Cowboys must avoid outside distractions at San Jose State

A small arena where very few fans attend the games.

That sums up San Jose State’s home-court advantage in a nutshell, and what Wyoming faces when it plays there at 8 p.m. MT Wednesday.

Allen Edwards

Allen Edwards

For a minute, let’s take away what the Cowboys will face player-wise in this game. The Spartans’ home arena — The Event Center — is the smallest in the Mountain West at 5,000. Rarely is it half full. It resembles more of a high school gym than one for college basketball.

A couple of years ago when I covered a UW game there, the students were not back in school and the facilities crew didn’t have the heat turned on. It was down-right cold in there.

It’s not like playing in MW arenas like the Pit at New Mexico or Viejas Arena at San Diego State in terms of loud and abundant fans, but it presents a different challenge for many teams.

First-year UW coach Allen Edwards has seen that first-hand as an assistant for the Cowboys the previous five seasons. Wednesday’s game will be his first there as a head coach, and already knows one thing he has to be leery of.

“It’s a quiet gym, and it’s one of those games where you can’t get on (officials) becuase everyone hears you, and the (officials) take it personal when they feel like everyone hears you,” Edwards said.

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UW vs. San Jose State men’s hoops Q&A

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.

Kevin McCarthy

Kevin McCarthy

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.

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Final MW men’s basketball power rankings

Here is my final Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings of the regular season.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com from games played through Sunday, Feb. 28. The MW is 12th in conference RPI, but the league now has three teams ranked in the top 100 after having just two for much of the season.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

1. San Diego State (21-8 overall, 14-2 MW, 58 RPI): An odd and unexpected collapse at home against Boise State that snapped a streak of 164 straight wins for the Aztecs when they led with five minutes left to play. Still the No. 1 team in the league, but perhaps more vulnerable now.

2. Fresno State (20-9 overall, 11-5 MW, 84 RPI): In second place alone in the conference, and has won eight of its last 10 games. Also has the longest winning streak in the league at four. I wouldn’t want to play this team in the MW Tournament, and the Bulldogs also are getting healthier from a physical aspect.

3. Boise State (19-10 overall, 10-6 MW, 82 RPI): An impressive come-from-behind  road win at Boise State without its best player, junior forward James Webb III, due a knee injury. Also made a big jump in the RPI after it was hovering around 100 last week.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings

Here are my Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings this week.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com from games played through Sunday, Feb. 21. The MW is 11th in conference RPI. Three MW teams are ranked in top 100 in the RPI, and seven are ranked between 112 and 200 out of 351 Division I teams.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

1. San Diego State (20-7 overall, 13-1 MW, 50 RPI): Just one game for the Aztecs this past week, which may have been a good thing as it makes a push toward the postseason.  An interesting week ahead with games at Wyoming and at home against Boise State.

2. Fresno State (18-9, 9-5, 94 RPI): In a tie for second place in the MW, and the team that made the biggest jump in this week’s power rankings. A game at New Mexico Saturday will tell a lot about the Bulldogs this week, but they are a team that can win the MW Tournament.

3. New Mexico (16-11, 9-5, 116 RPI): An impressive come-from-behind  home win over Boise State was followed up by a disappointing road loss at Air Force. Fans in Albuquerque are not happy with this team and its coach.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings

Here are my Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings this week.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com from games played through Sunday, Feb. 14. The MW fell from 11th to 12th in the RPI. Two MW teams are ranked in top 100 in the RPI, and seven are ranked between 112 and 172.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

1. San Diego State (19-7 overall, 12-1 MW, 49 RPI): Fresno State ruined the Aztecs’ chance of running the table in the conference, and that loss dropped its RPI from 43 last week to 49. But San Diego State remains atop the rankings for another week.

2. Boise State (17-9, 8-5, 93 RPI): The Broncos move up even though they lost (although statements from the MW two days afterwards confirmed they should have won due a video error) at Colorado State and ran all over Wyoming. The Broncos could be poised to go on a run as the season comes to a close.

3. New Mexico (15-10, 8-4, 118 RPI): A road loss at Utah State dropped the Lobos one spot, but they have a chance to climb back up as they host Boise State Wednesday. There isn’t a better one-two scoring tandem the league as sophomore guard Elijah Brown and junior forward Tim Williams.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings

Here are my Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings this week.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com. The MW moved up from 12th to 11th in conference RPI. Two MW teams are ranked in top 100 in the RPI, and seven are ranked between 112 and 180.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

1. San Diego State (18-6 overall, 11-0 MW, 43 RPI): Another nice week for the Aztecs as they extended their winning streak to 11 games. It’s not always pretty offensively, but this group finds a way to get it done — especially defensively.

2. New Mexico (14-9, 7-3, 112 RPI): The Lobos split their two games last week, including an overtime loss at San Diego State which there is no shame in. They are still playing like the second-best team in the MW.

3. Boise State (16-8, 7-4, 86 RPI): The Broncos escaped with a home win over Utah State and lost at Air Force. Boise State is reeling a bit, but it stays near the top of the power rankings for now.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings

Here are my Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings this week.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com. Only two MW teams have RPIs in the top 100, and seven are ranked between 113 and 196. As a league, the MW still has an RPI of 12 out of 32 conferences. The Summit, Mid-American and Colonial leagues are currently ahead of the MW.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

1. San Diego State (16-6 overall, 9-0 MW, 47 RPI): An impressive week for the Aztecs with road wins over Nevada and UNLV. They have won nine in a row, and they shot less than 30 percent and still won at Nevada. If only this team was consistent on offense.

2. New Mexico (13-8, 6-2, 122 RPI): The Lobos moved into second place in the MW standings, as well to second in this week’s power rankings thanks in large part to their win at Boise State Saturday. We’ve seen a lot of ups and downs from New Mexico, but it has won four in a row.

3. Boise State (15-7, 6-3, 87 RPI): A tough week for a good team after losses at UNLV and at home to New Mexico. This didn’t do the league a lot of good, but the Broncos are still a veteran and solid group. It needs to bounce back Tuesday at home against Utah St.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings

Here are my Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings this week. Figuring out the third through eighth or ninth teams once again was a challenge.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com. Only two MW teams have RPIs in the top 100, and seven are ranked between 112 and 176. As a league, the MW slipped a bit this week with a RPI of 12 out of 32 conferences. It has been at 11 the last few weeks. The Summit, Mid-American and Colonial leagues are currently ahead of the MW.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

1. San Diego State (14-6 overall, 7-0 MW, 64 RPI): The Aztecs remain the only undefeated team in the MW, and have the league’s longest winning streak at seven. The team will be tested this week with two games in the state of Nevada.

2. Boise State (15-5, 6-1, 60 RPI): The Broncos are more like 1A in the rankings, but its three-point home loss to San Diego State on Jan.16 is the difference. They responded well with two double-digit wins this past week.

3. Nevada (12-7, 4-3, 112 RPI): Some thought I was nuts for having UNLV third last week, and many may think the same having the Wolf Pack this high. But remember, these are weekly power rankings, and Nevada earned the jump up with wins over Wyoming and UNLV last week. Do I think Nevada will finish third in the MW? No, but for now it earned the jump up the rankings.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings

Here are my Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings this week, and there are some changes near the top.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com. Only two MW teams have RPIs in the top 100, and eight are ranked between 121-193. As a league, the MW still has a RPI of 11 out of 32 conferences.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

1. San Diego State (12-6 overall, 5-0 MW, 68 RPI): The Aztecs are the only undefeated team in league play after an impressive 56-53 road win at Boise State last Saturday. San Diego State has won seven straight conference road games going back to last season. It is showing why it was picked as the preseason favorite to win the MW.

2. Boise State (13-5, 4-1, 52 RPI): The loss to San Diego State snapped a 17-game home winning streak, and the Broncos were just 1 of 17 from 3-point range. Look for this team to bounce back, but for now, it drops from the top spot in these power rankings.

3. Utah State (10-7, 3-3, 129 RPI): After starting 0-3 in league play, the Aggies responded with two wins last week at home against Air Force and at Colorado State. Senior guard Chris Smith, the MW Player of the Week, averaged 27 points and nine rebounds in the two victories. Stiffer tests await this week with a home game with UNLV and a road game at San Diego State.

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UW at San Jose State men’s hoops Q&A

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.

Kevin McCarthy

Kevin McCarthy

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.

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