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 Mountain West game between the University of Wyoming and San Jose State. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. MT at The Event Center in San Jose.
Follow on Twitter: @Jimmy_Durkin
What is the latest on the suspensions of the four players for San Jose State, which includes the four leading scorers on the team? What did they do and will they be back for the Wyoming game?
There hasn’t been much official word. Coach Dave Wojcik is sticking with calling the length “indefinite.” There are indications that Rashad Muhammad and Jaleel Williams could be back fairly soon (they’ve participated in practices recently), but there hasn’t been any definitive word and Wojcik plans to keep it hush until anybody actually does come back. I’ve heard Wednesday’s game (at Utah State) was likely the last for Andrew Vollert, one of the football players who joined the team after the suspensions. So maybe a couple of guys are back Saturday, but that won’t be known until near game time.
At 2-11 overall, has the season played out a lot like you thought with San Jose State to this point?
No, I wouldn’t say that. I didn’t expect a ton out of this team this year, but thought they’d begin to show some signs of improvement. The Spartans played well in their opener (it was against NAIA Bethesda), and played well for the first 30 minutes against Portland. At that point, I thought a 10 or so win season with a few Mountain West wins was possible. But things started falling apart on the court and then, of course, off the court and it’s looking like it’ll be a really long year.
Who, if anyone, has played well and stepped up for the Spartans this season?
Darryl Gaynor II played well the first two games after the suspensions, scoring 20 and 24 points, respectively. He had a rough night against Utah State, scoring just eight points on 3 of 18 shooting. He’s really the only true scorer remaining on the team and that’s a tough load for a true freshman to have to take on in this situation, but he’s at least getting some good experience.
With no postseason play due to APR issues this season, how tough has it been for coach Dave Wojcik to get this team motivated to play, and how is his rebuilding job going there in your opinion?
I think those issue could definitely be at the root of the problems right now. There’s little urgency and the players aren’t missing out on that much with the suspensions. Of course, they aren’t playing and that’s a punishment, but not the same way it would be if this was a team that had goals in front of them. As for the rebuilding job, it’s too early to even comment. There seems to be an improvement in recruiting and some facility upgrades likely have helped that. But at least right now, the on-court product has gotten worse and this season is seriously in danger of being a two-win season (and neither win they have so far is against a Division I team). Wojcik has been promised plenty of time to turn this around, so there’s no immediate pressure. That’s why he’s taking a hard line with the players because he needs to establish the culture and set the rules, knowing that the record doesn’t really matter yet.
How do you see the game with Wyoming unfolding?
San Jose State will probably stick to its slow down game plan it has used since the suspensions and try to keep the scoring down to a minimum, as well as not exhaust its depleted team. As long as Wyoming hits a reasonable percentage of its shots and the Spartans don’t suddenly turn into the Splash Brothers, the Cowboys should win easily.
Cowboys game day
Game: Wyoming (12-2 overall, 1-0 Mountain West) at San Jose State (2-11, 0-1)
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Event Center, San Jose, California
Radio: KFBC (1240 AM) Cheyenne; KOWB (1290 AM) Laramie