds (and 20 blocked shots) but it's a scramble after that as nobody else is steadily adding to the Aggie attack.

6-foot-7 freshman forward Jalen Moore will be a very good player in time but he's hit-and-miss at the moment.

Neither Ben Clifford at 6-foot-7 nor 6-foot-10 Jordan Stone are going to often outplay their respective opponents in the paint. Clifford can be a sneaky scorer but more if he's getting overlooked because of the focus being elsewhere. Stone is best at defending.

6-foot-6 Danny Berger, who went through that horrendous situation in a practice last year where his heart stopped, has receded a bit in his effect.

At the point Marcel Davis starts and TeNale Roland is his backup but neither is capable of a breakout offensive performance.
Best of all we get to present this: here's Sean Harris, a USU reserve out of the Sacramento area, who received some national attention for his coiffure.

New offer out to a power forward

Via Verbal Commits: "2014 Sylmar (CA) F Devenir Duruisseau has received an offer from San Jose State"

For those who believe in omens: his high school team mascot nickname is the Spartans.

Here's a January, 2013 article on the 6-foot-8, 230 pound young man.

Here's a 2013 video:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

San Diego State's offensive woes

Matt Giles digs deep into San Diego State's 'offensive' numbers. It's an informative look in explaining how the Aztecs defense is carrying the team.

A pair of MWC basketball columns

Chris Murray serves up his weekly Mountain West Conference team rankings.

He has the Spartans last but with this comment: "SJSU had to beat somebody this MWC season. It just so happened to be Nevada in Reno last week. That was one of the Wolf Pack’s worst losses in the past decade, but it was good to see SJSU get to celebrate at least one league win."

Robert Kuwada also provides his weekly MWC take.

Two more takes on the game

Here is Brad Best's coverage of the game.

Mark Ziegler also game reports.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

SJSU falls 90-64

It took a while for San Diego State to get its big hurt ready and rolling but such finally made an appearance and the game became out of reach for San Jose State University in the second half, finishing at 90-64.

The Washington Square-ites were stuck on 38 points from the 15:45 mark in the second half until nine minutes remained.

Down 44-30 after the initial 20 minutes, the Spartans were burdened with 14 turnovers, 11 steals by the Aztecs and zero appearances at the foul line. A streak of points, even just six or seven, coming out in the second half would get them back in the game.

That didn't take place.

On the game, 27 of San Jose's 53 shots were of the beyond the arc variety and connecting on 37% isn't bad -- it was going 10-26 closer in that hurt the Spartans.

Junior forward Jaleel Williams paced SJSU with both 14 points plus eight boards and freshman guard Rashad Muhammad also finished with 14. The latter typified tonight's performance: 4-8 from beyond the arc, 0-5 from two-point range. Chris Cunningham enjoyed nine points (just three shots) and six boards.

It's worth noting to see if Matt Pollard can build upon his production tonight: five points and a trio of rebounds.

Here's a bevy of game photos.

Utah State comes to town on Saturday. In The Pit tonight, the Aggies battled New Mexico tough before falling 67-58. USU led 27-26 at the half.

Interesting words from Stew Morrill

Utah State Coach Stew Morrill:
Perhaps one of the biggest adjustments for the Aggies in the conference switch has been the venues they've been playing in. Just a week since playing in front of a sellout crowd at Viejas Arena in front of The Show, Utah State now heads to one of the loudest and most packed arenas in the country: The Pit. The Lobos have only 13 losses since 2007 in their home arena.


Utah State is used to claiming conference dominance in homecourt advantage, and for many Aggie fans, they may still. But Morrill said going to the Mountain West has definitely been a step up.

"We got kind of spoiled in the Big West and the WAC," he said. "We'd all kind of puff our chest out and say that our arena and crowd were better than anybody's. In this league, there's a lot of great crowds. With us losing some games our crowd has dropped off a little bit."

Monday, February 24, 2014

So how is Jeremiah Ingram performing?

6-foot-7 Jeremiah Ingram signed with San Jose State University back in November. The Colby (Kansas) Community College frontcourter is his team's leading scorer and rebounder (18.8 points, 9.2 rebounds) and is also tops in blocked shots with 34.

Ingram's has 66 assists to his credit versus 78 turnovers and his shooting accuracy is 44% overall, 27% from beyond the arc and 71% from the foul line.

Going 20-73 from long distance confirms that is not his forte. The Spartans are obviously known for three-point shooting this season but Ingram will not be greenlighted for such next season because it's a waste of his bountiful athleticism and his ability to draw fouls.

Speaking of the latter, Ingram has attempted 227 free throws in 28 contests, a very good 8.1 per contest. With Coach Wojcik's guys -153 in attempts at the charity stripe versus opponents thus far this season, a dramatic change is needed. Winning teams get to the foul line more often and also enjoy having key opposing players in foul trouble and thus playing less time than usual.

Colby finished 9-20 overall, 0-13 in conference play.

This week's MWC team rankings

Robert Gagliardi is out with his weekly Mountain West Conference team rankings.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Entering the gates of hell

The Spartans head down to play San Diego on Tuesday evening and these Aztecs, formerly rated #6 in the nation, are coming off a 58-44 ESPN televised beatdown at the hands and home of New Mexico. The Lobos punctured the vaunted San Diego State defense for a 50% conversion rate in shooting and held The Border Guys to 32%.

Concurrently, MWC Player of the Year candidate Xavier Thames has experienced a shooting slump of late and the guard finished 3-15 in The Pit. He must correct that for the Aztecs to roll.

So you think Steve Fisher's squad, 22-3 overall, 12-2 in Mountain West Conference play, might be looking to blow off some built up frustration?


Here's Juan Reyes/The Spartan Daily on the 75-50 January matchup between these two teams.

Below is our game report post:
You knew it was coming but the arrival time wasn't posted. That being a San Diego State points run. Eventually it arrived -- in the second half -- and that was that as the Aztecs topped San Jose State University 75-50 tonight. Coach Dave Wojcik's squad pulled within five twice but became stuck on 30 points for an interminably long time -- 17:34 to 12:37 -- and that's when the game slipped away.
The score was a tepid 29-19 at the half but that picked up in the second 20 minutes. However, the shooting numbers for both teams were abysmal: 39%, 15% and 64% for the victors, 33%, 26% and 53% for the Spartans. 39-17 was the differential in free throw attempts.

Xavier Thames (the guard out of Sacramento) led the Aztecs with 15 points while Devante Wilson paced the Washington Square crew with 14.

Two other San Diego Staters are from the Sacramento area and that helped bolster attendance to the best anyone could recall at 4,117.

For the second straight game, freshman Rashad Muhammad was negated. It was 1-7 tonight with five points in 21 minutes preceded by 0-7, two points in 26 minutes versus Wyoming.

It was that kind of night: Aztec center Skylar Spencer entered the matchup shooting 8-18 on the season (17 games) concerning free throws. He earned six visits to the charity stripe tonight and sank four of them. Spencer also went 4-4 from the field.

SJSU attempted but 19 threes on the evening.
From our preview of that contest:
The backcourt leader is 6-foot-3 senior Xavier Thames, a senior out of Sacramento and a transfer from Washington State after his sophomore season. He is averaging 17.0 points per game while connecting on 43% of his overall shot attempts and 47% from long distance. 6-foot-8 sophomore Winston Sheppard is at 13.1 points an outing with half his rebounds coming offensively. He has the making of the next star of this group. 6-foot-7 JJ O'Brien scores 9.4 points per contest with 48% overall accuracy. 6-foot-8 Tulane transfer Josh Davis owns the boards at 11.5 each time out and in the middle is 6-foot-10 Skylar Spencer who has swatted away 44 shots.
Their respective roles have been maintained. 


Chris Cunningham will have his hands full offensively with Spencer's defensive prowess and intimidation. Also don't look for Rashad Muhammad to experience many open looks at the basket. SJSU won't back down (Tom Petty's song inserted here) but will be facing an angry opponent looking to re-prove their deserved lofty ranking of yore. The Spartans don't have the firepower at this point to take down the Aztecs but let's see what kind of game they give them.

Win marred by ugly incident

A Geoff Grammer tweet: "Cup thrown after game was by a Lobo fan after the game. UNM got his name. AD Paul Krebs said if he's a season ticket holder, "he's done."

AFTER a win over San Diego State! Just what makes some people think they have a right to express themselves in any manner they choose? Unbelievable.

But then there's this with a caption of: "Here are the Partizan (Belgrade, Serbia) fans across from us, segregated into the corner and surrounded by dozens of policemen"

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's sinking in at Utah State

Kyle Goon covers the giant step Utah State basketball took in joining the Mountain West Conference.

Coach Stew Morrill's task can be boiled down to: get better athletes ASAP.

Ominous headline: "Has the Wolf Pack quit on the season?"

Chris Murray's article begins:
The Wolf Pack basketball team quit in the middle of last season. You don’t have to take my word for it.

Coach David Carter said as much entering this year. The team had a number of players “check out,” as Carter put it, and the year ended with eight straight losses.

After a massive switch in personnel, with four players transferring in the offseason, the Wolf Pack is headed in the same direction again this year. Nevada is riding a five-game skid and has watched a promising start to conference play (the team started 7-2) turn into a nightmare in motion.

The big question now is if this team, like last year’s team, has quit on itself, its coach and its season...
Head here for the remainder.

Ranking the 2013-14 MWC hoops recruiting classes

Hoopniks rates the recruiting classes thus far of the Mountain West Conference members.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

They did it!

The proverbial monkey is off their collective backs. Pundits would have gleefully joined in derision had San Jose State University not won a league game this season but that won't happen now since the Spartans just downed Nevada 66-64 in Reno. That's five consecutive L's for the Coach David Carter's guys.

You may say it's just one win but even at 1-17 (and let's see how the remainder of the contests play out) such will prevent the launching of any number of posts of ridicule. Hell, that derision might just now be directed at the Wolf Pack after tonight.

On dribble-drive penetration with just seconds remaining, Jalen James had his shot blocked by AJ West but the ball came back to James who then shot again and scored what proved to be the winning bucket.

Fellow frosh Isaac Thornton again padded the stat sheet again with a team-leading 15 points, a tops-on-the-team six rebounds plus two assists. Yes, he was called for a foul near the end when Nevada's Cole Huff dribbled into the key although it sure looked like a clean steal of the ball.

This is a Spartan squad that won't quit or back down despite physical, talent and experience limitations. That's a major plus and a credit to the coaching staff and players. But it's worth mentioning that prior to James' re-launch in the paint, the last six shot attempts, minus a tip-in from Jaleel Williams, were all from three-point range. Granted, some were open looks but that's not an offensive diet that aids in the maintenance of a lead -- something SJSU had for the majority of the game.

SJSU led 33-26 at the half.

By the way, said monkey is now on Coach David Carter's back. His team appeared uninspired, had no inside game to speak of and his best talent is soon heading to the NBA. He's a good guy in the profession but but his recruiting classes have been lacking plus the Wolf Pack's new AD isn't the one who hired Carter so there may be trouble on campus in The Biggest Little City in the World.

Here's a game report from Dan Hinxman.

Chris Murray did write this prior to the game: "For the past four years, the Wolf Pack has peaked in the middle of conference play and struggled down the stretch. During those seasons, the Wolf Pack is 21-11 in the first half of league play and 10-17 in the second half of league play. That’s a troubling trend."

A Murray post-game tweet: "Coach Carter hints that he might not travel all of his players to Air Force. He wants guys there who are going to contribute to the team."

Watch Deonte Burton tonight

Here's a professional assessment on Nevada's Deonte Burton by the Draft Express folks -- see if it matches up to what you witness tonight:
Deonte Burton is closing on 2,000 points scored in his college career, which he surprisingly decided to extend with a fourth and final season after an extended debate last year. Burton ranks among the top point guards in this draft class in a variety of categories, but is completely off the national media's radar and looks to be struggling to move the needle on his draft stock playing for a dysfunctional team that sports a mediocre 12-14 record in the Mountain West Conference. Nevertheless, he shows intriguing potential in a number of areas and might end up being a better pro than many thought coming out of college.
Burton has average size at 6-1, but makes up for that and then some with a strong 190 pound frame, a long 6-6 wingspan, and arguably the best athleticism of any point guard in this class, as he sports a lighting quick first step and extremely impressive leaping ability jumping off two feet. Burton is deadly in the three areas NBA teams like to see point guard prospects excel the most at the collegiate level—being highly efficient in the pick and roll, isolation, and transition situations. His terrific first step, strong frame, and extreme aggressiveness allow him to make a living driving to the basket, finishing around the rim and getting to the free throw line, despite playing in what appears to be a highly dysfunctional team situation in terms of system or structure, with seemingly very little talent alongside him. He makes an outrageous 66% of his field goal attempts around the basket in the half-court, second best among top-100 prospects, and gets there at an impressive rate as well.

On paper, Burton is a very streaky shooter, making just 32% of his 3-point attempts on the season after hitting 30% as a junior. Despite his low percentages and unconventional mechanics, digging deeper, we find that he's actually capable of making shots with the best of them, with both his feet set and off the dribble. His 1.6 made 3-pointers per game ranks fourth among point guards in this class—he simply takes far too many outside looks, which may be partially due to the situation he's in.

Burton never leaves the floor for Nevada, he plays more minutes per game than any player in our top-100 prospects ranking, and is responsible for 28% of his team's scoring, more than any point guard in this class.

With that said, it's difficult to ignore the fact that Burton's team has won less than half their games this season, only Olivier Hanlan's Boston College squad can say the same among Top-100 college prospects, and his poor shot-selection and decision making are no small culprits in that. He doesn't do a great job of reading defenses or getting teammates involved, often dribbling with his head down, and badly overestimates his outside shooting ability, jacking up ill-advised looks early in the shot-clock. Burton is much more of a scorer than he is a natural facilitator, something that isn't the end of the world in today's NBA, but is still something he'll have to work on playing alongside better talent in the future. He's never made the NCAA Tournament and only went to the NIT once (in 2012) in his career, which looks unlikely to change this season. The fact that he turns 23 in July also won't help him when he's stacked up against the other top point guard prospects in this draft, as he's 2-3 years older than most of them.
While Nevada ranks just 211th among all college basketball teams in defensive efficiency this season according to KenPom, Burton appears to have good tools on this end of the floor with his solid wingspan, strength and athleticism. His quickness and explosiveness can be easily noted with the way he gets in the passing lanes and the fact that he ranks second among DX Top-100 PGs in blocks, and he should be able to more than hold his own at the pro level once he's not forced to play nearly 40 minutes a game and carry his team offensively.

Chris Murray previews the game

Chris Murray previews the SJSU - Nevada matchup with statistics, the X-factor and three keys needed for a Wolf Pack win.

Monday, February 17, 2014

No runoffs please

There is a lot of current chatter on the Inside Sparta Basketball MB about the pros and cons surrounding running off players who haven't performed well this season.

Each poster is obviously entitled to his/her opinion and to state such (thankfully) but something is missing from the debate thus far: please consider the moral aspect to this practice.

Student athletes have been invited to attend San Jose State University via an athletic scholarship.

They have accepted.

Granted, each awardee is aware that athletic scholarships are issued annually to both holdovers and newcomers and no promise is made for a full four years. Plus, some of those on this particular Spartan team were brought in by the previous coaching administration.

But it was and is an SJSU school representative doing the issuing.

However, we also can't forget that coaches are simply retained or fired based upon wins versus losses -- graduation rates and other such cheap ornamental talking points be damned.

All this is a business.

However, San Jose State University representatives entered the living rooms of these prospects and promised their parents/elders to take care of the kids being wooed. Such a commitment shouldn't be offered lightly.

Yes, coaches do lie. They over-promise. That's the salesman aspect of the job (and, for the record, so do prospects, their families and handlers). Coaches may not even be considering at the time of recruitment that dumping player X will ever need to happen but they should.

As a fan, I would rather endure losses if need be than force out a student athlete whose potential and promise was miscalculated. For the record, this requires absolutely zero nobility in stating such because it isn't my job possibly on the line.

The high road is taken because it's the right thing to do. It's not easy and there's not a lot of company or visceral reward to be found. 

And yes, there are those players who mess up academically and/or socially and have their 'ships pulled. There are some who don't commit to becoming better basketball players. Like with just about everything in life there are exceptions. Just don't do it to those giving their all just because it isn't enough.

Nevada here on Tuesday

Nevada (12-14, 7-6) welcomes San Jose State University in on Tuesday but which Wolf Pack team will appear? The one that beat the Spartans earlier or the squad currently on a four game losing streak? (Utah State on the road 83-75, San Diego State on the road 73-58, 75-67 in Reno versus Fresno State and 90-72 in the Pit against New Mexico)

On January 1, Coach David Carter's guys took a 62-50 win at Walt McPherson Court. The game writeup:
When you are playing a jumpshot-centric, four-out offense, the ball needs to be entering the cylinder at a decent rate in order to emerge victorious. That didn't happen for the Spartans tonight (35% shooting) as visiting Nevada nabbed a 12 point victory, 62-50, via a strong second 20 minutes (37-24).
But it wasn't as if the Wolf Pack were all that zeroed in with their own shooting, as 1-12 from long distance exemplifies.

However, Nevada newcomer in the middle, AJ West, got thisclose to a double-double with 15 points (6-8 shooting) plus nine boards and a pair of rejections. That is double his points per game average coming into this matchup. West was known primarily as a shotblocker coming in -- 10.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and a nations best 5.1 blocks per outing at Monroe Community College as a sophomore -- so this was an unexpected offensive performance.

Star backcourter Deonte Burton led the Reno-ites with 18 points (coming in averaging 22.5) as he and West were the only Nevadans in double figures. The second-leading scorer on the Wolf Pack roster at 15.3 points a contest, Jerry Evans, scored just eight (3-11 shooting).

6-foot-7 Cole Huff rebounded particularly well, finishing with 10 as Coach David Carter's squad won the rebounding battle 37-30, 13 offensively, this despite a lack of depth on the frontline.

Devante Wilson was the main scorer for SJSU, concluding with a very efficient 18 points (4-7 from three-point range) plus five rebounds. The Wolf Pack defended Rashad Muhammad quite well, limiting him to five points on five shots in 33 minutes.
At this pont, Deonte Burton has upped his points per game average to 20.1. 6-foot-7 Cole Huff has enjoyed some very solid games of late -- a high of 31 aided by six treys versus Fresno State -- and sits at 12.0 points an outing while 6-foot-8 Jerry Evans is contributing 13.2 as well as 6.2 rebounds each night. Shooting guard Michael Perez is the fourth double-figures scorer at 11.6 per contest.

Frontcourter A.J. West ranks as the top boardman at 7.6 but his 7.5 points a game is sustained primarily on putbacks and the like. Do credit him for 40 blocked shots in 15 games though.

One idea is try and force Nevada to shoot more treys than Coach Carter wishes as Burton is at 32% and Perez 34% in that endeavor.

Chris Cunningham has been playing better of late for SJSU but West's defensive play will be a major challenge. To his credit, Cunningham did post a 10 point, eight rebound line against West on New Year's Day.

If Rashad Muhammad's ankle and the effects of a concussion on Jalen James haven't improved, then it will be trouble depth-wise as the former played 33 minutes and the latter 26 in the earlier matchup. While it's true that neither came away with impressive numbers that night, spreading those minutes out among teammates may produce greater levels of fatigue, especially defensively, to those able to go.

Robert Kuwada's looks back at MWC action last week

Robert Kuwada serves up his weekly Mountain West Conference basketball look.

Remember Bobby Godinez in football?

Bobby Godinez is the first year head coach at Victor Valley basketball. Long a roundball doormat, Godinez has his team at 4-4 in conference play, 14-11 overall.

Here is his VVC bio:
Godinez, 31, brings his 8 years of coaching experience to the basketball courts for the first time.  After playing both football and basketball at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, he exceled at San Jose State University as a defensive back in the early 2000's, earning Academic All-American honors as well as All-Conference honors.  Godinez also signed a Free Agent contract with the Washington Redskins after graduating with his Bachelors in Sociology.  He later returned to San Jose State to earn his Master’s Degree in Kinesiology in 2006.  With his degrees in hand, he opened his sports performance training facility, Optimal Sports, in his native Hacienda Heights and also Upland, CA where he began assisting high school student athletes in preparation for the physical rigors of college athletics as well as helping them prepare mentally for the challenge of college academics. It was here that he began to understand that coaching any sport was more than the X's and O's, but also engaging young minds, earning their trust, teaching them the importance of self-discipline and to think about their future on and off the field.  “Optimal Sports was about training athletes specifically in their respective sport as well as building strength, speed and most importantly character” Godinez added.  These young athletes were receiving the same type of physical work outs, designed and crafted by Godinez, as Apple Valley's own Jason Vargas and NFL Veteran Shaun Cody, who also were trained personally by Godinez.  After brief stints at both Mt. San Antonio College and Pasadena City College, Godinez coached for 3 seasons at the Division 1 level with Gardner Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina.  Godinez elaborated, “Having the opportunity to be able to coach at the division 1 level was a wonderful experience because it taught me more than just specifics in coaching, but how to relate to all different types of kids in all different walks of life.  I believe it helped me to grow as a coach and mentor and I look forward to sharing everything I’ve learned with these kids.”

MWC team rankings

Robert Gagliardi has posted his MWC team rankings for this week plus his winners/losers of upcoming games.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Two more WYO - SJSU game reports

Robert Gagliardi game reports on Wyoming's takedown of San Jose State University.

Gagliardi also offers some thoughts on the matchup plus video.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wyoming 46, San Jose State University 38

What a strange game. Actually make that half.

The best of times warped into the worst as the Spartans owned a three-point lead over Wyoming after the initial 20 minutes, 29-26.

But the court must have been infected with malware in the second half as SJSU totaled just nine points to 20 for the Cowboys and slogged to a 46-38 loss.

Freshman guard Isaac Thornton, who is turning out to be a gamer offering a variety of contributions, finished with 14 points while Chris Cunningham posted a 10/11 double-double.

Two other personnel notes: Dylan Alexander started and played 28 minutes while Rashad Muhammad received four minutes of time.

Wyoming's best player, Larry Nance, was limited to seven shot attempts and six points although he tied for the lead in rebounds with nine. It was time for guard Riley Grabau to shine as he imprinted 18 points and nine boards on the contest.

The Cowboys shot 40% for the game to 28% overall for the Spartans. The latter went 6-25 from beyond the arc but a perfect if paltry 6-6 at the charity stripe. SJSU won the boards battle 33-28 but had four steals to Wyoming's 10.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Spartan basketball Q-and-A

Robert Gagliardi/Cowboy Chronicles has posted a Q-and-A with Jimmy Durkin of the Mercury News about SJSU hoops.

It's Wyoming here on Saturday

Wyoming comes to town Saturday afternoon (2:00 p.m.) @ Walt McPherson Court and this is a team fresh off a 68-62 upset of San Diego State last Tuesday.

From Cowboy athletics:
Wyoming held SDSU to its third-lowest point total this season and is now one of only two schools (Wichita State) in the nation to not allow 75 points this season. For the season, Wyoming's 49 percent from the field leads the Mountain West and ranks 13th in the nation, while its 38 percent from deep is third and 65.9 points per game are 10th. UW's 73 percent at the free throw line is third. Defensively, the Cowboys rank second in the MW and 14th in the NCAA in scoring defense at 60.5 points per game and fourth in the league in field goal percentage defense at 40 percent. UW's 31 percent three-point defense is third in the conference and 51st in the nation.
Plus this:
Junior guard Riley Grabau and junior forward Larry Nance Jr. paced Wyoming in its upset of San Diego State. Grabau notched 17 points and four assists and has now his 17 threes over the last five games to average 11.3 points and 2.1 assists. He is shooting 92 percent at the free throw line and has made 35-straight attempts. Nance added 14 points, six rebounds and three blocks. He leads the Pokes at 15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1.4 steals per game, while ranking 11th in the MW in points and fifth in rebounds. His 54 percent from the field is second. Sophomore guard Josh Adams and senior guard Nathan Sobey have gotten to the rim during MW play. Adams averages 11.6 points and a team-high 2.9 assists, while Sobey contributes 7.5 points and 2.8 rebounds. Junior forward Derek Cooke Jr.'s 5.6 rebounds are second on the team and he adds 5.4 points per contest. 
Here's our game report from the January 18 last meeting between these two teams:

The sense all along was that Wyoming was going to win this game and that became the reality with the final score of 67-56 but San Jose State University left another fine impression in its initial Mountain West Conference go-around.

This time it was D.J. Brown's turn to lead and he finished with 18 points, including 4-8 from long distance. Frontcourter Chris Cunningham finished with 10 points and six boards and Devante Wilson totaled 13 points. Rashad Muhammad didn't connect from the floor and finished with two points as SJSU shot 37% overall and garnered just four points from the Spartan bench.

It was a case of too much Larry Nance Jr. (how did they get him to come out of Ohio to Laramie?) as he concluded with 18 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots in 40 minutes of court time. Second-leading Cowboy scorer Riley Grabau missed each of his six three-point attempts but it was fellow guard Josh Adams stepping up and springing for 16 points plus seven assists (just one turnover). he had been close to 50/50 in assists-to-turnovers entering the matchup.

Wyoming doubled up the Spartans in the paint, scoring 34 points to 16 and posted a shutout with fastbreak scoring at 14-0.

This was another learning opportunity as Coach Larry Shyatt's guy played very physical. The Spartan youth know they must get bigger and stronger in order to turn around these final scores in MWC play. 

Gotta go with the Cowboys on this one  -- just a too tough physical and mental opponent. Wyoming might let down a bit after topping San Diego State but this is a coaching staff that will nip any lackadaisical play early on. That and the Spartans don't have a good matchup for Larry Nance.

SJSU offer Reyes

Alex Kline/The Recruit Scoop tweeted: "San Jose State has offered 2014 North Broward (FL) forward Sammis Reyes."

A member of the Chilean National Basketball U17 Team, Reyes is 6-foot-6, 240 and holding offers from Tulane, Fordham, Citadel and Buffalo according to 247 Sports. Another site also included Miami, BYU and Hawaii.

A quote: "Sammis Reyes 6'6" (North Broward Prep, Florida) is a thick bodied athletically gifted forward. Looks like a football player running on the court with massive shoulders. Has a ready body. Does a good job of using his lower half to get post position as well as position for rebounds. Biggest strength to Reyes' game is that he stays very low which helps him defend smaller players as well. Keeps the ball high on rebounds and does a good job defending the weak side as well. Still a bit raw on offense but he is so athletically gifted it's hard not to wonder how far he could take his game. Didn't really get many touches in the post but did a nice job of getting position just about every time."

Kline himself wrote on December 23 of last year:
...Reyes appears to be a strong finisher around the rim with good post moves. He is bouncy around the basket on both the offensive and defensive end. He also looks to have a high-IQ based on his passing ability and ability to find open teammates. His handle is pretty solid for a combo forward, but schools willing to take a look at him at on all levels could be getting a very talented player with plenty of potential. Multiple scouts and college coaches who have seen him before have verified that Reyes is potentially a mid-major plus to high-major player.

As his shot and handle are still being worked on, Reyes has been trying to improve in those areas. His footwork, strength and athleticism are probably the three best parts of his game, as well as his passing and defensive abilities based on his jumping and timing ability...
Below is an 11+ minute video posted in February 2013:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Spartans fall by three

This one came down to the final shot but it unfortunately was blocked and Air Force got by San Jose State University 51-48 tonight at Walt McPherson Court.

It was an evening when Tre' Conklin, Air Force's leading scorer, fired errantly (1-12) but the starting guards for SJSU combined to shoot 4-23. Conklin totaled 27 points in the earlier pairing of these two teams on January 15.

Devante Wilson led the Spartans with 15 points and Chris Cunningham compiled a 13/11 double-double although he also committed five turnovers. His 6-10 shooting was sharp and it was his most number of attempts in some time.

Coach Wojcik's guys finished with 18 official errors to 13 for the Falcons. It was the other way around back in January at 23 turnovers for AF to SJSU's 16.

Jimmy Durkin live-tweeted the matchup and here is his game report.

Here are a number of game photos.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Gustys offered by Tulane and Hostra

From The Recruit Scoop: "Tulane & Hofstra have offered 2014 PF Rokas Gustys of Oak Hill (VA)."

He's the young man who would be a starter from Day One at SJSU based on his rebounding and willingness to bang around opponents.

Rick Lewis talked with Gustys after the senior's trip to Rhode Island. RI also needs a big, there is already a Lithuanian on the roster there and Coach Danny Hurley is a formidable recruiting opponent. SJSU receives a mention in the article.

More on Fisher and the Aztec basketball program

It has already been read by many at this point but here's a link to Myron Medcalf's feature on what Steve Fisher has achieved at San Diego State, with some information on the pre-Fisher state of the program. This section stood out:
...He hit the streets and became an evangelist for SDSU hoops.

"I spoke at 79 different events my first 365 days," Fisher says. "Kept count of them. From small little coffee groups of 15 or 20 to the national rotary group in downtown San Diego, 400 [people], and everything in between to spread the word about San Diego State basketball."

He made promises of a bright future that his team's five-win season in his first year failed to back. So the stands were still empty in those early years.

"You'd come here and you'd be able to count the number of fans here on your hand," said Brian Dutcher, an assistant on Fisher's staffs at Michigan and San Diego State. "There'd be 100, 200, 500 fans, maybe. So it was tough, it was kind of a dead environment."

That's significant if you're going to understand the length of Fisher's ride. Banners for SDSU's six NCAA tourney appearances now jut from the ceiling at Viejas Arena. The Aztecs, who will play at Wyoming on ESPNU at 11 p.m. ET, have won 20 or more games for nine consecutive seasons (including this one) and they've won seven Mountain West titles since his arrival. The team's vibrant fans -- "The Show" -- are nationally recognized for their fervor...
Call me crazy (that's mild compared to other epithets tossed in my direction) but I still believe San Jose State University basketball can become what San Diego State now is.

As perennial fans, we have (to steal a line from the late Dave Carter), been "beat down, misdirected, cropped short and sized to fit" for soooooooo long yet haven't surrendered. That maintenance -- without sustenance -- is a miracle in itself.

We want a second supernatural occurrence -- a successful team and program. The fans deserve it for maintaining allegiance after such a lengthy barren existence, one full of hope but also with the deep down knowing that nothing was going to really change.

Let us hope the present administration is as serious about funding and supporting men's basketball as it currently appears. Let's hope it goes further.

Let us hope Coach Wojcik does 80 events in his first 365 days.

UN:V lands a prime recruit

Now they certainly aren't all going to be like this particular signing/commitment but check out the headline of UNLV's latest hoops commit: "Top recruit Rashad Vaughn chooses UNLV over Iowa State"

Here's a snippet from the article:
...At UNLV, Vaughn will make an immediate impact. Rice needed a perimeter scorer for next season, a player who can consistently knock down jumpers from the perimeter. Vaughn joins one of the top recruiting classes in the country (now ranked No. 5 at 247Sports), a group that also includes five-star forward Dwayne Morgan and top-25 prospect Goodluck Okonoboh. Morgan has NBA potential given his athleticism and ability at both ends of the floor, while Okonoboh is arguably the best shot-blocker in the country. Moreoever, the Runnin' Rebels will also return starters Roscoe Smith and Khem Birch on the inside, as well as point guard Deville Smith, talented pick-and-pop forward Christian Wood, and others. If all the pieces fit, UNLV will have as much talent as nearly anyone in the country -- especially up front. And now Vaughn gives them an elite-level scorer on the wing...
This is the level SJSU is going up against on the floor.

Yes, grittiness and hard work are necessary components in order to succeed. But there also must be an upgrade in the potential level of the signees coming aboard at San Jose State University. The lack of success this season and earlier will obviously be used against the Spartans by the other coaches, that's a fact. It's an unenviable task for Coach Wojcik and Company but some how, some way that must be overcome.

Jeremiah Ingram is a good start. A center or power forward who is ready to contribute right away is a must for next season or the building plan will need to be stretched out.

This week's MWC team rankings

Robert Gagliardi offers his Mountain West Conference team rankings for this week.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Air Force flies in Wednesday

The Falcons arrive on Wednesday

This is a team that SJSU led at halftime in the pairing on January 15. But Air Force came back and won 77-62. Guard Tre' Coggins led with 27 points and 6-foot-9 Marek Olesinski finished with 19 points, with both shooting 5-8 from long distance. The Falcons also won the rebounding battle 34-21 and shot 57%, 46% and 79% respectively. However, they did commit 23 turnovers.

Since that meeting, AF has stumbled.

There was a loss at Colorado State, then Wyoming at home, losses on the road to Boise State and then Nevada and two more defeats against Fresno State and Colorado State at home.

The sophomore Coggins missed the BSU, Nevada, and BSU games due to a suspension (apparently for academic issues) but he is back in his old role of leading scorer with a 17.5 points per game average.

6-foot-4 junior Max Yon is next at 13.2 followed by 6-foot-9 junior Marik Olesinski with 12.5 point each time out. The latter is also grabbing a third-on-the-team 5.4 rebounds per contest.

6-foot-4 Kamryn Williams brings 10.3 points nightly alongside a team-leading 6.1 rebounds (yes, at 6-foot-4!) and 6-foot-6 Justin Hammonds is at 8.9 points a contest and 5.7 caroms.

A total of ten Falcon players average double figures in playing time.

Air Force plays the so-called Princeton style of offense, with a lot of movement and backdoor cuts away from the ball. This is a team that doesn't fire up shots early in the count, preferring great patience in waiting for and seizing advantage of defensive lapses.

Simultaneously, opponents have difficulty playing 30 or so seconds of defense each possession and any slipups are usually recognized quickly and seized upon. That does not bode well for a very youthful Spartan squad.

The game will be a tough one for guys wanting to get up and down the floor. Call the key how well the Spartans defend this unique style.

Frank Rogers

Sometimes (including moi) people forget that 6-foot-8 Frank Rogers is sitting out this season at SJSU as a transfer from USF. He is going to help on the frontline next season but will he be a difference maker?

That question is raised because the Cabrillo College and USF versions of Rogers were not of the physical, brawny variety. He wasn't one who let opponents know he was in the game whenever a foray into or through the paint took place.

The opportunity for playing time will be there -- the key is will that court time be earned or will it be because there's not much else to choose from?

Maybe his year away from the court has brought changes to his game.

Matt Stephens' MWC breaktrhrough talents

Matt L. Stephens offers up his best breakthrough guys for this season in the Mountain West Conference. Alas, no Spartans.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

It's another bruising

Fresno State wasted no time in putting a hurt on the Spartans and ended up leading 50-29 after the initial 20 minutes. The final score was 82-56. For FSU, former St. Francis High guard Tyler Johnson went for 15 points, 10 rebounds and a quartet of assists. Fellow backcourter Cezar Guerrero, who entered the matchup averaging 13.8 points on 41% and 37% shooting finished with 23, going 8-13 overall and 5-9 from beyond the arc.

In what is now becoming a bit of a broken record, the Bulldogs shot 49% for the game, the Spartans 30%.

Rashad Muhammad paced the Spartans with 11 points plus be garnered six rebounds.

Robert Kuwada game reports and provides photos plus video.

Next up is Air Force coming into the Events Center on Wednesday.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Down in Fresno on Saturday afternoon

It's Fresno State on Saturday afternoon (remember when this was THE rivalry?) down in the San Joaquin.

The Bulldogs are 10-13 overall, 3-7 in conference play and, to some unmeasurable degree, that record can laid at the missing bodies of Robert Upshaw and Braden Anderson.

No, there isn't anything macabre about the preceding sentence so let's explain.

The former is now on the roster at Washington after a tumultous freshman season of suspensions and his 6-foot-10, 240 frame is missed. His late departure didn't allow time for a replacement recruit. The 6-foot-9 Anderson suffered season-missing injuries in an auto accident early this school year so Coach Rodney Terry has been forced to play small ball.

Senior guard Tyler Johnson stands just 6-foot-4 but he is not only the leader scorer for Fresno State (15.9) but tops in rebounding too (7.2). Also second in assists as he has staked out a mighty impressive claim for all-conference honors.

Another backcourter, 6-foot-4 sophomore Marvelle Harris is playing the Avis role -- second in scoring (14.6) and boardplay 6(5.3) but he is rather streaky. When on, he's near unstoppable but he still endures periods of disappeances.

A third guard, 5-foot-11 sophomore Cezar Guerrero checks in third in scoring (13.8) plus is the team assist leader with 95.

6-foot-7 freshman wing Paul Watson boasts of 10.1 points plus 4.8 boards per game

The nominal big for the the Bulldogs is 6-foot-9, 205 junior Alex Davis and he provides 5.5 points plus 4.4 rebounds an outing but leads in blocked shots with 36.

These are the primary players at Terry's disposal, who is under some degree of heat for not turning matters around.

After a five game in-conference losing streak, the Bulldogs took down Wyoming at home 67-62 and then went to Colorado Springs and beat Air Force 68-51. 

Despite the lack of size, FSU is being out-rebounded by a small figure, 35.3 to 37.8 for opponents.

This certainly is a matchup-able team for the Spartans but also one that possesses a greater degree of experience. It will be tough to win if Fresno State is allowed to get into a flow so San Jose State University's singular goal is not to allow any point runs nad make the Bulldogs have to grind it out. Such is the best chance for success.

Here's another game preview.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

An offer out to a 2016 point

Via Verbal Commits: "2016 Immanuel (CA) G Colin Slater has received an offer from San Jose State"

Here's a recent article.

Here's a 2011 article.

Below is a 2013 video:

Below is a 2012 video:

New offer to a 2014 guard

A PoP tweet: "San Jose St. Head Coach Dave Wojcik offers '14 PG Noah Robotham: Bishop Gorman"

Robotham is a 5-foot-10 point out of Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas and he plays alongside two of the top-rated 2015 bigs in the country, guys who will be choosing from among the creme de la creme of college basketball programs.

Here is a recent Robotham feature.

Bishop Gorman is also Rashad Muhammad's alma mater.

Another recent tweet from PoP: "Can't say enough about Coach Chris Brazelton who went with his IQ and not the rankings and offered Rashad Muhammad at Drake & San Jose St."

Check out the Robotham videos below:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Kuwada looking at the SJSU's inability to get a lead

Robert Kuwada is out with his weekly take at Mountain West Conference basketball with a predominate emphasis on San Jose State University.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hitting the wall

So have the Spartans hit the not always proverbial wall?


The roster contains a majority of newcomers and freshman who aren't used to the length of nor experienced in the effort required to fulfill a college season of hoops and right now there isn't a lot of zip being displayed. The absorption rate of hoops knowledge and speed of learning through experience varies among players and it's looking like the majority of the Spartans are on overload at the moment.

That and their overall size, skill and athleticism levels need a mighty swing upward. 

What worked to some degree for the players in non-conference play (although the level of competition was definitely lower) needs a countermove as defenses tighten up in order to keep opponents from their respective sweet spots. Home crowds also fire up come league action making matters inhospitable.

Let's see how the frustration is handled.

SJSU after a Lithuanian big

So it's been posted that SJSU has an offer out to an actual big, one Rokas Gustys, listed at 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds. Pencil him in at 6-foot-8 for now as we call it the high school or college inch that disappears once a player is measured say at an NBA pre-draft event.

The Lithuanian owns offers from from URI, San Jose State, Georgia, UAB, Charlotte, Rutgers, Old Dominion, interest from Pittsburgh, Auburn, Boston College and Indiana so there is at least a chance of landing him.

Rhode Island is having him in for a visit next weekend. Indiana signed one of his teammates.

An excerpt from a recent article:
...Physically, Gustys looked like he could defend and rebound at the Big Ten level, but his offensive ability looked like a work in progress.

Gustys' strength was impressive. He looked like he could play in the Big Ten today. He said he currently bench presses 290 pounds and wants to get that to 310 by the end of the season...
One other tidbit: "Gustys is what Oak Hill coach Steve Smith calls "a workout freak."

He is in his second year at Oak Hill Academy,

Gustys definitely an inside the paint player, not yet an offensive threat and is lacking a touch from the foul line. One report indicated some distance shooting prowess but...However, guards will love the picks he sets -- his guards that is.

Phenom Hoops Reports offers a series of evaluations.

Here is some video.

Here is the young man's Twitter account.

Below is the young man talking about coming to this country:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

New Mexico takes down SJSU

It was in The Pit and there was no escaping New Mexico's pendulum as San Jose State University's chances faded early in the second half of a 72-47 loss. 

Lobo big Alex Kirk did play, finishing with 13 points and four rebounds. Cam Bairstow led the home squad with 14 points and he also grabbed seven rebounds. Coach Craig Neal's crew won the battle of the boards 40 (11/29) to 26 (2/24), got 36 points from its bench brigade and managed 20 assists on 27 baskets, shooting 47% on 58 attempts.

For the Spartans, Rashad Muhammad ended the night with 15 points while Jalen James totaled 11 points plus a team-leading seven boards. SJSU was credited with a remarkable 13 assists on 15 makes but put up just 44 shots and finished with 34% accuracy. A paltry two offensive rebounds just doesn't work as part of a winning formula.

Geoff Grammer game reports.

Not what you want your program to display

Matters got a little chippy at the Coloado State - San Diego State game and one element involved Coach Larry Eustachy and one of his players tonight:

From Matt L. Stephens:
...Huddles overflowed with emotion, young players were forced to take new roles, and Colorado State University guard Daniel Bejarano had to be restrained during a disagreement with coach Larry Eustachy. A CSU fan was even ejected from the game, holding up Rams horns with his hands to the crowd of 12,414 as police escorted him out of the building...

...Bejarano — who entered the game as the Mountain West’s second-leading scorer— started for CSU (12-10, 3-6 MW) on Saturday, but was substituted for Cohn, a freshman, less than 3 minutes into the contest. At the ensuing media timeout, he and Eustachy had a verbal altercation and Bejarano wouldn’t play the rest of the game...
From Aztec Hoop Scoop: "Looked like Eustachy said something to Bejarano that involved the F word and it turns out that Bejarano didn't like it"

Video from Jeremy Ramer:

Saturday, February 1, 2014