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San Jose State basketball races by South Dakota

Up by 19 then by 3 = 9-point Spartan win 

SJSU center Ibrahima Diallo vs. South Dakota Coyotes, Nov. 30, 2021
photo by: Terrell Lloyd

San Jose State (3-3) kept the lead 98% of the time over the South Dakota Coyotes (4-3) in a 61-52 win, but as with the typical ebb and flow of a game, things still got really rough.

“We started missing inside shots. We had four or six shots right at the rim and missed them all and it all goes wrong,” said head coach Tim Miles on withstanding the Coyotes 16-0 run in the middle of the second half. “Their physicality gets us on our heels and the lead goes from 19 all the way down to three.”

But strangely enough, Miles considers it the right growing pains to go through at this point early in the season.

“You could see at the under eight-minute timeout, the lead was under seven and our body language was not good,” continued Miles on the second half woes. “Guys were stressed and frustrated, but it’s a good problem to have and that’s what I told them in the timeout, ‘The only thing that matters is what we do from this timeout to the next immediate timeout.’”

Spartans’ advantages not always so

The Spartans clearly had length and athleticism over South Dakota, but as has shown in previous games, opponents with bulk and strength can hold out and completely counter San Jose’s advantages.

“Tonight, we went with the bigger lineup, but it didn’t work out when Trey Anderson got into foul trouble,” said Miles. “I think we’re going to need to play a lineup with Shon (Robinson), Trey (Anderson), Ibrahima (Diallo) and then our two guards Omari (Moore) and Trey (Smith). And Tibet could be one of those guards too.”

South Dakota, a D1 team from the Summit Conference, had been thinly favored to beat the Spartans by most odds-makers. Relatively speaking, the Coyotes could be in the middle band of Mountain West strength, as South Dakota also recently beat Air Force.

Bargaining space, smargaining space

The 1,181 in attendance at the SJS Event Center saw something unexpected as well when the Spartans dominated for long stretches of the game.

“We had some strong performances in each half that got us out in front and bought us some bargaining space,” said Miles, “But talking to some of the guys after the game, I asked, ‘How’d you play?’

“Not very good, coach,” shared Miles’ family-friendly response from his players. “And it’s true. It’s always good to win and we’ve got plenty to improve on and we did not have a complete team effort. But we did enough right things for long enough periods of time to come out with a victory.”

Sophomore guard Omari Moore scored 18 points on 7-16 from the field to lead the Spartans followed by freshman forward Tibet Gorener’s 14 points.

Emotional management

As Miles manages the emotional ups and downs of such a game, it also became clear his young team is still in early gel mode six games in.

“South Dakota sees us at our worse. So, what happens? They’re gonna make a run,” said Miles on sharing exactly what he’s telling the players. “So, what are we emotional about. It is what it is. Let’s figure out how to re-calibrate and get back going again.”

Some of Miles’ lineups also still look like a work in progress, while other lineup mixes look a bit clunky.

“I’m still looking for a lineup of death so-to-speak for our best lineup,” said Miles on what might be his speed lineup, rebounding lineup, death lineup, etc. “Certainly, it looks like our two guards, Omari and Trey (Smith), with Tibet and any three of the other bigs has been pretty good for us, but we have to get Alvaro, Josh and Caleb going and we have to get guys healthy.”

Miles also had noted Richard Washington, who led the Mountain West in scoring with 19.5 points per game last season, did not win the appeal to play this season after participating in a non-sanctioned tournament.

This Friday, San Jose State faces the other Dakota from the North.