Spartan Notes: The SJSU men’s hoops team gets into win column

san_jose_stateSan Jose State is going to do certain things that are just expected. The custom of a rebuilding season is that a team isn’t going to move the ball well, won’t shoot well, will be caught with their pants down on defense, and will lose. A lot. And it is the new coach’s job to make sure the young team learns from all of this so they get better next year.

Fans got a reprieve from the standard operating procedures of Dave Wojcik’s total rebuild, because few of those customary things actually happened Wednesday.

The Spartans (1-4) got their first win after being left for dead, as per protocol this season, trailing by 10 at halftime Wednesday against Pepperdine. They opened on a 21-10 run to open the second half, outscored the Waves by 16 points in the half to pick up their first win, on the road no less, 83-77 on Wednesday.

They shot a little better overall from the field and certain from 3-point range, played strong defense in the second half, grabbed rebounds and moved the ball some. And it all equaled a win over a decent West Coast Conference squad that entered the game undefeated (3-0).

Some noteworthy things from this game:

  • Those ill-advised shots? They fell on Wednesday: The Spartans were 14 for 27 from behind the arc, better than in any of their previous six games counting their exhibitions. Devante Wilson had 20 points on 7 for 13 shooting, going 6 for 10 from 3-point range. It’s nice to see the Spartans have the type of night from the field where the breaks go their way, but the team needs to take fewer ill-advised shots; they rank 311th in the nation in shooting percentage at 39.1 percent, an ugly number that explains the 1-4 start.
  • Jalen James as facilitator, and other ball movement notes: San Jose State had 13 assists as a team, with freshman point guard James offsetting his poor shooting night (0 for 7, 1 point) with four assists. The numbers suggest this team is starting to move the ball a little (four players scored in double figures: Wilson with 20, Jaleel Williams with 22, Rashad Muhammad and D.J. Brown with 14 each.) Brown added three more assists. San Jose State right now is averaging 10.4 assists per game, 301st in the nation. Ball movement is going to be a key way of measuring how they are growing, and it’s important to remember that this team is essentially 15 different parts that never played a game together before this year. It’s going to take time.
  • The Spartans are still a second half team: The Spartans have yet to take a lead into halftime, but they’ve held with teams through the final 20 minutes. In Wednesday’s game, they opened the second half on a 21-10 run to erase Pepperdine’s big halftime lead.
  • Grabbing rebounds is helping this team … : Chris Cunningham had 11 rebounds Wednesday, and the team grabbed 38 total. They are 177th in the nation on average with about 37 per game, which at least puts them toward the middle of the nation.
  • … But limiting turnovers is what won this one: San Jose State turned the ball over a whole six times. For a team that is, as per protocol with this team this year, in the bottom portion of the nation in turnovers (281st) having committed 54 through the first four games, it’s nice to see them take care of the ball. Not giving a strong Pepperdine squad extra points in this manner probably is what allowed the Spartans to go on their second half run and make a move toward getting their first win of the season.

In other San Jose State sports news …

  • The San Jose State women’s basketball team keeps making new coach Jamie Craighead look good. Freshman Jasmine Smith had the her third double-double in five games as the Spartans beat San Francisco 98-79 at home, moving their record to 4-1 on the season. Rebecca Woodberry had 29 points for the Spartans, which made 13 of 36 3-point attempts, both figures being records in the modern era for the team. Smith had 10 points and 11 rebounds. A not to be lost in this effort: Ta’Rea Cunnigan scored 28 points for the Spartans.
  • Friday is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the Spartans will mark the occasion with a reading of a quote from the speech JFK was supposed to deliver in Dallas the day he was killed, and a moment of silence. The Spartans host Navy for what is Military Appreciation Night.
  • San Jose State golf alumna Julie Inkster will work as a part-time analyst for the Golf Channel.
  • San Jose State softball signed two players for next school year.

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