By Mohamed Bafakih (@MohamedABafa ):
It’s incredible what a difference a year can make.
For San Jose State’s men’s basketball program, it went from being a 7-5 team heading into conference play last season to 3-8 this time around.
Inconsistency has haunted the Spartans, and it’s an issue head coach Jean Prioleau hasn’t been tight-lipped about.
Whether you point to the thumps the Spartans suffered on the road, or the wins they edged off against Idaho State and Santa Clara, it’s difficult to think Prioleau would say his team has played a complete game.
On defense at least, SJSU has proved it can compete. The Spartans are allowing 69.3 ppg, shoving them in the middle of the Mountain West in that category.
Additionally, the Spartans led the conference in the rebounding margin as they outrebounded opponents by an average of 8.1 per game.
On the flip side, the offense is why SJSU has only produced three wins through 11 games. \
Averaging a conference-low 67.1 ppg, combined with turning the ball over more than any other MW team — it’s a recipe for disaster.
Simply put, the Spartans don’t have enough firepower on offense to combat their efforts on defense.
The Mountain West’s third leading scorer Ryan Welage (18 ppg) is why they’ve been competitive more times than not, but as conference play begins, the role of other players has to increase.
SJSU is the only team in the conference to not have multiple double-digit scorers.
The team’s second leading scorer, Keith Fisher (9 ppg) just had a career high 15 points accompanied by 10 rebounds against the Broncos on Dec. 21. That’s what SJSU needs on a consistent basis from the highly talented Fisher.
His presence, along with the unexpected return of Brandon Mitchell, gives the Spartans length and versatility in the frontcourt.
SJSU opens up MW play on the road where they are 1-5 this season against Utah State Wednesday night.
Going up against the conference’s fourth lowest scoring team (74.1 ppg), this is a perfect tone-setting opponent.
Utah State is the same team that kicked the Spartans out of the Mountain West tournament back in March, falling 90-64 en route to their 20th straight loss against the Aggies.
If there is one thing that’s clear, getting the monkey off their back of losing to the same team 20 times in a row, and doing it to begin conference play, in addition to a second straight road win, that’s killing multiple birds with one stone.
The ball goes up at 6 p.m.