WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Jimmy Durkin, who covers San Jose State men’s basketball for the San Jose Mercury-News about Saturday’s game with the University of Wyoming. Tip-off is at 2 p.m. at the Arena-Auditorium.
Follow on Twitter: @Jimmy_Durkin
Even though San Jose State is 6-11 overall and 0-5 in the Mountain West, what have been some of the positives with this team in coach Dave Wojcik’s first season?
The team has been competitive, a lot more competitive than most people thought they would be. They’ve been right there in games with Nevada, Colorado State and New Mexico and were close most of the way with Utah State. The Air Force game was close midway through the second half, also. There wasn’t an expectation for many (or maybe even any) wins in the first season in the Mountain West, but the young team is showing signs it may be competitive in the next couple of years.
The Spartans have a pair of talented freshman guards in Rashad Muhammad and Jalen James. How good are these two and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
Muhammad is a great scorer, particularly a great 3-point shooter. He’s not afraid to fire away and has been knocking them down. At 46.6 percent — and with the quantity of shots he takes from beyond the arc — he’s showing to be an elite outside shooter at this level. At less than one assist per game, it’s probably be nice to see him develop as a distributor. James is a very good all-around player. He’s not the scorer that Muhammad is, but he can grab assists and rebounds and should turn into a nice leader.
San Jose State entered the week leading the MW in 3-pointers attempted and made. Is this by design or based on its personnel at this time?
The outside shooting is its strength so that’s what they are going with right now. The fact that Wojcik found this much talent in a short period is pretty remarkable, so I think he’s playing to their strengths right now and it should be interesting to see how they adjust as he brings in more talent because recruiting seems to be a strong suit for him.
The Spartans forced 23 turnovers in their loss at Air Force Wednesday. Has that been a strength of this team?
Not particularly. San Jose State is almost minus-3 is turnovers per game, forcing 10.4 per contest. So that 23 was double the Spartans’ season average and 10 more than the most they had previously forced in any game. That was probably an anomaly, but one the team would like to turn into a trend.
How do you see Saturday’s game at Wyoming unfolding?
The way the MW season has gone for SJSU, I think it’s a fair bet the game will be competitive through at least the first half. The Spartans led at the half against Air Force, Colorado State and Nevada and trailed by just three against New Mexico and one against Utah State. The second half, and particularly the last 5-10 minutes of the game, is where things have gone awry — not particularly surprising for a young team learning how to win. I’d venture this game plays out fairly similarly, with Wyoming pulling out the win. But if Muhammad gets really hot, SJSU could have a chance.