San Jose State basketball opens Mountain West play with a clank

san_jose_stateClank!

Get used to that noise. It’s a season in which the San Jose State men’s basketball team is far behind the curve and still looked at as building toward mediocrity in the Mountain West. And the bunch is going to spend every waking moment of it, apparently, launching 3-pointers.

And, in the case of Wednesday night’s opener against Nevada, missing most of them.

Whiff!

The Spartans shot just 34 percent for the game against Nevada in a 62-50 loss Wednesday in which they squandered a one-point halftime lead against one of two other bottom feeders in the conference (the other one being Air Force.) That lead, at 26-25, was not the last one, either. The Spartans actually got up by four in the second half before they went cold from the field and the Wolf Pack found their stroke.

Nevada went on an 18-3 run for a good six-minute span in the second half to not only erase the deficit, but put the game away. San Jose State’s shooting never improved, and the Spartans never found any kind of groove from any range. They were 5 for 20 from 3-point range in the game — not bad, but not good — but that small win is immediately negated by the fact that one player hit four of them.

Devante Wilson was the only player to really have a good game. He shot well from the field (4-7 from 3-point range, 6-6 on free throws) to lead the team with 18 points. D.J. Brown continues to show his potential as a pass-first point guard by getting five assists (to go with five points).

But the problems were glaring on the offensive side of the ball. Chris Cunningham was the only other player in double figures with 10 points, but needed needed 11 shots and was well under 50 percent shooting for the game to get there. For the teams only real post presence, he has to be better if he’s going to take that many shots.

Bonk! Rattle rattle rattle.

Rashad Muhammad, the teams surprise scoring juggernaut of the preseason, was quiet. He had just five points, and missed three 3-pointers; Jalen James, the team’s other big recruit, struggled from the field, making just one of seven shots.

This was a missed opportunity. Nevada (6-8) blew no one away in San Jose, and showed that they have a lot of work to do this season also if they want to even sniff the postseason. At 1 for 12 from 3-point range and 42 percent from the field, there was a lot to like about the Spartans defense considering how it has struggled.

San Jose State is going to go where its shooting takes it this season. That’s not going to be far, but when an opportunity like this is missed, it makes it oh so hard to stay optimistic going forward.

Clank!

Next game: at Utah State, Saturday at 6 p.m.

Sidenote: If you aren’t also checking out Kevin McCarthy’s Spartan Roundball blog, you’re missing out.

SJSU women fall at Nevada to open MWC play

For as hard as the men’s game was to take, the women’s was even harder.

San Jose State (6-6, 0-1) laid an egg on the road in Reno, once again allowing a team to hit the century mark in a 101-74 loss to the Wolf Pack on Wednesday. Much like the men, the problem isn’t hard to find – the Spartans shot just 32 percent from the field, and no one was better than 50 percent from the field for the game.

Nevada got 22 points from Danika Sharpe in the first half. The Spartans led for a total of 47 seconds before the Wolf Pack tied it up, then surged ahead. It got so bad the end of the bench was in the game in the second half.

Ta’Rea Cunnigan had 17 points, mostly by getting to the free throw line (10 for 13 on free throws). Three others — Classye James (11), Riana Byrd (10) and Jasmine Smith (13) — were in double figures. The Spartans, though, shot just 15.4 percent (2 for 13) from 3-point range in the first half and subsequently got buried by a 23 point deficit at halftime.

The Spartans were outrebounded 66-46. Despite nine blocks as a team for San Jose State, Nevada was 43 percent from the field for the game.

You have to feel for this team. Coach Jamie Craighead’s offense is a taxing one to run, and being shorthanded is only exacerbating the situation on defense. Only one player Wednesday night had less than 20 minutes on the court, and she was only a minute short of that mark. If the Spartans had a fuller bench right now, they might not have to barely win games by scoring 95-100 points.That’s just not going to happen every time they take the court.

They have a lot of talent, but with the personnel so thin at this point, it’s going to make the mere act of competing difficult at best.

Next game: vs. Utah State, 2 p.m. Saturday

Spartan Notes: San Jose State’s Larceval wins courage award from FWAA for comeback from illness

San Jose State defensive end Anthony Larceval was picked by the Football Writers Association of America for its courage award this year, after he battled back from a viral infection that could have ended his career to play in nine games this season.

The redshirt senior was hospitalized at the end of last year with viral meningoencephalitis, and doctors told him his football career was over. He was able to battle back to play this season. He is the second San Jose State player to win the award, following Neil Parry in 2003.

He will be honored at a banquet at the Orange Bowl in January.

For more: Spartan Athletics release on Larceval’s award.

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San Jose State men’s hoops win thriller over UC Davis in 3OT; women roll over Ga. State

It took an extra three periods, 15 minutes and a lot of work, including more than a few come backs, but the San Jose State men’s basketball was able to fend off a strong challenge from UC Davis for its second straight win and fourth this season, 89-85, on Wednesday night.

This piggybacked off the women’s basketball team snapping its four-game losing streak by outshooting Georgia State, 95-81.

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Lou Tully, San Jose State women’s water polo coach who helped found team, dies at 70

Sad news from San Jose State on Wednesday night: Women’s water polo coach Lou Tully, the only coach that team has ever known, has died from complications relating to his cancer treatment. He was 70.

He had beaten cancer once before, having been diagnosed with it in 2008 and going into remission in 2009. He had a recurrence recently.

Tully helped found the program in the late 1990s after years coaching at different levels, including founding a club team (San Jose Splash) and a stint at Menlo Junior College in the early going.

Tully was one of several coaches who came back home to San Jose State. He played water polo for the school in the 1960s and got his master’s degree there in 1970. Unlike so many other coaches at San Jose State, he had a winning record — 250 wins, 245 losses in 16 seasons at the helm, and the Spartans were ranked in the top 10 nationally 12 times in his career, including top 5 finishes in 2001 and 2011.

To quote Spartan Athletics obituary: “Since 1999, Spartan water polo players earned 24 All-America awards and 32 Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) All-American Academic awards since 2009.”

His passing comes on the eve of the season on the eve of the season. The Spartans were set to open the season on Jan. 11 at Cal State Monterey Bay. Associate head coach Johnny Bega will likely take over the team.

Spartan Notes: San Jose State WR Jones earns honorable mention on SI all-America team

Chandler Jones turned a 15-touchdown, 79-catch season into a spot on the honorable mention list for Sports Illustrated’s All-America team, the only San Jose State player to land on the team. The Mountain West landed a slough of honorable mentions from the magazine, but no actual spots on the first or second team.

Check out the team here.

The long and short of it: David Fales got snubbed. Again.

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Spartan Notes: Oscar Crespo steps down as volleyball coach at San Jose State

After seven seasons as head coach of the Spartans and another 16 as an assistant at several universities, volleyball coach Oscar Crespo is stepping down. He finishes he career with an overall record of 70-138; the San Jose State was 7-23 in his lone season coaching the team in the Mountain West.

Crespo, a San Jose State graduate, was an assistant at St. Mary’s, California and Nevada before returning to San Jose. A replacement has not been named.

He is the third head coach to leave this year. Men’s soccer coach Gary St. Clair, also a San Jose State alumnus, also called it a career earlier this year after 24 seasons with his team falling just short of a WAC tournament title. Tim LaKose, the women’s basketball coach, resigned abruptly at the end of August and was replaced by Sacramento State coach Jamie Craighead.

Add in the recent change of head coach in baseball also from Sam Piraro to Dave Nakama, and we are seeing a major changing of the guard in the San Jose State away from coaches that have both been at the school a long time and have ties to it, to coaches looking to newer coaches looking to take a step up, it would seem.

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Spartan and MWC notes: Faulkner emerges in CFL and Winston wins MWC top freshman award

Courtesy of the Ottawa Redblacks Twitter account (original source TBA)

Courtesy of the Ottawa Redblacks Twitter account (original source TBA)

Matt Faulkner, perhaps best remembered the serviceable but unremarkable starter in 2011 for San Jose State, has signed as the first quarterback for the expansion Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League. He is the first quarterback under contract for the team, which will begin building its team in earnest on Monday with the expansion draft.

In his one year starting for the Spartans, he completed a shade under 65 percent of his passes for 3,149 yards, throwing as many touchdowns (13) as he did interceptions (13). He had transferred from Fresno State and Mt. San Antonio College.

The Ottawa Citizen places him as likely third on the depth chart, since the Redblacks will at least get two QBs with CFL experience in the expansion draft.

This is the third attempt at a CFL franchise in the Canadian capitol. The Ottawa Rough Riders went for more than 75 years before folding in 1996. The Ottawa Renegades went from 2002 to 2005 before the league forced the team to cease operations.

Winston is MWC freshman of the year; 3 more on first team

Tyler Winston parlayed a strong freshman year as Noel Grigsby’s replacement into an award from the Mountain West Conference this year, winning the conference’s freshman of the year award after a strong first season.

He caught 58 balls this season for five touchdowns and 858 yards, a 14.8 yards/catch average. Not bad for someone who was needed as an emergency replacement for the senior Grigsby, who was lost for the season in the early going.

He leads a class of three other Spartans on the all-Mountain West first football team, with David Fales predictably losing out on the first QB spot to Derek Carr from Fresno State. Receiver Chandler Jones, cornerback Bene Benwikere and linebacker Keith Smith all earned first team honors.

Fales was the second team quarterback along with offensive lineman Nicholas Kaspar and kicker Austin Lopez. Freshman tight end Billy Freeman and offensive lineman Ryan Jones were honorable mention.

The conference awards were: Offensive player of the year, Derek Carr, Fresno State; Freshman of the year, Tyler Winston, San Jose State; Special teams player of the year, Carlos Wiggins, New Mexico; defensive player of the year, Shaquil Barrett, Colorado State; Coach of the year, Matt Wells, Utah State.

In other news from San Jose State and the conference …

  • More awards for San Jose State’s young’uns: Tyler Winston earned another honor this week to. He and three other San Jose State freshmen and sophomore kicker Austin Lopez earned honorable mention on the College Football News’ freshman and sophomore all-America teams. Winston, running back Jarrod Lawson, linebacker Christian Tago, tight end Billy Freeman earned spots on the freshman team, while Lopez was honorable mention on the sophomore team.
  • Jon Wilner doesn’t waste your time this time: Taking time away from his stumping for the big conferences, he writes about why San Jose State didn’t deserve a bowl game.
  • Check out the recruiting class: Not bad so far, all things considered. Mission Viejo QB and 3-star recruit Ian Fieber leads the class so far (we hope.)
  • From Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times, next Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl will be a reunion for two Bakersfield products in USC quarterback Cody Kessler (who graduated from Bakersfield Centennial) and Fresno State’s Derek Carr (who went to Bakersfield Christian.) The two are good friends.
  • Step 1 for UNLV: Make bowl game. Step 2: ?????. Step 3. Profit? So writes Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which has its postseason berth and now much figure out how it will pay for things like travel and the likes.
  • Side note: No one from UNLV earned first team All-Mountain West honors this year, despite the team’s 7-5 record. Three made the second team: lineman Brandon Boyko, receiver Devante Davis and running back Tim Cornett. My thought: The Rebels got their bowl game, they can deal with it.
  • San Diego State is busily preparing for its bowl game in Boise by trying to practice outdoors as much as possible, reports the Union-Tribune. Two problems: San Diego is rather balmy this time of year compared to Boise (which might not get over freezing for game time), and they are having to share practice facilities with Boise State as they prepare for the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas eve.
  • Bryan Harsin is back home with Boise State, the Idaho Statesman writes, after the school essentially purchased him from Arkansas State. the Red Wolves, in an interesting note, have now had four different coaches in four straight years (Steve Roberts was fired after the 2010 season, Hugh Freeze bolted for Ole Miss after the 2011 season, Gus Malzahn left for Auburn after the 2012 season, and Harsin left after the 2013 season for Boise State.)
  • Colorado State sophomore running back Kapri Bibbs was named second team All-American this year.
  • In a wild bit of speculation from the Fort Collins Coloradoan, reporter Kelly Lyell looks into whether Rams coach Jim McElwain could be an option to replace Nick Saban at Alabama should he leave the Crimson Tide for, say, Texas. McElwain won two national titles as offensive coordinator for Saban in 2009 and 2011. But the reality is, with his buyouts at $4 million this year and $3 million next year, he’s probably not leaving Fort Collins this year.