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San Jose State men’s basketball pulse check

It was only a September practice, but what a day and night difference from previous seasons

photo by: Vic Aquino

Wandering onto an empty college campus on a Friday afternoon to check out a basketball practice for the first time since the big change at the helm with newly minted head coach Tim Miles was about what I expected and mostly not.

Since first meeting Miles virtually back in June, his energy and candidness immediately hit you. He was so much at ease with an array of wide and far questions that needed two separate articles on two different publications to give it some justice.

MWCConnection basketball coverage on Miles’ arrival and the potential for San Jose to finally have a worthy college basketball presence posted on Newsbreak.com provided the color and introduction on Miles.

What was absolutely different right away on this Friday afternoon was the genuine welcome Miles offered to this small-scale writer. It literally was a continuation of the discussion we started back in June.

From Miles’ son electing to complete his remaining high school year in Nebraska to his daughter’s experience at a local community college in San Jose to the way he’s loving the Willow Glen area in San Jose more and more, Miles flowed through the latest updates.

Without skipping a beat, Miles transition game moved on to described each player on his new roster, as they made their way up and down the court.

“There’s Ibrahima Diallo, a transfer from Ohio State,” said Miles, “He’s wearing that mask to protect a broken nose and oh, his wingspan is 7’7” and there’s Tibet Gorener from Turkey who came from the Arizona Wildcats. Tibet really impressed at the FIBA U19 World Cup.”

Miles continued, “Right there is Trey Anderson who came over from the University of South Carolina and Shon Robinson from Ol Miss and right across there is Rich Washington you might remember from last year, who’s still trying to work with the NCAA to get back a last year of eligibility.”

Even with other familiar faces like Caleb Simmons and Trey Smith, it looked and felt like a far different team (yes, even though it was just practice, as Allen Iverson says).

As Miles went on, two more thoughts came to mind: how seamlessly Miles flowed from me to the players to the court and how in the world all these transfer players found their way to San Jose. It was clear it was based on the merit and reputation of Miles and an all new coaching staff that looked to flow as seamlessly from each other and the players and other guests.

Though it was just one practice, it was abundantly clear how different the vibe and dynamics were. In previous seasons, it felt forced to put it briefly and simply.

Regardless that it was a Friday practice, it was loose, fun and yet intense as it should be. Pinging others around the court, including assistant media relations director Matt Penland, confirmed it’s the new norm now.

Friday also welcomes the weekend and the added informal on-court dance offs, which Simmons clearly looked to win, while Diallo welcomed this writer with a fist bump from 3.8 feet away asking if I captured any good photographs of him.

There’s high confidence on Miles to move the program forward, but expectations don’t feel all that high to start an avalanche of winning right away. It actually feels like a Brent Brennan year one on the football side of things.

Miles will be trusted and allowed the time to build and shape a long-awaited basketball culture in San Jose. Even still, it should be a very welcomed first season for alumni, the student body and the community at large.

The season starts in November.

Further vibes in images: