With just five games remaining in the regular season, San Jose State men’s basketball is now 8-17 (3-10 MW) following two road losses last week: 64-61 to UNLV on Wednesday and 74-56 to New Mexico on Saturday. Despite his team being tied for last place in the conference, SJSU Head Coach Dave Wojcik expressed confidence with the direction of the men’s basketball program.
“We keep getting better as the season goes on, and that’s a tribute to my staff,” Wojcik told Inside the Spartans on Monday. This year’s team has improved in three offensive stats compared to last season: points per game (53.7 to 71.9), field goal percentage (35.5% to 43.1%), and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.69 to 1.09).
“We’re doing a great job guarding people and rebounding as well,” added Wojcik. The team averages 37.1 rebounds per game, compared to 31.3 last season.
Wojcik also credits the return of a full practice schedule this season, following a reduced practice schedule last season due to NCAA sanctions for an unsatisfactory Academic Progress Rate from before Wojcik became coach.
“We lost two weeks of practice time last year,” explained Wojcik. Among the NCAA’s sanctions included two days deducted per week from the practice schedule.
He also compared this year at San Jose State to his time as an assistant coach at Boise State. In the 2011-12 season, its first in the Mountain West, Boise State finished in last place. This preceded winning records in the next three seasons, including NCAA tournament appearances in 2013 and 2015.
“We’re just going to keep getting better as these kids keep getting older and we continue to recruit high quality, high character, skilled guys to fit our mold and fit our philosophy and win the Mountain West,” said Wojcik.
This season also did not have the major losses of players due to injuries or discipline as happened last season, when Leon Bahner and Jalen James missed much or all of the season with injuries, and multiple players were suspended in December 2014. James missed only eight games this season with an ankle injury.
On the loss to New Mexico, Wojcik credited New Mexico for playing more aggressively and alertly than San Jose State.
“They were more aggressive than we were,” commented Wojcik. “They got the 50-50 balls, the loose balls that we didn’t.”
In both losses, San Jose State missed a combined 19 free throws, including five in the final four minutes of the 64-61 loss to UNLV.
“It’s anything else that you do in your life; you have to put time towards it,” said Wojcik about his team’s free throw performance. “It’s muscle memory, and you have to work at it; you gotta shoot free throws every day ad nauseum to where it’s just automatic.”
This week, San Jose State men’s basketball returns home on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. to face Nevada (15-9, 7-5 MW). This game will be streamed online at www.sjsuspartans.com/videos. Nevada head coach Eric Musselman is in his first college head coaching position after experience as an NBA head coach and college assistant.
Afterwards, San Jose State hosts the conference’s top team San Diego State (19-7, 12-1 MW) on Sunday at 1 p.m., with the unusual tipoff time to accommodate a national television broadcast by CBS Sports Network. San Diego State coach Steve Fisher is now in his 17th season and has led San Diego State to four Mountain West tournament titles and five regular season titles.
“They’re going to be very athletic, they like to get up and down the floor, [and] they rebound the ball well,” remarked Wojcik about Nevada. He praised Nevada’s senior players and freshman center Cameron Oliver as players who would challenge San Jose State.