Here is my question-and-answer session with Kevin McCarthy, who runs the Spartan Roundball blog that covers San Jose State men’s basketball, about Wednesday’s game with the University of Wyoming.
Tip off is at 8 p.m. MT Wednesday at The Event Center in San Jose, California.
The records might not indicate it at 5-11 overall and 0-4 in the Mountain West, but San Jose State does seem like an improved team. Would you agree with that, and in what areas are they better?
San Jose State is playing Mountain West Conference opponents much closer thus far this season and, with a few differences in foul shooting and last-minute finishes, could possibly be 2-2 or 3-1. As compared to last year, having a full roster in 2015-16 has been a godsend. There is much more depth, the offense isn’t as heavily dependent on three-point attempts and there are a couple of players who can be effective inside the paint.
One thing that stands out with San Jose State is that it is a bigger team overall. How has that size benefitted or even hurt this team this season?
Last year, the Spartans had no inside game and were easy to plan for defensively. Points in the paint remains a game in-game-out work-in-progress, but the top three scorers are 6-foot-9 Frank Rogers, 6-foot-7 Princeton Onwas and 6-foot-9 Ryan Welage. Rogers was suspended last season, Onwas sat out as a redshirt transfer from Utah and Welage is a true freshman. Without this newish size, San Jose State would consistently not be playing any close games in the Mountain West.
Despite the improvement, the Spartans still have only five wins. What are the major shortcomings with this team?
Individual offensive consistency is the primary bugaboo as rarely do two players, let alone three, simultaneously have good performances on any given night. The team lacks a Mountain West level point guard, and the backcourt shooting accuracy from outside is below par. Talents who can create their own shot is another weakness. Defensively, the team is best in a zone but that often brings with it a passive rather than an aggressive mindset. However, the team isn’t capable of playing man-to-man for major periods of time.
What kind of impact has senior guard Princeton Onwas had? The Utah transfer received high praise from coach Dave Wojcik even when sitting out last season.
He is the best athlete by far and the top creator on the team, but probably would be the third offensive option on a good squad due to his limited shooting consistency. His presence is critical because there is nobody else on the team bringing what he does.
What are some of the key match ups you will be following in Wednesday’s game, and how do you see the game playing out?
I don’t know if Onwas, who is San Jose State’s best defender, will be paired with Josh Adams since the Spartans will often be in a zone but, if so, that should be something enjoyable to watch. Welage is playing well of late so look to see who Wyoming matches up with him. Wyoming is much stronger defensively, but runs a deficit on the boards. Can San Jose State get enough offense, and will offensive rebounding play a role in the outcome?
Cowboys game day
Game: Wyoming (9-8 overall, 2-2 Mountain West) at San Jose State (5-11, 0-4)
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: The Event Center, San Jose, California
TV: Mountain West Network (online only)
Radio: KFBC (1240 AM) Cheyenne; KCGY (96.1 FM) Laramie