What SJS Basketball May be in 2017-18
Yeah, just maybe. The madness is in full swing and I want to talk about the future? Well, it looks pretty bright for the Spartans. The MWC is a one bid conference and deserves it. AND, you saw what happened to Nevada against Iowa State. One and done.
If you consider what the Spartans have done in the past five years or so, it is surprising they have a program at all. San Jose State fans have suffered with losing for years. Football, basketball, and baseball seemed to have held the MWC on their collective shoulders. It’s hard to argue with fans of other member schools when they suggest kicking out the Spartans. Football has a new coach as does baseball. Too early to tell what the seasons will bring for those two. Basketball has had Dave Wojcik for four seasons and the team has shown growth each of his years at the helm.
Earlier I had written a post where I suggested that maybe the Spartans might reach .500 this season. I was close at 14-16 but the record was still a disappointment to many. The Spartans entered some games as a favorite and would get demolished. Others they would be a decided underdog and either win the game or stay close in losing. That defines inconsistency.
So, where was the growth? Number one has to be the Spartans pride and joy, Brandon Clarke. As a freshman in 2016-17 he was the MWC’s Sixth Man of the Year. Boy, did he improve as he made first team All-MWC this past season and there was little argument. He averaged 17.3 ppg and 8.7 rpg but his outstanding stat was blocked shots. He had 77 blocks for the season which was 56 more than the the number two guy on the team. If he grows at this current pace he could be really something next year. I’ve posted previously that his shortcomings are when he’s a bit away from the basket on offense. He doesn’t have much of a shot so I’m sure he’s working on mid-range jumpers as well as free throws. That will come.
The other sophomores on the team showed maturity also. Ryan Welage averaged 13.2 ppg but still is very thin and I suspect that won’t change. A walk-on freshman also opened some eyes as Terrell Brown only started to make his presence felt late in the season. He averaged 7.2 ppg and I think that as well as playing time will increase dramatically next season. He also has to get better at taking care of the ball. These two plus Clarke could be the heart of the team next season.
Where will the Spartans need help? I thought the guard play for the most part was not very good both on offense and defense. Other than Clarke, inside play was a bit weak also. The team can shoot threes but mid-range shots and layups were not a big part of their game. Rebounding will also have to improve. I think work in the off season will help in all areas. Yeah, all areas.
One incoming freshman should offer help. Noah Baumann, a 6’5” wing from the same school in Arizona that produced Brandon Clarke, is the lone recruit. He averaged 10.2 ppg and 3.5 rpg. Not outstanding numbers, to be sure but he is being projected as a shooting guard and his size says that’s about right. He’s rated as a two star so it’s a wait and see situation with him. In fact, that’s what we’ll have to do with the team.