Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday: links and more

Here's your chance to vote for Wendell McKines as Player-of-the-Month. C'mon, make it two-in-a-row.

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Teddy Feinberg looks at other conference possibilities for New Mexico State's non-football sports. The WCC is never going to happen so save your candles and prayer beads on that one.

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A Westwind (AZ) Prep tweet: "PITT, Western Illinois and Utah State attends WPA workouts this week" 

Don't know if USU is looking for this year or next.

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A Marc J. Spears tweet: "Hope Dave Wojcik good choice for . Passed on Eric Musselman,Travis Decuire, Rick Croy, Jean Prioleau, Jim Cleamons, Steve Barnes"

Barnes, currently the Director of Player Personnel at Colorado State, coached the Spartans from 1999-2002.

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Below is the official SJSU 2013-14 roster: 

* David Andoh, F, 6-foot-7, 200, sophomore

* D.J. Brown, G, 6-foot-2, 185, junior

* Chris Cunningham, F, 6-foot-9, 240, senior

*
Louis Garrett, F, 6-foot-6, 215, senior
 

* Nick Grieves, G, 6-foot-3, 160, junior (walk-on)      
 

* Stephon Smith, F, 6-foot-8, 260, junior       

* Mike VanKirk, C, 7-foot-1, 240, sophomore

* Jaleel Williams, F, 6-foot-6, 215, junior

This makes it appear that up to six scholarships will be available to Coach Dave Wojcik and the guard spots are bare but for Brown. Center Alex Brown and guard Xavier Jones had another season of eligibility remaining but are no longer listed.

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They play rough in LA -- the opening line to Bill Plaschke's column on Steve Alford's hiring at UCLA: "He has a rock-star image with an opening-act resume."

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Dave Wojcik hire

Hey, everyone's guessing how new Spartan coach Dave Wojcik will work out, including AD Gene Blaymaier, because nobody really knows -- the future simply cannot be foretold. New hires are like marriages as, even with the best of intentions, it's all still a roll of the dice. But Wojcik brings energy and the SJSU program is desperately in need of that element.

FWIW, here's what PTW wants to see and quickly:

* a dinner honoring the team members and especially the graduating seniors

* a welcome home extended hand to former Spartan basketball players

* an uptempo display of ferocity as soon as workouts can take place

* spring and summer 'recommendations' issued for player body and skill improvement

Saturday: it's link-eroo time

Jason Groves dives into the 'Coach Marvin Menzies did-he-or-didn't-he-interview for the Texas Tech opening?' pondering pool.

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Seattle U Hoops looks at the success of Florida Gulf Coast and its applicability to Redhawk basketball.

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Terrance Payne writes about San Jose State University's hire of Boise State Associate Head Coach Dave Wojcik.

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Maine backcourter Justin Edwards is transferring, desiring a larger playing stage and New Mexico State fans are getting excited because he's Canadian (the Assistant Coach Paul Weir connections). However, is the WAC enough of a limelight? Fresno (Mountain West Conference) State offered Edwards out of high school.

Friday, March 29, 2013

It Wojcik time in San Jose

San Jose State University has hired Dave Wojcik as its next head basketball coach. He is currently the Associate Head Coach at Boise State. Here is his bio from the BSU site.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Matt Brown writes about the reality of headhunting, whether it be the corporate world or college basketball. A jump-out-at-you quote:

"...But a lot of the time, fans tend to have an overly optimistic view of their own situation, and what their program has to offer..."
Yep.

The so-called latest in the WAC coaching searches

Can't find anything in print on the latest in the Texas State coaching search.

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As for San Jose State University, the following posts are collected from the Inside Sparta Basketball MB:

Mark Purdy - San Jose Mercury News:

Latest name I'm hearing connected to San Jose State hoops coaching search: Colorado assistant Jean Prioleau


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Spartansword

Posted: Today 12:37 AM

Musselman

Talked to Eric today and he indicated he has not been contacted for the SJSU job.....cross his name off.


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burritostan

Posted: Yesterday 3:04 PM

Who is your guess who will be our new mens BB coach
I am guessing the new basketball coach will be Dave Wojcik, now assistant head coach at BSU.


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spartygus

Posted: Yesterday 5:38 PM

Re: Who is your guess who will be our new mens BB coach
 

Rick Croy from St. Mary's.......

Friday: a handful of more links

Kyle Goon reports on Utah State's goals to get stronger and better in preparation for Mountain West Conference play.

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The Rusty Maverick reviews the season for Texas Arlington hoops.

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Ryan Teeples writes about Nike and Utah State, or actually branding and college athletics, in a very informative article.

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In the Las Cruces Bulletin, NMSU broadcaster Jack Nixon makes his picks for Aggie basketball awards.

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Crimson Illustrated is having doubts: "MBB: Tubby Smith is rumored to be the frontrunner for the Texas Tech job. And they need coach Menzies advice for that hire? Not buying it"

Another CI tweet.

Who knows, who will ever know?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thursday: a bunch o' links

Mel Grussing reports that Coach Don Verlin is coming out to southern California to check out an Antelope Valley College backcourter.

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Timothy R. Olsen has Coach Stew Morrill looking at the 2012-13 Aggie season plus offering some medical updates.

Ditto for Kyle Goon and Shawn Harrison.  

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A tweet from Vandal Nation: "Good news rolling in - Men's basketball received a commitment from 6-3 Seattle, Wash. SG Sekou Wiggs. Currently at prep school in Georgia"

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Seattle U Hoops has tweeted: "Sounds like the have a commitment from another JuCo player"

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday: a few items for you

Should have held off and posted the Wendell McKines feature today, because it's...

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Jason Groves reports that Coach Marvin Menzies said he isn't Lubbock bound.

A tweet from Crimson Illustrated: "MBB: What I got out of the Boston interview is if Menzies has another successful season and gets offered "big bucks", he's done at NMSU"

He and 99.999% of coaches -- can't blame them. Anytime a bigger wallet and more resources to work with are siren songing, anyone in any profession would have a difficult time saying no.

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Matt Vines looks back at Louisiana Tech's bountiful season.

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The name offerings on the message boards for the San Jose State coaching position is an eye-opener. Hire so-and-so is posted and, more often than not, it's followed by a takedown of that individual, followed by a defense. In that vein, let's have some fun:

SpartanGod

Hey, gotta go with JC out of Nazareth U -- he's the one, no other like him, he'll take you where no one else can. He has the capabilities of turning swill into the finest bouquet with a finish that lasts forever and, if you ask really nice, he'll make and bring team benches along with him.

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SJSU Mephistopheles

No, no, no. I heard he's a cheater and cusses up a storm when he bangs a finger with his hammer. He is not who he seems.

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BoosterSparty

Definitely not -- he's bad with money guys, treats 'em with no respect. Not my choice.

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1992SJSUGrad

Why not? If he can get our guys to aim better and return from injury quicker.

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King Spartan

I find in him no fault at all.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The many sides of Wendell McKines

We don't even want a finder's fee -- just having it happen would be enough. 'It' being former New Mexico State star Wendell McKines, once his playing days are over, taking over the chair of Charles Barkley (he has to retire some time, right?) in performing NBA and college basketball television analysis. Talk about a merger of opportunity and talent.

That's something suggested to McKines during a recent interview with him. Let's just say he was amenable to such a step.

Currently playing for the SPO Rouen Basket, members of the Ligue National de Basketball in France, McKines is represented by the Bay Area-based Pensack Sports Management Group.

He was named the Player of the Month for February and McKines is performing quite well in March too so a second award could be in the offing.

What confounds some, especially those in and around Logan, Utah, is he and former Utah Stater Tai Wesley have paired up in Rouen as teammates. This, after mixed martial arts battles during their respective days in the Western Athletic Conference.

As McKines described his collegiate mano-a-mano minuets with Wesley: "I hated him and he hated me but we always respected each other's playing."

Plus, both had an inkling once it became known that the enemies would be pairing up -- "We knew we would play well together."

That they have.

In McKines' league, the top eight teams make the playoffs and SPO Rouen Basket is currently sixth in those rankings.

What has helped in his transition overseas is his wife and child are with him.

"They came over a couple of weeks after I got here," McKines explained. His team has supplied them with a car and a two bedroom apartment. SPO Rouen Basket also has a translator for basketball games and practices but some things are universal.

As McKines said, "you pick up key words as time goes on."

Asked about his toughest individual college opponents, he named Tai Wesley and former Nevada star Luke Babbitt.

With the former, "anytime a shot went up he faced guarded me and boxed me out." It was as if Wesley had but one task in their matchups and that was use a laser-like focus to stop McKines.

 It was different with Babbit.

"He's a legitimate 6-foot-9, lefthanded and he got quicker off the floor and added ruggedness his sophomore year," McKines recalled.

Regarding his time in Las Cruces, which included Big Dancin' in 2010 against Michigan State in a No. 12-seed/No. 5 seed pairing that involved a controversial late call which led to a Spartan 70-67 victory, he has a soft spot in his heart for Coach Marvin Menzies.

"He's my guy," McKines said. "Going into Las Cruces, I was fresh out of Richmond and raw. He let me learn from my mistakes and let me become a man. He helped me a lot as a person." 

McKines' game has also continued to develop. 

"I'm more balanced, with more finesse and I'm a lot more fluid with my shot. I can make more moves on the court."

But off the court, there's a side of McKines that shouldn't but would probably take some by surprise.

To a query about his child playing basketball, he responded, "I didn't have a choice. If up to me, I'm pushing becoming a doctor, a teacher or an entrepreneur."

He is also reflective and philosophical, someone who has witnessed a lot despite his youth and given a great deal of thought to his experiences.

"I take life really seriously. Every breath every day is a blessing. I really focus on being positive because a lot of kids in my community grow up not really cherishing life."

McKines continued with his counsel: "It's not all about fun. Do the hard things so that your life can be easier in the long run. Listen to people who care about you -- listen, listen, listen. You don't know everything as a teenager."

Asked what he would offer as recruiting advice to up-and-coming athletes, he said, "School should be your #1 priority. Take care of your responsibilities and listen to the people who have your best interests in mind."

He remains in contact with fellow Bay Area basketball stars. Among them are Tim Pierce, Drew Gordon, Diamon Simpson, Justin Graham, Frank Otis, Adrian Oliver, Quentin Thomas -- "I have a nice network of friends."

Posed with the question of how his friends would describe him, he tendered this label defying treasure: "it depends on the day. One day, I'm Wendell, the next day it's Wens-day. I don't want to be figured out."

McKines is bound for big things post-basketball. He is a man of many facets who to this day is inexplicably under-the-radar to many, but not for long.

Tuesday: one game report + a few more interesting items

Louisiana Tech continued its magical mystery tour season against Southern Mississippi last night and was down 35-27 at the half. The Bulldogs tried in vain to close the gap but eventually fell 63-52 to the Golden Eagles.

It was not pretty as LT shot 35% overall and 4-22 from long distance. The Mississippians managed 41% shooting and 1-15 from three-point range.

Raheem Appleby led with 17 points and he added six rebounds. Freshman backcourter Alex Hamilton contributed 15 points, six assists, five boards and a trio of blocked shots.

Bulldog athletics game reports.

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Seattle U Hoops has now tweeted: " recruiting update: 2013 G Trey Dickerson has told me he'll decide his school in April, and Seattle U is on his list"

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Teddy Feinberg reports that New Mexico State is headed to the Sun Belt Conference come 2014 but in football only.

Idaho too.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Two more Monday items

Mel Grussing writes that 6-foot-2 Antelope Valley College (CA) backcourter Mike Scott is going to be checking out the Famous Potatoes State. He played prep ball in southern California

While the AVC stat sheet looks incomplete, Scott averaged 13.9 points per game in the recently completed season.

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The Hoop Dirtster notes four names he is hearing about in conjunction with the opening at Texas State.

The basketball version of a college road trip

Does your favorite team bus trip to some games? If so, read on to get a feeling of what that is like. Try to stop laughing.

Monday: one game preview

It's Louisiana Tech in Hattiesburg to take on Southern Mississippi tonight. The pairing will be televised by ESPNU.

Golden Eagle athletics and Bulldog athletics game preview as does Matt Vines.

These two teams met in Ruston on December 8 and it was Coach Mike White's guys winning 65-55 -- here is that game report. Neither team shot well but LT went to the foul line 34 times versus 17 for the Mississippians. However, the latter took the battle of the boards 46-30.

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Nothing new on the coaching searches at SJSU and Texas State except for some really 'out there' names being tossed about among the Silicon Valley fandom. Sorry, AD Gene Blaymaier and Reggie Theus won't be an item. Tommy Amaker will never know the way to San Jose. Jeez, who is going to be the first to nominate Ben Howland?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Coaches as deities

It's human nature to desire heroes and heroines. The needs of those seeking larger-than-life inspiration are met by such.

But lately there sure have been a lot of athletes across the sports spectrum being exposed as possessing feet of clay, or worse. But that's another subject, another day.

We seek the same thing in pedestal-ing coaches as tributes are paid in most every broadcast and gazillions of words have been written about those especially with the most wins.

Becayse they are considered the successful ones.

But let's take a minute and examine this element.

Why is it always the ones who win the most who are elevated into this Olympus pantheon?

If you disagree, then why can't the most observant of college fans identify a list of coaches whose players graduate at the highest percentage? Additionally, nobody in the stands or in front of a television knows who are really the best teachers of the craft, a critical element since instructing is the North Star of such a skills set.

However, the idea of the winners being icons of their profession is undercut by a simple law of our human universe: them with the gold, rule.

Leaders with the best collections of talent should win far, far more games than they lose -- that's the how and why of collecting Ws. Those with the largest amount of resources at their disposal should succeed the most.

So if such is the expectation, why is the fulfillment of the prophecy so heralded?

It's not as if these individuals have necessarily conjured up any proprietary magic formulas.

Besides the top teachers and graduators, there are also coaches at all levels who are succeeding in wins versus losses minus any sort of Fort Knox availability. Plus, there are those who are underwater in court successes but still top shelf in preparing their players for a basketball afterlife.

That's what makes the achievements of someone like Butler's Brad Stevens all the more remarkable (here we go with that hero worshiping thing again). He doesn't have a budget that provides for national recruiting nor are his recruiting classes ever listed in anyone's Top 10 or 20. But he succeeds in all measurements at such a high level anyway.

Another example: look at what Louisiana Tech Coach Mike White has accomplished in just two seasons! Ruston isn't LA or Tobacco Road, his budget is miniscule compared to a majority of his competitors and nobody has won consistently there pre-White.

A quote from the James Stewart film "Harvey" is a great way to end this piece. It's from a psychiatrist character emoting about his time wasted on small matters while overlooking the big picture:
Dr. Chumley: Fly specks, fly specks! I've been spending my life among fly specks while miracles have been leaning on lampposts at 18th and Fairfax!
So do not fully judge a coach by his Ws and Ls but evaluate by what he/she achieves across the spectrum with his Jimmy-and-Joe charges. Ultimately, the latter is the most important for all of us.

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Pertaining to this subject,  David Roth writes about "The Cult of the Coach"

Sunday: it's getting sparse

Guaranteed. Ruston-ites will sleep better tonight as Coach Mike White has received a contract extension.

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Howard College's Cameron Forte is generating interest from a number of schools, including Texas San Antonio.

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No further word in the Texas State coaching search.

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Here's some unsolicited advice: the Cal State Northridge AD should hire former New Mexico State coach Reggie Theus as the next Matador mentor.

Really, not to name names but who else in the group of five candidates really offers a chance for Northridge basketball to take a higher trajectory? Granted, the younger guys offer a possibility at least but the older ones haven't set the world afire at their earlier D-1 head coaching posts and CSUN offers less resources. Yes, Theus brings some degree of baggage and is a time-intensive employee but go for it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The gangs that couldn't shoot straight

Gordon Monson captures what PTW is feeling -- the shooting element of college basketball is dissolving into the accuracy of pee-wee hoops where kids strain just to release the ball, let alone get it above the rim. With trainers and coaches galore, why is this aspect diminishing into ugliness? It can't be just the uber-physical nature of play nowadays because there are still too many ugly outcomes on attempts from outside.

Saturday's hire-a-coach post

First question to the candidates pursuing the San Jose State University job should be:

"How and why will you succeed when nobody in decades at San Jose has?"

Hopefully, the individuals won't pull punches and a portion of the response will be about the previous lack of internal support for the basketball program that has hindered success. Not making excuses because there are Mike Whites turning matters around quickly but SJSU is headed to the major leagues and a much more and serious institutional commitment must be put into place.

The second question should be: how and why are you going to best Steve Alford, Dave Rice, Steve Fisher and Larry Eustachy both on the court and in recruiting?

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Scott Wolf lists former New Mexico State coach Reggie Theus as one of the five final candidates for the opening at Cal State Northridge.

Saturday: just two links

Jason Groves looks back at the Aggie 2012-13 season and then fast forwards to the next one.

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Matt Vines offers print and video regarding the significance of Louisiana Tech's win over Florida State.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The WAC daily coaching hire post

From the Hoop Dirtster: "An early “hot” name at Tennessee Chattanooga is New Mexico associate head coach Craig Neal. His younger brother Shane played at UTC during the Mocs' glory years under Mack McCarthy. Apparently Shane is working in Chattanooga and has some juice in the athletic department. Craig Neal was third-round draft pick by Portland in 1988, and also played for Miami and Denver. Prior to his time at New Mexico, he was an assistant at Iowa. By all accounts, he was very close to getting the Colorado State job last off-season" 

Neal has also been proposed for the open San Jose State University position by some fans.

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A thought regarding Kansas Assistant Kurtis Townsend being nominated by some SJSU fans: if Townsend's Facebook message truly was "I am trying to get involved in the head basketball search would luv to come home and coach in San Jose" then he certainly wasn't among the names on AD Gene Blaymaier's shortlist and, yes, every AD has one. It appears like someone trying to create public momentum.

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It's day 10 of the SJSU hoops opening. Yes, the recruiting clock is ticking but it's most important to get the right new hire. Keep repeating this Barbara Johnson mantra: “Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears."

Friday: two game reports

PTW would have chosen an Aggie over a Billiken in a mano-a-mano encounter but as some have suggested/hinted/screamed from the highest mountaintop, what does PTW know? It was 29-16 in favor of the Golden Archers at the half and, while NMSU made some runs, Coach Marvin Menzies' guys never could make it close enough to apply pressure to the victors and fell 66-44. Bandja Sy led with 17 points (on 20 shots) and nine boards while Sim Bhullar grabbed a team-leading 11 boards, enjoyed three blocks but he attempted just four shots. The Aggies shot 28% overall, 2-16 on three attempts and 8-13 from the foul line.

Jason Groves live-tweeted the game.

JasonG and Aggie athletics game report. JasonG also takes another look.

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In a similar vein, gotta go with a Pioneer versus a Terrapin, right? Even if the venue favors the latter. Wrong-amundo my friend. Maryland bested Denver 62-52 last night after being behind by three, 30-27, at the half. Chris Udofia led the Mile High squad with both 24 points and six boards. Denver shot 40% overall, 5-18 from long distance and 7-13 at the foul line.

Pioneer athletics and Patrick Stevens game report.

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Texas Arlington athletics  looks back over this season and then the future of Maverick hoops.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Today in SJSU finding-a-coach items + a Texas State possibility

So is the interest from the state of Florida in the San Jose State coaching position coming from former Cal player Dennis Gates? It's just a guess but no other assistant at a Florida College has any West Coast connections. Here is Gates' bio.

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From Adam Green comes an article in which Arizona State AD Steve Patterson endorses Assistant Coach Eric Musselman for a head coaching position.

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Another name new to the message boards is Kansas assistant Coach Kurtis Townsend, a South Bay native.  One post has Townsend writing on his Facebook page: "I am trying to get involved in the head basketball search would luv to come home and coach in San Jose"

This article raises questions for some, who knows what are the answers.

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Caught this intriguing Tyler Mayforth quote: "Wouldn't be surprised if 's next head coach just watched his team lose in the first round of the NIT to Stanford"

That person being Stephen F. Austin's Danny Kaspar. Here is his bio.

Thursday. one game report + a collection o' links

The season has concluded for Texas Arlington as the Mavericks fell 84-76 to Oral Roberts last night.UTA allowed (for them) a remarkable 43 first half points and that was all she wrote. Karol Gruszecki led with 21 points and Brandon Edwards just missed a double-double at 11 points plus nine boards.

Maverick athletics game reports.

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Check out this game photo from the Mile High Mids folks.

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A touch of recruiting news from Seattle U Hoop's Twitter account: "Word is that guard Trey Dickerson gave a verbal commitment to Seattle U, but still looking at other schools. Would be really nice get."

Here's a rating of the young man but not sure of the year.  

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Louisiana Tech's starting five versus Florida State were Alex Hamilton, Michale Kyser, Brandon Gibson, Raheem Appleby and Kenneth Smith, otherwise knows as a freshman, a sophomore, a senior, a sophomore and a sophomore. Amazing.

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Jason Groves writes about how defending is a strength of both New Mexico State and St. Louis.

Teddy Feinberg looks at the Aggie roster individually and collectively.

JasonG offers his keys to the NMSU - St. Louis meeting.

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Denver will be at Maryland as part of the NIT tourney. Can another WAC team blemish the ACC?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Another name for the SJSU opening

Missed this from earlier as readers in the Bay Area are on to this:

From the Hoop Dirt site: "Multiple sources have told me that St. Mary’s assistant Rick Croy is involved at San Jose State. He is a San Francisco native who has been on Randy Bennett’s staff at SMC for the past two seasons. Before that, he was the head coach at Citrus College (CA) where he led his squad to a 130-35 overall record."

and

From the San Francisco Chronicle: "St. Mary's assistant Rick Croy is a candidate for the head-coaching position at San Jose State. Croy has been on Randy Bennett's staff for three seasons. Before that, Croy was head coach at Citrus College. He played at Northgate High and San Francisco State."

Here is Croy's bio at the St. Mary's athletics site:

Rick Croy recently completed his second season as an assistant coach on the men's basketball staff at Saint Mary's in 2011-12.  The affable Croy assists with all aspects of coaching, including recruiting, practice and game preparation and player development.

In a short time as the head coach at Citrus College, Croy staked his claim as one of the state's best junior college coaches. In his five seasons at the Glendora, Calif. school, Croy guided the Owls to a 130-35 record and led the Fighting Owls to their first ever State Championship in 2008.

Croy led Citrus College to their third straight Western State Conference (WSC) title in 2010, and an appearance in the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Final Four. He was named the WSC Coach of the Year in 2010 (for the third straight year) while leading the Fighting Owls to a 92-9 overall record, for a .910 winning percentage, during that stretch. Both were tops in the state of California over the last three years, which included a 35-1 mark during the 2007-08 state title run, an 28-5 record during the 2008-09 season, and a 29-3 record in 2009-10.

In his time at Citrus, Croy moved 13 players on to the NCAA Division I level, including former Saint Mary's basketball player Tron Smith (2006-08).

Croy spent the first two years of his coaching career at UC Riverside, working under the guidance of John Masi, one of the state's all-time leaders in victories. After leaving UC Riverside, Croy was named the associate head coach at Concordia University in Irvine, Calif., where he worked for Ken Ammann. As the lead recruiter, Croy's first recruiting class was instrumental in helping lead Concordia to their first-ever NAIA National Championship.

Croy returned to UC Riverside for the 2002-03 season as head coach John Masi's top assistant. At the age of 25 he was the youngest Division I top assistant coach in the country. His duties included on-floor coaching, recruiting, strength and conditioning, individual workouts and scouting.

A 1999 graduate of San Francisco State University, Croy ranks among the leaders in five categories at SFSU, and holds the school record for three point field goals (167). He is second in games played, third in assists and steals, and eighth in scoring. Croy was the leading scorer for SFSU in each of his final three seasons and was named to the All-California College Athletic Association (CCAA) team three times.

Croy is a graduate of Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, Calif., where he helped lead his team to the 1995 CIF State Championship. Before leaving Citrus College for Saint Mary's, Croy was the only community college head coach to win a high school state championship as a player, and a community college state championship as a head coach.

Croy earned a master's degree in physical education from Azusa Pacific University in 2000. Born July 19, 1977, Croy and his wife, Jamie, have a daughter, Kayden, and a son, James. His wife, Jamie, played basketball (1996-98) and volleyball (1998) at Saint Mary's.

Wednesday: two game reports + one game preview + links

Hey ACC, welcome to the WAC. Louisiana Tech took down Florida State 71-66 -- in Tallahassee -- last night, powered by Raheem Appleby's 27 points (12-19 shooting). Frosh guard Alex Hamilton contributed 16 points on 6-12 shooting. LT also pilfered 14 steals in the contest.

Bulldog athletics game reports.

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Denver bested Ohio University 61-57 with Brett Olson leading the way with 15 points and Cam Griffin posting a 14/10 double-double. Other interesting numbers: Coach Joe Scott's squad shot 54% but only went 15-29 at the foul line. Credit Denver with an amazing 10 blocked shots. Now it's Maryland on tap.

Pioneer athletics game reports as does Irv Moss.

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In the Lone Star State, Texas Arlington matches up with Oral Roberts in the CIT.  

Maverick athletics game previews.

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Forget rushing the court, Matt Sonnenberg wants to rush the calendar and rightly so.

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Jason Groves goes long in a Terrel de Rouen feature. JasonG also looks at how Coach Marvin Menzies is 'pressing' Sim Bhullar.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Who among the SJSU hopefuls can recruit from day one?

Seeing as how recruiting will be an immediate and foremost key to the San Jose State University basketball program attempting some sort of upward trajectory, who among the 'candidates' detailed earlier (granted, there are certainly others and these here are just guesses supplied by Spartan fans) can hit the proverbial ground running based upon current/previous experience?

* Assistant Bob Cantu of USC - yes

* Head Coach Joe Callero of Cal Poly - no (would need to dramatically elevate his aim)

* Assistant Paul Fortier of Washington - yes

* Assistant Justin Hutson of UNLV - yes

* Head Coach Greg Kamansky of Cal Poly Pomona - no (not sure how many scholarships he has available to use each year and, like Callero, he would be courting a vastly different talent pool)

* Ernie Kent - no (no longer involved in recruiting)

* Head Coach Don Monson of Long Beach State - yes (with some adjustment)

* Assistant Coach Eric Musselman of Arizona State - yes

* Assistant Craig Neal of New Mexico - probably yes (but not sure how much of an inroads the Lobos have in northern California///southern California is much more NM prospect territory)

* Head Coach Randy Rahe of Weber State - no (Big Sky recruiting is not even close to that of the Mountain West)

* Head Coach Joe Scott of Denver - no, (his typical recruiting level is far below the Mountain West and his team's style of play limits who he can and will recruit)

* Head Coach Wayne Tinkle of Montana no, (again, Big Sky recruiting is a universe away from Mountain West)

Tuesday: a bunch o' links

Denver and Ohio match up tonight in what should be a very good game -- do watch for backcourter D.J. Cooper. Irv Moss previews.

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From Jeff Borzello:

* New Mexico State is at 500-1 odds to win the 2013 NCAA Basketball Championship

* New Mexico State is at 75-1 odds to win the NCAA Midwest region

But hey, there are nine other Western Athletic Conference teams that would welcome those odds.

Jason Groves writes that through injuries and suspensions New Mexico State continued to move forward as other Aggies came to the fore. JasonG also has an article up about last season's Big Dance experience being one that this year's players are using as a learning experience.

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Matt Vines covers LA TECH readying to play Florida State.

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Shawn Harrison looks at the 'did USU want a post-season game or not' angle. Matt Sonnenberg delves into similar territory.

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Coach Scott Cross pens another letter to the Texas Maverick fan base.

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Rob Dauster offers his "Need To Know" regarding New Mexico State.

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Not directly WAC-related but here's a good read on basketball assistant coaches.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A second WAC coach let go

Jeff Goodman is reporting that Texas State has fired Coach Doug Davalos.

From another article:

...In six seasons Davalos compiled a 92-107 record at Texas State, the third-most wins in school history.

His best season was 2011-12, when the Bobcats were 16-16 and finished as Southland Conference West Division co-champions before moving to the Western Athletic Conference.

However, Davalos encouraged players to complete their studies, graduating 16 players...
Here is the release article from Texas State athletics.

Davalos will always have that 72-68 victory over Denver on March 14 in the Western Athletic Conference tournament. He and his guys also took down Seattle 68-56 in the game prior.

A disturbing senior moment

It was a game having zero effect in the conference standings and eventually became a 90-67 Senior Night loss. Yet the two remaining elder statesman on the San Jose State University men's basketball team were dishonored for fulfilling their commitment during trying times as neither was named a starter.

It's a basketball tradition to have your seniors among the opening five, even if for just a minute or two.

Regardless of convention, it's simply the right thing to do.

That is, if it's about the student-athletes.

We're not talking canonization or entrance to Mount Olympus yet LaVanne Pennington and Aalim Moor were denied this basic acknowledgement.

This despite their demonstrated loyalty, two years for Pennington, four from Moor.

Why did this not happen?

Both were certainly highly lauded at the time of their respective signings.

From Spartan athletics: "Lavanne is an active, high energy scoring guard-wing with good size. He plays with an edge and brings great intensity to both ends of the floor. Lavanne has D-I experience and was a major factor in Barstow JC's rise this season."

Also from Spartan athletics: "Aalim is a traditional point guard. He is a ‘table-setter’ and, definitely, a playmaker. His teams have had tremendous success,” the San Jose State coach states about Moor who was the catalyst for his team’s 2008 run to the California Division IV state championship game. Moor, who received recruiting inquiries from Pacific, USF, Santa Clara and San Diego, also has club experience playing for the Bay Area Hoosiers AAU team."

So on a foundation of these accolades, it was enduring losing seasons yet maintaining a positive personal spirit and insisting upon a team camaraderie amidst other players either quitting or misbehaving. From former Spartan Adrian Oliver on Instagram:


In the end, it became role models being snubbed.

The ultimate team-first guys were delivered the message that loyalty was directionally impaired.

It was an opportunity to dramatically underline that the chaos reaped for not performing in the classroom, misbehaving out of it and the sporting of me-me-me attitudes would be publicly shamed, with conscientiousness rewarded.

But the duo maintained regardless, displaying an integrity lacking in their adult mentors.

Moor and Pennington deserved better. In a fair and just world, a much more worthier Spartan experience hoops should and would have been theirs.

However, do not consider this a request for any sort of Senior Night favoritism.

In fact, it's just the opposite.

It's a call for rewarding behaviors and actions that rep San Jose State University in the brightest light possible.

Call it a sadly missed opportunity.

 "Last time ima wear this, last game home as a D1 hooper. Ups and downs, smiles and frowns..."

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Even during that final home game, it was a case of WTF.

Zeroing in on Moor, he played well against Texas San Antonio. Momentum was generated when he was in the game. But just as swiftly as impetus was provided, out came the hook, regardless of rhyme or reason, and back to the bench he went.

Reaching further backwards, on January 19 at New Mexico State, the Spartans lost again but he played strong:  ...Moor scored a career-best nine points on 4-of-5 shooting including his first made three-pointer of the year, had a block and a steal in 14 minutes of action...

He elicited this praise from his head coach: "..."Aalim really sparked us with confidence and poise.  I am really proud of the way he is handling his senior year.  He is a positive force on our team, and I am happy with the way he played and defended tonight."

January 24 was the next game versus league-leading Louisiana Tech and Moor's effort in another defeat produced this headline "More Than Moor Needed In 76-54 Loss To LA Tech" as he totaled a career-high 14 points on 6-12 shooting.

This is a young man who committed to San Jose State University and not in the "well, I guess I'll settle for SJSU," like some others who then demonstrated their half-hearted pledge through their behavior.

What he desired in an all-around college experience was met. It became something even deeper. Becoming an outright San Jose State University acolyte and an always positive ambassador was the road he traveled and the role he embraced.

Moor could have gone elsewhere prior to the tales that led him to Washington Square. Even after settling in, other suitors continued to call upon him.

But he became connected, maybe even more so off the basketball court. San Jose is his adopted community and Moor plans to stay here.

He is a proud Spartan student/athlete - soon-to-graduate - who to this day and extending forever will honor his alma mater by telling would-be students 'you will learn what you need to be successful there.'

Every summer (do check out this video link and then this link to the written article), Moor worked like the devil was two steps behind him to better his game and physicality. He returned improved. Whether opportunity would be allowed or not, this was another of his contributions because only the hardest workers can be positive examples and call out their teammate kin when necessary.

That was recognized by his teammates. They understood how hard he worked and how he brought value regardless of setting foot on the court. Moor was the most engaged player regardless of the minutes next to his name in the box score. He earned their respect.

Moor was honored with a Team Leadership award at a team dinner and awards ceremony in Adrian Oliver's senior season

My first recollection of Moor? It was in a gym in Las Vegas five years ago. What made him stand out as a member of the Bay Area Hoosiers club team was his court vision and basketball IQ. In that game, he threw passes to where he wanted his teammates to be -- passes that put them in position for layups and open shots. He didn't put the ball where they were initially but the spot they needed to get to in order to succeed. It was a remarkable display of ball wizardry but, even more so, leadership.

But the latter was evident way back in high school.

His goal is to enter graduate school at San Jose State University upon finishing with a B.A. in Communications and a minor in Business in May. Will the next coach utilize him as both a role model and teacher by having him on the staff as a graduate assistant?

Yes, if a smart and opportunistic move is desired. Class requires classy actions.

Meanwhile, let's never forget this image because he will never let down San Jose State University -- he's Spartan bred:


NCAA Coach of the Year

Jason King/ESPN recently listed candidate rankings for Coach of the Year.

FYI, here are the voters: Eamonn Brennan, Andy Katz, Jason King, Myron Medcalf, Dana O'Neil and King.

Their votes produced this:

1. Jim Larranaga, Miami - 46 (3)
2. Jim Crews, Saint Louis - 40 (1)
3. John Thompson III, Georgetown - 39
4. Buzz Williams, Marquette - 21 (1)
5. Bruce Weber, Kansas State - 17
6. Dana Altman, Oregon - 16
7. Tom Crean, Indiana - 16
8. Tom Izzo, Michigan State - 14
9. Kevin Ollie, Connecticut - 10
10. Steve Alford, New Mexico - 12

Others receiving votes: Gregg Marshall, Wichita State 7; Bo Ryan, Wisconsin, 7; Mark Few, Gonzaga 6; Mike Krzyzewski, Duke 6; Bill Self, Kansas 4; Billy Donovan, Florida 4; Larry Eustachy, Colorado State 4; John Beilein, Michigan 3; John Groce, Illinois 1.
What's intriguing is that just two black coaches appear through the Top 10 plus the nine others. Consider the percentage of blacks who play the sport in college and the number of assistant coaches on the various collegiate staffs and, well, the number listed above is miniscule.

Why so involves a plethora of factors with the primary one being black coaches are selected to head so few top level programs. Why that is also involves a multitude of factors.

There is John Thompson at Georgetown and, of course, his hiring was aided by the success and stature of his father which is important to note is not intended to diminish the success Thompson the younger achieved at Princeton.

Kevin Ollie has done a very admirable job, a position he was rewarded with after a lengthy stretch as Jim Calhoun's top assistant.

Shaka Smart at Virginia Commonwealth is not listed and that's appropriate although he didn't inherit a successful program. He and his staff built one but VCU is still not considered a blue chipper destination.

There's also Frank Haith at Missouri and Tubby Smith with Minnesota unlisted although the latter, while a Big 10 member, isn't necessarily in the status of an elite program. Missouri is a tough call.

Mike Hopkins has been duly noted as Jim Boeheim's successor at Syracuse but no retirement date seems to be on the latter's horizon and 'Cuse is also absent above..

Let's look at the current Mid-Major Top 25:

1.     Gonzaga
2.     Middle Tennessee    
3.     Wichita State   
4.     Saint Mary's    
5.     Akron    
6.     Belmont  
7.     Louisiana Tech   
8.     Stephen F. Austin
9.     Bucknell       
10.   Davidson     
11.   Creighton         
12.   Valparaiso       
13.   Murray State    
14.   Montana        
15.   BYU       
16.   Denver      
17.   Ohio       
18.   Weber State       
19.   Stony Brook       
20.   South Dakota State    
21.   Western Illinois   
22.   Detroit    
23.   Lehigh   
24.   Harvard  
25.   Norfolk State

Only Detroit, Harvard and Norfolk State have black head coaches when seemingly the odds of being a minority and hired to run a program at this level are better.

Now how many black athletic directors are there at top tier colleges or even at the mid major level?

Those statistics are even worse.

Monday: all sorts of goodies

Jason Groves  reports it's St. Louis in San Jose Thursday for New Mexico State. So much better than Colonel Mustard with the candlestick in the conservatory.

JasonG also provides video of the announcement.

Interesting JasonG tweet: "Because of Sim Bhullar and the way they defend NMSU is better prepared this year for a NCAA win more than Menzies previous teams IMO"

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Louisiana Tech will be hitting Tallahassee to face Florida State on Tuesday as part of the NIT. Matt Vines also covers this. Taking down an ACC team would be quite the proverbial feather in the cap.

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Denver is also NIT-ing, at home versus Ohio University on Tuesday.

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Texas Arlington is CIT bound, playing host to Oral Roberts on Wednesday.

A tweet from Crimson Illustrated: "MBB: Speaking of UTA, other than NMSU's coaching staff, I honestly feel UTA has the next best coaching staff. They'll be a contender"

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Even when coaches win it isn't enough for some

Isn't it interesting that some (numbers unknown) New Mexico State basketball fans were for running Coach Marvin Menzies out of town pronto after early season losses to Bucknell and Niagara, then a one-point fall at Texas El Paso, a 15-point defeat at the hands of New Mexico in The Pit plus a five point defeat in Las Cruces four days later to those same Lobos.

These fans (an assumption) are now writing that Menzies is cool although he still isn't pulling every lever and at the appropriate time if they were running the team (as if they are 100% with every work place decision they make everyday).

C'mon. the guy has won two WAC championships in a row. Do you really require water turned into wine? Or is a twofer the bottom line, like sight for the blind also?

Can't you see it -- 'dammit, we wanted the wine yesterday, not today.'

Sunday: a look back plus more

Kyle Ringo writes about New Mexico State's triumph.

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Mr. Bhullar is now the frontrunner in the next election for mayor in Las Cruces -- the young female demographic is, um, wrapped up.

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Jason Groves has post-game video of Bandja Sy and K.C. Ross-Miller.

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Shawn Harrison takes another look at Utah State's final loss.

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Texas State Sports lauds the efforts of Joel Wright
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Saturday, March 16, 2013

We have a repeat WAC champion: New Mexico State

New Mexico State and Texas Arlington went at it tonight in Las Vegas for the WAC tournament championship and a Big Dance slot.

NMSU jumped out to an early lead but the Mavericks recovered and the score was 32-30 in favor of the Aggies at the half. Center Sim Bhullar already posted a double-double -- 10 points and 10 boards -- after 20 minutes with Kevin Butler sitting on 10 points for TA.

Coach Marvin Menzies' squad then went up 37-30. It was 51-40 with 11:24 remaining and, at the three-minute mark, there was a four point difference, 55-51.

The final score: 64-55 New Mexico State so the Aggies are Big Dancin'.

Bhullar finished with a 16 point, 15 rebound night and Daniel Mullings also tallied 16.

Butler completed the night at 13 points plus 10 boards but shot 5-17 overall.

It was not a particularly sharp shooting evening for either team. The Aggies accuracy: 43% 31% and 61%. The Mavs were at 39%, 23% and 73%.

Note the free throw attempt margin: 20-33 for NMSU, 8-11 by the Texans.

NMSU also owned the boards, 41-29.

Jason Groves live-tweeted the matchup and here are his pre-game keys to the kingdom plus a prediction.

Bleed Crimson is all over the contest, with print and video and Maverick athletics also game reports. The Mile High Mids twitter account serves up a number of photos.

Bhullar was named the tournament MVP. The other members of the All Touranment team:

* Joel Wright, Texas State

* Kevin Butler, UT Arlington

* Karol Gruszecki, UT Arlington

* Daniel Mullings, New Mexico State

So who will be next at SJSU?

Will it be sacrificial lamb or saviour next in the proverbial barrel as the new San Jose State University head basketball coach?

Only time can answer such a question but, as expected, there sure are a lot of names being bandied about on the various message boards.

Try:

* Assistant Bob Cantu of USC

He was working miracles at USC until the last few games, certainly knows and is known in the Spartan recruiting territories, so maybe. He's outlived a number of USC coaches so whoever is the new guy for the Trojans may just keep him. The Cal State Fullerton job is now open and landing Cantu would be a very good pickup for the Titans.

* Head Coach Joe Callero of Cal Poly

 He has inserted life into the Mustang program and did well previously at Seattle.

* Assistant Paul Fortier of Washington

With a Pac-12 Washington pedigree, a lengthy history of playing overseas and -- don't discount this factor -- being a Bay Area native, there's a lot to like.

* Assistant Justin Hutson of UNLV

No track record as a head coach but current involvement with the Running Rebels and San Diego State prior to that, plus recruiting chops -- it's hard to find a negative.

* Head Coach Greg Kamansky of Cal Poly Pomona

A Coach K in San Jose sounds tantalizing but will the hiring of a D-II winner initially produce energy within a moribund fanbase?

* Ernie Kent of...

If you can't succeed at Phil Knight U with all those resources ...

* Head Coach Don Monson of Long Beach State

Yes, it would be a major step up in conference but he just may soon be getting both better ($$$) and more attractive (renovations versus having to lay a foundation from which to build) scenarios to rescue.

* Assistant Coach Eric Musselman of Arizona State

With a lengthy family history of coaching, he was the head coach of the Warriors and the Kings NBA franchises and has family in the East Bay. There wouldn't be anyone scratching their heads and asking who is this guy? Imagine the press coverage from the get-go.

* Assistant Craig Neal of New Mexico

Only if he brings his son (who has signed with St. Mary's) -- just kidding. He certainly would need a vaccine to act as an antidote to the facility shock he would encounter. Neal interviewed for the Colorado State opening last year that went to Larry Eustachy.

* Head Coach Randy Rahe of Weber State

The Mountain West is attractive but right now or with maybe one more very successful season, he just may not need to hire on at lower-than-low in standing program. He was 'involved' in the Colorado State opening -- not sure if he interviewed. His Weber contract runs through 2017 but who knows if it contains a poison pill.

* Head Coach Joe Scott of Denver

Every coach will listen but how many will depart from being a top championship contender in a new league next season?

* Head Coach Wayne Tinkle of Montana

All he does is win championships and go to the Big Dance despite never having major talent. But the Big Sky Conference is not the Mountain West. Tinkle interviewed for the Fresno State opening but later withdrew -- Texas assistant Rodney Terry got the job. His daughter plays basketball at Stanford where she is a senior.

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Whoever it turns out to be, it cannot be a retread. Winning the press conference is an essential first step and hiring someone fired from another college head coaching position attaches unnecessary distraction to any announcement of a new coach.

The choice also needs to be someone familiar with West Coast prospects so he and his staff can jump into recruiting mode with the least learning curve time possible.

So who will it be and when will the white smoke be seen floating over Washington Square?

When Gene Bleymeier is ready. If his candidate is free and clear now, it will be soon. If that person is on a staff with games still to play, it will be later. This will more than likely be Bleymaier's last big coaching hire and he would love to go down as the athletics director who f-i-n-a-l-l-y rescued SJSU basketball.

But every day missed is a lost recruiting day and that is figuratively and literally the life blood of any program.

This is magnified in SJSU's case as an injection of talent is a mandatory initial step.

We say go big, or truly don't bother.

The championship game preview

So the battle for the WAC championship is between New Mexico State and Texas Arlington. Game time is tonight at 8 p.m. and will be shown on ESPNU.

On December 29 at home, the Mavericks took down the Aggies 68-47, holding the Las Cruces crew to 33% shooting. Daniel Mullings scored 21 poins for NMSU but Bandja Sy went 1-6 and Tyrone Watson 1-7. 

In Las Cruces on March 9, New Mexico State won 69-66, shooting 46% as a team to 38% for Texas Arlington. Sy led with both 19 points and nine rebounds that night and Watson was out with his ankle injury. Coach Marvin Menzies' bunch went to the foul line 35 times, making 25.

These teams surprisingly do seem even even though the Aggies won three more/the Mavericks had three more losses in conference play. 'Surprisingly' is used because it's New Mexico State with the most lauded players -- WAC First, Second and Third Team player honorees versus a single Third Teamer.

One possible key to watch for: can Watson go in this one?

There is usually never a single element that the game is decided upon but it looks like New Mexico State can put up the greater number of points IF both teams are playing equal defensively. NMSU shot 47% in league play to 41% for the Mavericks while allowing opponents to make 41% of attempts to Texas Arlington's league-leading 39%.

Jason Groves looks at the Arlington-ites.

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Kyle Goon reports that Utah State is likely done for the season in order to give the wounded some rest and time for earlier surgeries.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Late Friday night: two game reports

Tonight, the WAC tournament opened with New Mexico State and Texas State facing off. The Aggies won both meetings earlier this season with Bandja Sy leading the way each time.

At halftime, it was Coach Marvin Menzies' crew with a 41-32 lead. The southern Aggies then burst out ahead 51-35 but the Bobcats closed to five with seven minutes remaining. However, that was it as New Mexico State won 74-65.

Oh yes: Sy went for seven points (four shots) plus nine rebounds -- so much for that angle and Daniel Mullings added six points, again on just four attempts.

It was Sim Bhullar leading a true team effort with 14 points, 10 boards and a trio of blocked shots while Renaldo Dixon totaled 13 points, K.C. Ross-Miller 12 (plus five assists versus a single TO) and Remi Barry 11 points. NMSU shot 49% for the game but misfired on 15 free throws at 22-37.

Texas State shot just 36% as a team with Joel Wright's 17 points (6-14 shooting) and 11 rebounds pacing the Bobcats. Backcourter Deonte Jones connected on 4-6 from three-point range to finish with 16 points. Matt Staff contributed 13 points.

Jason Groves and Tyler Mayforth live-tweeted the matchup. Mayforth also blogged his take after 20 minutes were in the proverbial books.

Check out JasonG's keys and prediction.

Aggie athletics and Bobcat athletics game report as do JasonG and TylerM. Bleed Crimson offers post-game video.

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The later-in-the-evening pairing involved Texas San Antonio matching up with Texas Arlington. 280 or so miles separates the two cities and 16 points differentiated the winning Mavericks from the losing Roadrunners at game's end, 69-53.

It was 6-foot-5 forward Karol Gruszecki going 5-10 from long distance to lead Coach Scott Cross' guys to the victory with 19 points. 6-foot-2 sophomore guard Jamel Outler added 13 (3-6 within three-point range) and senior mainstay Kevin Butler scored 10 points and topped TA with seven rebounds. The Mavericks shot 51% overall, 43% (9-21) on trey attempts and 6-9 from the free throw line.

For the Roadrunners, it was 35% overall shooting, 31% (9-29) from distance and 8-15 at the charity stripe. Forward Jeromie Hill was tops with 17 points with guard Jordan Sims posting 12 on his collection of four treys. Coach Brooks Thompson's mainstay backcourters Kannon Burrage finished with nine points on 3-12 shooting and Michael Hale III totaled six points due to 2-10 marksmanship.

The score was 33-20 in favor of TA at the half.

For the contest, Arlington totaled 34 points in the paint to 14 for San Antonio.

Mile High Mids live -tweeted the duet.

Maverick athletics and Roadrunner athletics game report as does Jerry Briggs.

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Butterfield to have surgery

Utah State just lost in the Western Athletic Conference tournament and this was tweeted by Salt Lake Tribune beat reporter Kyle Goon: "Spencer Butterfield getting ready for hip surgery..."

The young man scored 19 points and nabbed six rebounds in the defeat.

Amazing.

Here is what Butterfield recently tweeted: "Thks for all the support srry we let u down but I promise were guna come back nxt year a dominant team. No more disappointments"

Also for Friday: two game previews + more links

It's another night for fittin' slippers as the Lone Star State has a trio of teams in the WAC Final Four. Yep, don't mess with Texas.

Tonight begins with New Mexico State and Texas State going at it beginning at 6 p.m.

On January 5 in Las Cruces, the Aggies won 78-67 behind 22 points from Daniel Mullings, 20 from Sim Bhullar plus a 16/10 double-double from Bandja Sy. Joel Wright produced 17 points and Deonte' Jones 15 for the Bobcats. NMSU shot 54% for the game.

That same month on night 31, Coach Marvin Menzies' guys won 86-72 in Arlington. Sy led in both categories with 24/13, Mullings scored 22 and Bhullar totaled 10 and nine. Center Matt Staff led TS with a 20 point/10 rebound double-double with Corey Stern tallying nine points. Wright shot just 3-18 and totaled 14.

Aggie athletics previews as does Jason Groves. JasonG also provides an Idao  post-game interview with Daniel Mullings. Bleed Crimson is also all over the victory over the Vandals.

From the Bobcat perspective, Tyler Mayforth checks in.

It's hard to believe more magic will be in the air but how many thought there would be any before the start of the tournament? Can Texas State silence Sy, or at least mute him to a degree?

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Then at 8:30, it's duelin' Texans as Texas San Antonio matches up with Texas Arlington. The Mavericks won 75-67 on January 6 in San Antone plus 68-63 on February 9 at home. Kannon Burrage has 22 points and Michael Hale III 18 in the latter with Kevin Butler's 17 pacing the victors. His teammates Greg Gainey and Shaq White-Miller both totaled 13.

In the earlier matchup, Jordan Reves went for 21 points for the Alamo-ites versus 17 by Burrage, 16 from Larry Wilkins and Hale's 15.

Call this a toss-up but it's hard not to favor the defense played by the Mavericks.

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Kyle Goon and some of the Utah State players look back.

John Blanchette whacks the WAC.

Friday: four game reports + more

The returning champion Aggies opened Thursday against Idaho and New Mexico State led by four, 32-28, at the half. It took a while but Coach Marvin Menzies and his guys gradually pulled away to take the game 65-49, denying Coach Don Verlin his first WAC tourney win. The Vandals did narrow the margin to eight at the 3:30 mark but could get no closer. 

Jason Groves live-tweeted the matchup as did Vandal Nation.

Daniel Mullings shot 10-14 from the floor on his way to a team-leading 24 points. Teammate Bandja Sy posted a solid 14 point/seven rebound effort and center Sim Bhullar finished with 7/7.

For the Potato Staters, Kyle Barone scored 19 points, shooting 8-10 from the floor while nabbing five boards. Connor Hill was also accurate with 14 points on 5-11 shooting. However, Mansa Habeeb, Stephen Madison and Mike McChristian opposited 'en fuego' with a combined 3-17 overall.

The most dramatic contrast: NMSU shot 60%, Idaho 40%. Yes, the Aggies were a paltry 7-16 from the foul line but the Vandals were a frigid 3-19 in long distance attempts.

Tyrone Watson did sit this one out due to an ankle injury.

Aggie athletics and Vandal athletics game report as do Jason Groves and Christian Caple.

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Then it was Denver taking on Texas State and yes, there was seismic hoops activity today centered in Nevada -- Las Vegas in particular -- as the final horn sounded with the Bobcats at 72 and the Pioneers with 68. TS led 37-32 after the initial 20 minutes.

If hurricanes and now storms are receiving names, then this one was Earthquake Joel (Wright). The junior forward exploded for 32 points on a remarkably efficient 10 shots (going 9-10) plus 14-16 at the foul line. The Bobcats shot 23-35 overall (13-20 in the first half and 10-15 in the second period), 3-6 from long distance and 23-28 at the foul line. On the other side, Denver was 21-52, 10-28 and 16-18. Sophomore backcourter Brett Olson led with 19 points with fellow backcourter and freshman Jalen Love finishing with 17. Coach Joe Scott's guys finished at 50% shooting in WAC regular season play, holding opponents to 42% so those numbers went haywire.

The most remarkable stat: just three assists on 23 baskets for the victorious Lone Star Staters.

Bobcat athletics and Pioneer athletics game report as does Ross Lancaster/Mile High Mids.

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Next, Louisiana Tech and Texas San Antonio took to the court at 6 p.m. and out came a version of "Groundhog Day" with Tuesday night's pair of wins by Texas teams being matched: TSA 73, LT 67. The Bulldogs led 31-29 after the first 20 but Coach Brooks Thompson's crew came back to post a second half 44-36 point differential. Call it a victory via military hardware as senior backcourter Kannon Burrage pounded away with 26 points and 13 rebounds, including 5-8 from three-point range. Michael Hale III contributed 17 points and Jeromie Hill contributed 11 and eight.

Kenneth Smith paced the Bulldogs with 16 points with fellow guard Raheem Appleby adding 11 points (but on 4-17 overall shooting). Noteworthy was Michale Kyser's nine points, eight boards and four blocked shots in 25 minutes of play.

Texas San Antonio shot 46% overall, 54% in the second 20 minutes to just 32% for Louisiana Tech, which at 74, enjoyed 20 more shot attempts. The Bulldogs finished at 8-33 from long distance.  As expected due to the number of missed shots, the Roadrunners won the boards battle 48-35 but finished upside down in turnovers at 6/18. It looks like Coach Mike White's team could not connect enough and got backcourted offensively.

Bulldog athletics and Roadrunner athletics game report as does Roy Lang III.

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Closing out the night, Texas Arlington - a two-time winner over the Aggies during the regular season -- met Utah State and burst out to an early lead, finishing the first 20 minutes ahead 40-29. The northern Aggies edged closer but couldn't break through and lost 83-78, thus making it a Texas team trifecta.

Four Mavericks shot well: Kevin Butler at 23 points (8-13), Karol Gruszecki with 17 (4-9 from long distance) and 12 apiece for Jordan Reves (5-6) and Cameron Catlett (5-10). Coach Scott Cross' players shot 31-60 overall, 10-23 from three-point range.

Utah State was paced by Jarred Shaw's 20 points plus nine boards, with Spencer Butterfield right behind at 19/6. Ben Clifford lived past the three-point line, nailing 4-5 on his way to 16 points. TeNale Roland also totaled 16. USU overall shot a blazing 58% at 25-43, including 9-19 from distance. Coach Stew Morrill's team also connected on eight more free throws than the Texans but were guilty of eight more TOs.

Texas State won the points-in-the-paint scrum 34-22 and managed 21 points off turnovers to just six for Utah State.

Kyle Goon live-tweeted the contest.

Maverick athletics game reports as do Jerry Briggs, Mike Sorenson, Kyle Goon and Rhett Wilkinson.

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Additionally:

Jerry Brewer talked with Seattle Coach Cameron Dollar after the Redhawks defeat on Wednesday and some brutal self-honesty resulted.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thursday: four game previews

It's defending tournament champion New Mexico State going at it with Idaho at noon to open the day's matchups. The 2012-13 season history: the Aggies won 71-70 on January 12 in Moscow and then 76-74 February 7 in Las Cruces so the Vandals obviously play as well against the Aggies as anyone in the conference.

FYI: Kyle Barone produced 18/10 and then 26/7 to Sim Bhullar's 16/6 and 20/5 in those two contests. But watch for Connor Hill who enjoyed 17 points and then 21 -- his 'en fuego-ness' opens up the court for his teammates.

Aggie athletics and Vandal athletics game preview as do Josh Wright and Jason Groves. JasonG checks in with a look at the primary Aggie contributors. JasonG also features Sim Bhullar.

As for injuries and the like, Tyrone Watson's sprained ankle is a concern and apparently a game time decision.

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Then it's Denver taking on Texas State. On January 3, the Pioneers won 64-53 in the Mile High City and then 79-64 in San Marcos on February 2. It can't be praised enough: the Mile High City guys are 17-1 in their last 18 outings.

Pioneer athletics and Bobcat athletics game preview as does Mile High Mids. MHM is living large in Sin City. Irv Moss looks at the streaking Pioneers.

No injuries or player absences have been reported although Denver's Blake Foeman is enduring a balky back.

Coach Joe Scott is up for a mid-major coaching honor.

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Next, Louisiana Tech and Texas San Antonio do or die.

It was a close one, 73-71, in San Antone for the first meeting this season of these two squads, followed by a 74-49 February 7 blasting in Ruston. Figure that out. Can LT re-focus after two straight losses? Is TSA the team of destiny in this tourney?

Bulldog athletics and Roadrunner athletics game preview. Jerry Briggs also checks in.

No player injuries or the like are reported.

Coach Mike White is the recipient of a coaching award.

+++++

Closing out play, Utah State mixes it up with a Texas Arlington bunch who won in Logan 74-68 on January 24 and then again March 2 in Arlington 61-46. The Mavs benefited from emergency adjustments to USU player absences in both games so this is really a new get-together for these two teams. If there is a wild card player to zero in on, try forward Brandon Edwards of the Mavs. His numbers haven't been big of late but he boards very well and scores inside based on his rebounding.

Aggie athletics and Maverick athletics game preview as does Mike Sorenson, Shawn Harrison, Timothy R. Olsen, Kyle Goon and Rhett Wilkinson.

Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed remain injured and out for USU. Ditto for Danny Berger. Spencer Butterfield is hurting but will start -- just don't dare call him a hipster.

Matt Glade/KSL heads down tournament memory lane for Aggie hoops.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Can anyone make SJSU men's basketball relevant?

So San Jose State University will now have the opportunity to select a new men's basketball coach.

The best thing about this news is the individual who is selected will actually be the very best candidate for the job in the mind of the top athletics official -- contrary to what has held back SJSU basketball for decades -- as AD Gene Bleymaier appears unconnected to any 'coaching families' and thus will be free of binding entanglements.

He selected Leon Rice from Gonzaga when last having the opportunity to hire a new hoops leader and Rice has the Boise State Broncos on the at-large cusp of the Big Dance with victories over San Diego State, UNLV, Creighton and Colorado State this season, in this, his third at the helm. Rice's top three scorers are all backcourters so he's doing it minus a plus big man and in one of the top three conferences in the country this season. All of this is promising if Bleymaier's not-too-distant basketball past is prologue.

But one of the unfortunate yet most relevant and fair questions facing the SJSU AD, boosters and fans is can anyone heading the men's basketball program win more games than he loses?

It's actually a difficult question to answer.

There is a complete absence of positive proof of such in the past because nobody has reached this achievement for decades and decades.

Granted, it seems there HAS to be someone, considering the ratio of individuals available for the position, who can succeed at this job.

Right?

So why hasn't success happened?

Is it all simply the result of incestuously inadequate choices?

That's a major contributing factor but absolutely not the only one and shouldn't be utilized as the sole damning evidence. 

Just as important is the void in infrastructure and especially financial support (within the institution itself and outside of it) which is a necessity in making the odds of success actually viable.

All of these have been integral factors in preventing the hiring of the right individual for the job.

Bottomline, the position of head basketball coach should not have to include miracle worker as a prerequisite skill.

But it should include a competitive hiring salary, as well as a similar range for assistant coaches, plus a recruiting budget that is at least in the middle of those of other Mountain West Conference teams plus an increase in the number of out-of-state scholarships available to fill.

Are those dollars available?

If not, then look for the same old- same old.

So who will step up in order to make all this financially happen?

It's the easy way out to say that AD Bleymaier must be willing and able to do this. He will if such an option is financially within his purse strings.

Critical to the potential of a new head coach is the luring back of the major boosters who have forsaken SJSU hoops AND the development of many more.

The former can happen, at least to a major degree if the 'right' person is selected, the latter will be based on that 'right' individual winning games.

But AD Bleymaier must absolutely act on two other important elements.

1) Assign an administrator to men's basketball not merely to monitor the program but to decisively step in and provide guidance when it is necessary -- no more slow-to-react (if at all) interventions when accountability is desperately needed. No, this is not a call for micromanaging but with a program history of a player revolt, a trifecta collection of DUI arrests for a coach hired not once but twice, another coach who just quit showing up, player disappearances plus the endless losing, men's basketball has too long been a program of zero expectations. The long and sad litany of student-athletes on the teams have deserved so much better than what they received.

2) Any contract for a new coach must also be structured with two critical components: it must heavily reward success but also protect the university, and ultimately the taxpayer, against a coach producing dismal results. It is the way of the world in contracts yet coaches and corporate CEOs are the only ones who seem to escape accountability for awful results and yet get rewarded handsomely.

So can the wins arrive before any major external money does?

Miss Cleo's phone number has been disconnected so the best that can be offered is it's going to be fascinating.

The existence of SJSU men's basketball is riding on it.