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 7 p.m. MT Wednesday at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.
San Jose State remains in last place in the Mountain West, but it appears significant progress is being made in the rebuilding of the program. Would you agree or disagree with that, and what has been the most significant improvements?
Progress has definitely been made. The squad can play competitively with the lower half of the conference teams but just not for a full 40 minutes. The freshman starters, Ryan Welage, Cody Schwartz and Jaycee Hillsman, along with Brandon Clarke have demonstrated Mountain West talent in flashes. Various additions to them, such as greater weight and strength, experience and the honing of current skills, along with some more players, will get the Spartans on a much more equal footing with anyone in league.
What still needs to happen for the Spartans to be a consistent competitor in the conference?
Foremost is the need for a true point guard. The team lacks a talent who can limit turnovers while running the offense, penetrate and either score or pass the ball while also being — at very least — an average defender. Whether it is Hillsman stepping up or not, a consistent shooting scoring guard is a must. Plus, a replacement of sorts in the frontcourt for Frank Rogers is required. The youngsters must return with better bodies and improved skill sets.
Who have been the most consistent players for the Spartans, and who has played better than anticipated?
It sounds like a cheap shot but consistent play has evaded each member of the Spartans. As for the second question, Clarke first comes to mind. His energy and athleticism have produced greater scoring than expected plus his rebounding and shot blocking have been very positive factors. Welage has enjoyed some high-scoring games despite a painfully thin frame.
San Jose State beat Wyoming earlier this season in San Jose. What were some of the biggest factors in that win and what will be the keys in Wednesday’s game in Laramie?
It’s probably incorrect to state that Josh Adams was held to 10 points but that’s what he finished with and he also committed six turnovers. A replication of this is not expected. Neither is Jason McManamen shooting 5 of 15 overall. Wyoming shot 35 percent and allowed 46 percent and was outrebounded by 19. Coach Larry Shyatt will not allow a Wyoming version of “Groundhog Day” to make an appearance. San Jose State coach Dave Wojcik’s guys are that box of chocolates from “Forrest Gump” in that you never know what you are going to get but, in this case, it isn’t always sweet.
How do you see Wednesday’s game playing out, and who wins?
I have to go with Wyoming. San Jose State seems a bit tired at this point. It’s been a long season for the freshman, and playing at elevation won’t help the fatigue factor. Also, the Spartans still haven’t demonstrated the ability to stymie point explosions by opponents — the ripping off of eight, 10, 12 or more consecutive points. San Jose State doesn’t have the firepower to catch up to that.
Cowboys game day
Game: San Jose State (8-20 overall, 3-13 Mountain West) at Wyoming (13-17, 6-11)
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Arena-Auditorium, Laramie
TV: MW Network — online
Radio: KFBC (1240 AM) Cheyenne; KCGY (96.1 FM) Laramie
Tickets: UW Athletics Ticket Office, 877-996-3261 or gowyo.com