UW-San Jose State men’s hoops: 3 keys, notes, quotes and video

My three keys for Wyoming men’s basketball today against San Jose State, which starts at 4 p.m. MT at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

1. Get a win: Plain and simple, isn’t it? Yes, the team has struggled big-time without senior forward Larry Nance Jr. (mononucleosis). But it isn’t like this team has not dealt

Larry Shyatt

Larry Shyatt

with such adversity. It did last season when Nance tore the ACL in his right knee, and two years ago when senior guard Luke Martinez was suspended prior to the start of conference play. One player doesn’t need to make up for Nance’s absence (he is listed as day-to-day but likely won’t play today), but everyone has to do their part. UW didn’t win 19 games prior to this by not playing well as a team. Coach Larry Shyatt always talks about being “connected” as a team. The Cowboys haven’t the last two games, but needs to more than ever now. If they do that, they can and will win today.

Here is my video preview of today’s game:


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UW-San Jose State men’s hoops Q&A

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, on Saturday’s game with the University of Wyoming.

The game starts at 4 p.m. MT at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie, and will be televised on Root Sports.

Follow on Twitter: @Jimmy_Durkin

The Spartans continue to struggle with no Mountain West wins and just two victories overall, but have there been any bright spots or reasons to feel optimistic about the program in the future?

Sadly, the biggest bright spots have been the timing of their injuries to point guard Jalen

Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin

James and center Leon Bahner (a 6-foot-11 true freshman from Germany). James was injured in the eighth game and Bahner in practice after the ninth game, so both just barely fit under the guidelines to be eligible for medical redshirts. Assuming they are awarded them, that would be a small bright spot. James is obviously a key player being the point guard and Bahner, when healthy, provides size they sorely need. Bahner’s still pretty new to organized hoops, so getting a redshirt year in was always probably wise, they just didn’t have enough depth to do it.

But looking to next year, getting those guys back, along with really everybody except senior Jaleel Williams, should make them more competitive and definitely more experienced. They recruited pretty well, bringing in some more size and length and will add a former Pac-12 player when Utah transfer Princeton Onwas becomes eligible. Hopefully it’s enough to win a couple games.

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UW-San Jose State men’s basketball Q&A

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?

Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin

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.

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UW-San Jose State postgame thoughts

Wyoming men’s basketball coach Larry Shyatt thought Saturday’s game with San Jose State would be tougher for his team than Tuesday’s 68-62 home victory over No. 5 San Diego State.

Would the Cowboys come out with the same focus and intensity?

Would San Jose State — winless in league play — come out with a nothing-to-lose attitude and once it got some momentum — play well and perhaps win on its home floor?

There were some tense moments, but the Cowboys clamped down defensively in the second half and won 46-38 at The Events Center in San Jose, Calif.

There were not a ton of highlights for UW, but here is some footage from the game:


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UW-San Jose St. men’s hoops Q&A

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.

Follow on Twitter: @Jimmy_Durkin

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.

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UW-San Jose State postgame thoughts

Larry Nance Jr. said Wyoming’s 67-56 home win over San Jose State Saturday at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie was the Cowboys best team win so far this season.

I think he is right.

Nance led the way with 18 points, 13 rebounds, five blocked shots (all in the second half). He also had two assists and two steals. Nance was good — very good in fact — but so were others. Coach Larry Shyatt described Nance as an “octopus” with the way he played — especially in the second half.

Here are some highlights from the game:

Sophomore guard Josh Adams had 16 points and a career-high seven assists. Better yet, Adams had just one turnover after he had seven turnovers at Boise State last Saturday. That was his best assist-to-turnover ration this season. The Cowboys improved to 5-2 this season when Adams leads the team in assists.

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UW-San Jose State — What to Watch

Here is one aspect of today’s Wyoming men’s basketball game with San Jose State to watch — 3-point shooting.

San Jose State wants to shoot 3s. It averages nearly 10 per game and 27 attempts per contest. The Spartans have three players that have made between 28 and 54 3s this season — led by true freshman guard Rashad Muhammad’s 54.

The Spartans made a season-high 15 3s in a game at Utah State on Jan. 4. They also attempted a season-high 40 against James Madison in November. In terms of their season lows, they made only five against Nevada and attempted 19 in three different games.

UW is fourth in the Mountain West in 3-point shooting percentage defense at 30.8 percent. In last Saturday’s 52-50 win at Boise State, the Cowboys allowed the Broncos to make 3 of 17 from long-range and none in the second half.

As for the Cowboys, they are a decent 3-point shooting team at 37.6 percent. Junior guard Riley Grabau entered this week leading the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (51.9). Two other players are shooting better than 40 percent — true freshman guard Trey Washington III (48 percent) and senior guard Jerron Granberry (44.1 percent).

What could have been for UW, Muhammad

When the Wyoming men’s basketball team hosts San Jose State at 2 p.m. Saturday in Laramie, the Cowboys will be familiar with the Spartans’ best player.

Rashad Muhammad

Rashad Muhammad

True freshman guard Rashad Muhammad is a 6-foot-6 guard that leads all Mountain West freshmen in scoring (17 ppg). He also leads his team in shots made, shots taken and free-throw percentage.

Muhammad’s final two choices for college came down to UW and San Jose State. He and his mom  made an official visit to Laramie during the recruiting process.

“It’s pretty cool coming back,” Muhammad said. “I liked it there and my visit was great. Coach Shyatt had me over to his house and I hung out with the team a lot. It was a real good time.”

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UW-San Jose State men’s hoops Q&A

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.

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