16 November 2011

Hard to be patient with a team that gives up leads so easily

Not just San Jose State's football team, which gave up yet another opportunity to win last Saturday in Logan, losing to Utah State 34-33 and thus losing bowl eligibility (I'd rather there be a playoff system in college football a la the NCAA basketball tournament, but I'll save that for another blog).

In the meantime, SJSU basketball came off a very close 51-50 win in its home opener v UC Irvine. The win resulted from the referees deciding that a UC Irvine player didn't get a successful shot off his hands before the buzzer. A similar thing happened in SJSU's 75-74 WAC tournament win last season v Hawaii, as seen in this fan-created video (starting at the 1:25 mark)

Tonight, SJSU lost at the War Memorial Arena to San Francisco 83-81 in overtime. The Spartans rallied from a 20-8 deficit early in the 1st quarter to lead 37-35 at halftime. Then the Spartans had led as many as 8 for the majority of the 2nd half (similar to the previous game v UCI) before San Francisco rallied to force OT, tied 71 both. USF began OT with a 7-2 run. Finally, SJSU had the chance to tie or win with a three after USF's Cody Doolin missed both free throws. There were 7 seconds left. James Kinney (a transfer from the Mid-American Conference Ohio and then the jr. college Eastern Utah) tried a desperation half-court shot when he really could've gotten within reasonable range for a buzzer beater. No good. Although SJSU had a good defensive effort and Keith Shamburger once again showed his offensive talents--he even opened the 2nd half with two consecutive three-pointers--the team just found yet another way to give the game away in the last minute. A similar OT loss happened in Feb. 2011 v Nevada, except the loss was by 8.

San Jose State has yet to win on the road but has another opportunity Saturday night when the Spartans face cross-town rival Santa Clara. Unlike the past two games in which SJSU made less than 30% of field goals, tonight the Spartans made 48.5%. Because it's so early in the season, average statistics are not reliably predictable, as Santa Clara has a 39.1% FG average based on two lopsided games: 44.8% v the D-III UC Merced and 32.8% v the defending Big West champions UC Santa Barbara. SJSU's average, in contrast, so far is a measly 28%. The past two of SJSU's games were within close margins, while SJSU's opening game was a 79-52 loss to Cal Poly. On the individual player level, it appears that Santa Clara has the offensive advantage in its leading scorer. A comparison:
  • Keith Shamburger (SJSU) averages: 35 mins, 12.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 30% field goals made, 73.3% free throws, 22.2% 3-pointers. Committed 7 turnovers. Grabbed 5 rebounds, all defensive.
  • Kevin Foster (SCU): 21 mins, 14.5 points, 2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 33.3% field goals, 71.4% free throws, 28.6% 3-pointers. Committed 2 turnovers. Of 4 rebounds, 2 each in offense and defense.
But again, keep in mind that these statistics could be skewed in favor of SCU because the team played a D-III opponent for its first game. It's interesting to note that SJSU had better field goal and 3 point percentages in losing to USF than UCSB had winning over SCU:
  • Field goals: SJSU 48.5% v USF, UCSB 47.5% v SCU
  • 3 pointers: SJSU 35.7% v USF, UCBS 30.0% v SCU
San Jose State will have a truly competitive game against Santa Clara on Saturday night if the team improves on offense, most of all, and enforces the defense against the Broncos.

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