As San Jose State men’s basketball (21-14, 10-8 MW) made strident steps out of mediocrity this season with a series of notable firsts:
- First Mountain West conference tournament win
- First post-season win
- First MW Player-of-the-Year in Omari Moore
- First combination of player and coach-of-the-year with second-year head coach Tim Miles
- Most wins since 1980
The Spartans closed out their historic season Monday afternoon in Daytona, Florida in a 67-57 quarter-final loss to a stout Radford Highlander team (21-14) from Virginia.
The Big South Conference representative overcame the Spartans with basic basketball ingredients that defied its 10th seed in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) over second-seeded SJS.
With depth and defense, the Highlanders surprised the Spartans. Seasoned upperclassmen, effective bigs inside and key portal transfers executed as they’ve done all season for Radford; even giving the Spartans some of their own medicine by winning the offensive glass 14-11 in a 40-35 rebounding differential on SJS.
While minimizing the Spartan back-cuts, pick-and-rolls and second chance points, Radford also pushed tempo. And though both teams shot poorly in the first-half, SJS led 28-26 at the half.
SJS center Ibrahima Diallo was also ineffective from an ankle injury from the Spartans’ opening round win leaving forward Robert Viahola as the only pivot big inside. Viahola finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.
By the second-half, except for a 12-2 run to come within one point, the Spartans struggled offensively, especially in missing too many shots inside in a 36% shooting day (Radford shot 41.5%).
Where only Moore and forward Tibet Gorener broke into double figures with 17 and 11, respectively, the Highlanders had four players in double figures.
The Spartans’ chance in the second-half rode on forward Sage Tolbert’s six-point surge during SJS’ 12-2 run with Miles’ implementing a 1-3-1 zone that briefly flummoxed the Highlanders.
Radford held and found 11 more shots and forced twice as many turnovers (12) in closing out the game.
Didn’t make history today but made history this season
In quick reflection of San Jose State’s 2022-2023 season, absolutely no one expected what Miles, staff and team achieved in just year two under Miles.
Though signs of life showed early and often throughout the season with key wins over Santa Clara, Boise and Utah State, Nevada and others, the Spartans also saw inconsistencies that should have seen a handful of even more wins.
Miles will certainly seek out more depth in the off-season and certainly the history Miles helped accomplish should reverberate on the recruiting trail, meaning...
Hey you! Miles isn’t going anywhere
Once upon a time, someone wrote Miles was being courted; then someone asked the question of Miles. Though it lingers, Miles dispelled it with clarity.
But in small circles it still wants to try and find teeth. It’s part of the unfortunate way of the world.
For San Jose State basketball, there’s no doubt Miles and staff are ready for the dynamics of the transient world of recruiting. Miles has said it and is on it.
Basically, Miles is a legacy guy and San Jose State and the Mountain West deserves more of what’s to come.