07 January 2011

OUCH! San Jose State basketball loses by 1 point after..FOUR overtime periods!

I was quite surprised to learn that last night's Boise State at San Jose State basketball game actually made it to overtime given that at one point i checked SJSU was trailing BSU by around 10 or so points during the 2nd half. The final score ended up being Boise 102, San Jose 101 in 4 OT's. The last SJSU game that made it to 4 OT's was the January 10, 1985 home game vs. Cal State Fullerton, where SJSU won 97-92 (box score stats not available; I just heard that on radio and looked it up online, that's my best guess). Listening to the game on KSJS-FM 90.5, the SJSU student-run radio station, was a big thrill as SJSU Spartans continued fighting back against Boise State Broncos' non-stop offense with last-possession three-pointers from guard Calvin Douglas (a bencher, not starter). SJSU got lucky at the end of the third overtime, as a replay review found that Boise State guard La'Shard Anderson committed a shot-clock violation by shooting a three-pointer (that went in) after the shot clock buzzer went off (with the shot clock trailing the game clock by 0.9 seconds). By the end of the third OT, the score was a 98-98 tie. Yes, the fourth OT score was BSU 4, SJSU 3, as although SJSU played for the final possession, in the final seconds BSU stole the ball to seal the game. This is SJSU's first overtime loss since the January 28, 2006 home game vs. New Mexico State, an 81-75 loss.

According to the ESPN.com boxscore, the Broncos outscored the Spartans in: field goals made (Boise 43.1% vs. San Jose 37.6%), three-pointers made (37.5% vs. 31.3%), and especially offensive rebounds (18 vs. 9) and steals (10 vs. 3). In overall rebounds though, SJSU had 50 vs. Boise's 40 and made 77.1% of their free throws compared to Boise making 68.9%. With these statistics, it's no wonder how SJSU's shot-clock stalling in the fourth overtime failed them as they couldn't manage to return offensive results from defensive plays (something that happened throughout the game as they kept allowing Boise to make three-point shots while missing their own shots).

The blog Spartan Hoops has a fuller recap of yesterday's heartbreaking game; as announcer Mike Chisholm said on KSJS, given how long the game was running either team would be very disappointed if losing. Spartan Hoops previews Saturday's SJSU home game vs. the University of Idaho Vandals better than I can do.

As of today, the SJSU Spartans are 8-6 overall and 0-3 in Western Athletic Conference play. A sign of doom? Depends on whether the team can get their act together and make a huge comeback this season. And how do the first three games predict the rest of the season?
Appears to be a mixed bag: Fresno State and Nevada had similar records by the third WAC game yet their paths diverged as the season progressed. SJSU's current record nearly mirrors those of Boise State and Idaho by their third WAC games of 2009-2010, and all three teams finished the season with nearly similar records. And although both Lousiana Tech and Fresno State had 3-0 WAC starts, Louisiana Tech had a stronger pre-conference record than Fresno's that helped them make the postseason.

Adrian Oliver, the star senior SJSU guard who transferred from the University of Washington, has said that his goal this year is to take SJSU to the NCAA tournament. By the way, in yesterday's game, Oliver fouled out before overtime began. It's gonna be a long way to go, realistically:
  • The last time SJSU made the NCAA tournament was in 1996 (at the time SJSU were Big West Conference champions but got eliminated in the first round by eventual national champions Kentucky, 110-76).
  • The last time SJSU finished a season above .500 was 2000-2001.
  • The last time SJSU made it to the second round of their conference tournament (having been WAC members since the '96-'97 season) was in 2008 (a much-improved season from last, at 13-19 overall, 4-12 WAC, compared to the 2006-2007 lowly 5-25 and 4-12 WAC).
Last season, even at home Boise State and Idaho were tough: SJSU beat both teams albeit both times 3 or fewer points: vs. Idaho 78-75 on January 4, 2010 and vs. Boise State 76-74 on January 14, 2010. To even make the CollegeInvitational.com (or CBI), SJSU would at least need to be 9-4 in the rest of WAC play (which would lead to an 18-10 season finish, including a non-conference game vs. Montana State on February 15) and make at least the second round of WAC tournament (which would lead to...20 wins!). I predict that SJSU could win over Idaho if the Spartans play hard enough.

The rest of the month's schedule: SJSU visits Louisiana Tech on the 13th...and gosh, Louisiana Tech is off to a bad start right now (9-8 and 0-3, including a home loss yesterday to Fresno State). Saturday the 15th, SJSU visits defending champion New Mexico State; last January 23, SJSU made a comeback victory over NMSU at home, 93-84. Man! What happened to those Aggies? As of today NMSU is 7-9 overall and 1-1 in WAC (including a road loss in Boise State 81-78 on New Year's Eve). The Spartans get 8 days off before visiting Hawaii, which finished disgracefully bad last year and doesn't look so good right now (9-5 and 0-2). SJSU faces WAC runner-up Utah State once again in San Jose on the 27th...having lost to the Aggies in Utah 80-71 on New Year's Eve. The following Saturday, state rival Fresno State comes to San Jose.

Sure, Spartan seniors Adrian Oliver and Justin Graham are great scorers, as are Will Carter, freshman Keith Shamburger, and even rising benchers Calvin Douglas and Chris Jones. But given their shaky WAC start it's time for SJSU to start strategizing on defense: better guarding, maybe some steals now and then, and offensive rebounds too, to get second chances on missed shots. Otherwise, Oliver's dream won't come true, and it'll be yet another disappointing mediocre season for sixth-year coach George Nessman.

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