After the Spartans dismantled Air Force earlier this week, SJS head coach Tim Miles set some expectations this weekend against almighty, first-place San Diego State.
“San Diego State is a whole different beast,” said Miles post-game Air Force. “Each game has its own kind of rules in how we play and what we do and the Aztecs present a whole other set of circumstances.”
Perhaps Miles’ slant can be construed as “don’t be surprised if we don’t win.” But at the same time, Miles’ Spartans have shown it is completely possible considering their body of work this season, so far.
At the halfway point, Mountain West play has been exceptional overall this season and San Jose State is in the thick of it. Miles and star guard Omari Moore continue to push the envelope. From soundly beating teams to taking top teams to the brink and yes, being overwhelmed at times - it’s a whole gamut of excitement and emotions.
Nonetheless, it’s been a season of marked improvement where we can almost safely say the trend will continue into the future with Miles’ track record.
Without further adieu, joining this writer on this SJSU - SDSU matchup preview is another long-standing San Jose State alum, educator and now beat writer covering the Aztecs - Jeff Carter.
Being a San Jose State alum covering San Diego State, “technically,” how do you see this game playing out vs. how you might feel emotionally how you want this game to end up?
Thanks Vic! First this has been a good year for Spartan basketball. They are clicking on more cylinders than usual. They have the core of a successful team. That being said, they are still not in the same league as SDSU. The Aztecs have Butler and Bradley who consistently carry games and a strong supporting cast around them. This is a team that SJSU would like to be more like. Depth, athleticism and talent. The Spartans are two years away at this pace from competing for the top tier. I do like how they have instilled a positive culture.
I would tend to agree with your assessment and you make it easier for me to say how and why the Spartans can pull this off. First, if the Spartans can handle the Aztecs’ defensive pressure on quickly closing in spaces and equally closing out the perimeter, then that’s their first building block chance. Second, another scorer absolutely needs to show up with Moore and there’s a multitude of Spartans who can potentially do that. If that can all happen along with their rebounding, then they have to learn to close-out games if they’re taking a team like SDS to the wire.
The Aztecs obviously know Moore will be a key target for them. How do you feel SDSU has handled opposing teams’ key personnel so far?
The Aztecs tend to be their own worst problem. Free throw consistency has been a season issue. The loss against the Lobos highlighted the Aztecs’ cold shooting, free throws and a breakdown of assignment discipline. While there were times the Aztecs started to put on a run, the alibis were able to collapse their defense and thwart good shots.
I’m just going to say the Aztecs can’t completely stop a natural, relentless athlete like Moore. Moore just has to keep creating and his cohorts active and symbiotic around him.
What’s your overall thoughts on how far SDSU & SJSU go this season?
SDSU is a tourney team, maybe a 5-7 seed. They should seriously contend for the MWC title. The Spartans would do great to finish 5, but I think they will land at 7. The Aztecs have depth and key players off the bench. The Spartans play by committee behind Moore. Someone might step up, but the consistency is not there at the level to be the top team. Coach Miles should be retained for a long contract as he is the solution for the Spartans basketball team moving forward.
Agree, but I feel the Spartans can land at five.
All said, what’s your prediction of the SJS-SDS game outcome?
A close one. Blowout, etc. Dang, flip a coin. The Spartans have not been a team that pulls upsets. They beat teams similar to them and ones that are inferior. As much as I would, as a Spartan alum, to see Sparty pull off an upset, I just can’t fathom it. I think the game has a few runs, but in the end it will be the Aztecs 81-70.
This year should help to forget some of the previous year’s futilities with SJS. They have the right coach, right plan, right type of players. That said, I do hope the Spartans can get to 18 wins. An NIT bid would be welcome and deserving.
And hey how about that Spartan Duck! Maybe he can drop a few crumbs of success along the way!
I’d love to be completely wrong on this one, but I don’t see or feel an upset either. I’d happily eat crow though. But if it can happen, it’ll be a signature win.