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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Adams firmly stands behind his teammates

On Jan. 4, Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams tweeted out — to paraphrase — that despite what critics have said, he wouldn’t trade his current group of teammates for anything.

Josh Adams

Josh Adams

Adams has been the undisputed leader of the Cowboys this season — on and off the floor. He leads the team in virtually every statistical category, and enters Wednesday’s game at San Jose State fourth in the nation in scoring at 24.8 points per game.

Adams scored a season-low 12 points in UW’s 59-57 home win over UNLV last Saturday. He did a lot of other things well in that game despite shooting 3 of 14 from the field and 1 of 7 from 3-point range. He had a game-high five assists, was 5 of 6 from the free-throw line and added two steals and two blocked shots.

Simply put, the Cowboys don’t win that game without Adams.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings

We enter the third week of conference play, and while there wasn’t a lot of movement among the top teams in my power rankings, there was some among other teams.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com, and nine of the 11 MW teams have RPIs of between 100 and 181. As a league, the MW has an RPI of 11 out of 32 conferences.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

1. Boise State (12-4 overall, 3-0 MW, 49 RPI): The Broncos remain the top dog in the conference. They’ve won nine in a row. Junior forward James Webb III has won back-to-back MW Player of the Week honors, and three this season. Boise State made nearly a 30-point rise in the RPI from last week.

2. San Diego State (10-6, 3-0, 100 RPI): We will see this week if the Aztecs are worthy of being ranked this high with road games at Colorado State and Boise State.

3. New Mexico (10-6, 3-0, 116 RPI): A four-game losing streak prior to league play seems a distant memory after winning three straight to open league play. The defense has improved, which has led to better offense.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings

One week into conference play, and the Mountain West is just as baffling as the nonconference portion of the schedule was.

A decent amount of movement this week, and I would expect more in the coming weeks. But here is how I think the MW ranks this week.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com. Nothing really stands out as far as the RPI goes, but it does indicate that from top to bottom, the MW is a solid league. Its RPI of 11 out of 32 conferences isn’t all that great, and it looks like the MW could be a one-bid league to the NCAA Tournament as of now.

Call it mediocre or poor, but this league isn’t as bad as many national people think.

I still think the league will get at least two teams to the NCAAs, and possibly three if all works out well.

As always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Boise State (10-4 overall, 1-0 MW, 70 RPI): The Broncos have the longest winning streak in the league at seven, and may have the Player of the Year in the MW in junior forward James Webb III. A tricky game awaits at Utah State Tuesday.

2. San Diego State (9-6, 2-0, 81 RPI): The Aztecs played like the Aztecs last week in a home win over Wyoming and an impressive road win at Utah State last week. The offense is still an issue, but the defense is not.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings and picks

Here are my Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings heading into the final week of the regular season, along with predictions on this week’s games.

As always, I would love to hear your feedback/opinions.

1. Boise State (22-7 overall, 12-4 Mountain West): Completed a regular-season sweep of San Diego State with a road win Saturday. The Broncos have won 13 of their last 14 games and will likely be the top seed at the MW Tournament.

2. San Diego State (22-7, 12-4): The Aztecs fall based on their home loss to Boise State. Still one of the best teams in the league, but must find more offense as the postseason approaches.

3. Colorado State (24-5, 11-5): Tied for third place with red-hot Utah State, and must play the Aggies on the road Saturday. Four of five losses this season have come on the road.

4. Utah State (18-10, 11-5): Aside from Boise State, the Aggies may be the best team in the MW right now as they’ve won six straight. This team can defend, has a post presence down low and has multiple guys that can shoot the ball. Watch out for them in the postseason.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings and picks

Here are my Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings for this week, along with predictions on this week’s games.

As always, I would love to hear your feedback/opinions.

1. San Diego State (22-6 overall, 12-3 MW): Remains a solid No. 1, and got a shot in the arm with the return of Dwayne Polee II last Saturday. If Polee can make some shots, the Aztecs will be tough to beat down the stretch.

2. Boise State (20-7, 10-4): Bounced back well after its eight-game winning streak was snapped with two wins last week. One of the more underrated defensive teams in the conference. The game of the year in the MW is Saturday when the Broncos play at San Diego State Saturday.

3. Colorado State (23-5, 10-5): Like Boise State, came back from a loss with two wins last week. The Rams play the bottom two teams in the league in San Jose State and Nevada before wrapping up the regular season at Utah State March 7.

4. Wyoming (21-6, 10-4): The Cowboys have to feel good about things after winning two straight games without senior forward Larry Nance Jr., who should return this week from mononucleosis.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings and picks

Here are my Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings for this week, along with predictions on this week’s games.

As always, I would love to hear your feedback/opinions.

1. San Diego State (20-6 overall, 10-3 MW): Back on top after two impressive home wins over Wyoming and Colorado State. The Aztecs also remain in first place in the conference and are the only undefeated team at home.

2. Boise State (18-7, 8-4): A loss at Fresno State last Saturday snapped the Broncos’ eight-game winning streak. Some injuries and suspensions forced it to be down some guys in Fresno. We will see how it bounces back at UNLV this week.

3. Wyoming (20-6, 9-4): Got a much-needed win at home over lowly San Jose State. The Cowboys need to get senior forward Larry Nance Jr. back healthy (mononucleosis) but it won’t be this week. Its lone game this week at Nevada won’t be easy.

4. Colorado State (21-5, 8-5): Still right up near the top, but the Rams will be tested this week with games at Fresno State and home against a suddenly improved Air Force team.

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

My three takes from Wyoming’s 77-60 victory over San Jose State Saturday in front of 7,870 fans at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

1. Adams’ A-game: UW junior guard Josh Adams played one of his better games of the season, and also over the last month or so. Adams finished with a game-high 26 points —

Josh Adams

Josh Adams

three off his career-high. He also matched his season-high with seven assists — one shy of his career-best — and pulled down a season-high seven rebounds — again, one shy of his career-high. Adams did have four turnovers, but for the most part he made good decisions with the ball. He made some spectacular plays passing the ball, and had an acrobatic layup where the ball banked off the top of the backboard. UW needs Adams to play like that from here on out, especially with senior forward Larry Nance Jr. still out with mononucleosis. When Adams attacks the basket like he did, makes good decisions and does a lot of the things he did in this game, UW will have a chance to win.

Here are some video highlights from the game:


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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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