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 3 p.m. game with the University of Wyoming at The Events Center in San Jose, Calif.
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As the only winless team in conference play and on a 12-game losing streak, how have the Spartans held up mentally and even physically during this time?
It’s starting to weigh on them, no doubt. Coach Dave Wojcik even said after the close loss to Air Force that the team is struggling mentally. The combination of their youth and the losses is adding up. The only hope now is that they are learning from the experience.
The Spartans have had some close games at home in MW play with New Mexico, Colorado State and Air Force. What do they do well when games like that are close?
They shoot. It’s really as simple as that. They don’t have much of an inside presence, other than Chris Cunningham. So any offense usually comes from outside shooting. The games in which they are hot, they have a chance.
Wyoming held San Jose State to 37 percent shooting from the field and 31 percent from 3-point range in the first game. What did the Cowboys do well and how do you think San Jose State will counter that Saturday?
Wyoming did a good job of forcing SJSU outside, with more than half of their shots coming from beyond the 3-point arc. I’d imagine the Spartans make more of an effort to get the ball inside and find a way to attempt higher percentage shots.
Freshman guard Rashad Muhammad was 0 of 7 from the field last time against Wyoming. His college choice came down between San Jose State and Wyoming, so do you think he will be extra motivated to play well Saturday?
I wouldn’t necessarily expect more motivation. If anything, he’d probably be more motivated against teams that didn’t recruit him, such as hometown UNLV. He’s been up and down overall for the last few weeks so SJSU will hope to catch him on a good day.
What are some of the key match-ups in Saturday’s game and how do you see this game unfolding?
I think the biggest matchup for SJSU will be to get Cunningham involved inside. That’ll hopefully allow for a few easier buckets and then open up better shots for shooters like Muhammad, Devante Wilson and Jaleel Williams. It’s hard to say how this team will fare the rest of the way. A lot of the thinking was that Wednesday’s game vs. Air Force was the best chance to win a Mountain West game this season. With that now past them, I’m curious to see if they can get it together to against a Wyoming team coming off such a big win. It doesn’t sound like a formula for their first MW win.