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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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: Jalen James honored by MWC after triple-double on Saturday

Jalen James put up stellar numbers in the Spartans upset of Houston on Saturday, getting just the second triple-double in San Jose State history and just the third in Mountain West history.

He was rewarded Monday with a share of the Mountain West Conference co-player of the week honors with New Mexico’s Cameron Bairstow.

James is the fifth player in the NCAA to have a triple-double this season, getting 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in the Spartans’ 72-68 win over the Cougars, but he is the first freshman this season to do so.

In other San Jose State sports news …

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Spartan Notes: SJSU men’s hoops stun Houston, and MWC bowl projections

935_-mountain_west_conference-primary-2011Saturday morning, I said that what ails San Jose State basketball is an inability to move the ball and pick good shots.

Well, then.

Throw that out at least for one game. San Jose State walked away Saturday with its most impressive win of the season, rallying to beat the University of Houston 72-68 on the road.

The team’s top two recruits were the show: Rashad Muhammad, in continuing with what is becoming tradition for the Spartans, led in scoring with 21 points, including a 3-pointer in the final minutes that gave them the lead for good.

More impressive, though, is Jalen James’ triple-double, just the second in school history and third in Mountain West history. The freshman guard had 12 points, 10 assists and 13 rebounds against the Cougars on Saturday. It is the first in the conference since 2006, and first since 2001 for San Jose State.

This was a big win for the Spartans. They came back from an 11-point deficit with about eight minutes left, playing strong defense and taking advantage of Houston going cold from the field. They had 17 assists, by far the most in a game this season, and shot a season-high 48.9 percent from the field, including a 14 for 26 mark from 3-point range.

D.J. Brown added five assists and four steals in the game, and Devante Wilson had 16 points. The Spartans are off 10 days before facing UC Davis on Dec. 18.

In other San Jose State news …

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They shoot (and miss) a lot: Quick assessment of SJSU’s men’s hoops team so far

Dave Wojcik and Jaleel Williams.

Dave Wojcik and Jaleel Williams.

It hasn’t been a pretty open to San Jose State’s first season in the Mountain West. Not that anyone should have expected it to be.

The Spartans are just 2-6 so far heading into Saturday’s game against Houston (Online, ESPN3 at 3 p.m.), with an impressive win over Pepperdine and little else to show. Rashad Muhammad has been a revelation in the early going, averaging 16.9 points per game so far, while junior Jaleel Williams pitches in about 14 per game.

But what ails the Spartans in this early juncture is a mix of woes on offense and defense that come with unfamiliarity with each other, and youth. Dave Wojcik had no delusions when he came to San Jose that it was going to be tough.

But I wonder if he knew just how tough it was going to be this first season?

Some early observations of the Spartans’ play so far this season:

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