Andrew Pang - Scout

2015-16 San Jose State Athletics Gradebook: Hoops Edition

Grades are out at San Jose State and now InsideTheSpartans.com grades the head coaches of the Spartans' basketball programs.

Following the fall sports edition of the 2015-16 San Jose State Athletics Gradebook, the spring sports’ coaches also deserve a mock performance review. Sports that competed during the university’s spring semester (January through May) include: basketball, baseball, softball, golf, gymnastics, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, beach volleyball, and women’s water polo. This edition will examine the basketball teams’ performance in the 2015-16 season. (Again, special thanks to SierraSpartan for inspiring this new feature.)

Men’s basketball (Coach: Dave Wojcik)

2015-16 record: 9-22 (4-14 Mountain West, 11th place)

Season evaluation: Despite a third consecutive last-place finish in the Mountain West Conference, Spartan men’s basketball showed promise this season. San Jose State made sure to get in the win column early. Following a blowout home loss to Idaho, the team held on for a 64-61 win over Montana two days later. The four conference wins included a 75-54 beatdown of Air Force, 65-53 upset of rival Fresno State, and 68-63 defeat of defending MW regular season champion Boise State on Senior Day. Statistically, here is a comparison of some figures from the 2014-15 season that had a 2-28 (0-18 MW) record against the 2015-16 season:

Statistic

2014-15

2015-16

Points per game

53.7

70.5

Field goal percentage

.355

.424

Rebounds per game

31.3

36.5

Assist-turnover ratio

0.7

1.0

Major factors in the horrendous finish to the 2014-15 season included an NCAA-mandated reduction in practice time. George Nessman’s final season (2012-13) had a single-year Academic Progress Rate of 807. That caused the rolling four-year average APR to drop below 930 in 2014, thus triggering the NCAA penalty. The next season, Wojcik’s first as head coach, the single-year APR shot up to a perfect 1,000, lifted the average APR to above 930 in 2015, and restored full practice time.

Another factor behind the two-win record of 2014-15 was a depleted roster. At the time, guard Devante Wilson missed the entire season with an injury. Two other players took medical redshirts for missing many games, center Leon Bahner and guard Jalen James. In December 2014, Wojcik suspended five players, including four starters, for violating team rules. This mass suspension reduced Wojcik’s roster to under half of a standard Division I lineup and forced Wojcik to borrow two football players temporarily. The following month, Wojcik reinstated two of the suspended players and dismissed two others, Jordan Baker and Frank Rogers, from the team. Both dismissed players were Division I transfers who combined for nearly 20 points per game when they were active. Another suspended player, backup center Matt Pollard, transferred after the fall semester. Rogers earned his way back on the team for his senior year and ended his collegiate career as the team’s top scorer and rebounder.

In 2015, Wojcik recruited six players, including five from high schools and one from a junior college. All are expected to return for the 2016-17 season. In contrast, nearly half of the 15 players in Wojcik’s 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes left the team before their final years of eligibility for various reasons, including transferring, discipline, or injury.

The 2015 class already has a gem in guard Brandon Clarke, who earned MW Sixth Man of the Year honors. Clarke’s dunks and defensive plays routinely got Event Center crowds loud and energetic. JC transfer Gary Williams, Jr. could provide leadership as a senior next year. In February, Williams hit several free throws late to secure a 62-55 home win over Wyoming. Forwards Cody Schwartz and Ryan Welage have the potential to become San Jose State’s own “Splash Brothers”. It remains to be seen if center Ashtin Chastain, who redshirted his true freshman year due to injury, can step up and fill the big man role vacated by Rogers.

Wojcik grade for 2015-16: Incomplete. Given the mess that Wojcik inherited, a letter grade cannot accurately evaluate Wojcik after his third season. Looking beyond the win-loss record, the team showed progress both academically and athletically, and Wojcik has been better able to retain players he recruited. Another season with full practice time and increased collective experience among the players should lead to higher expectations come 2016-17. Also, Wojcik brings in a new recruiting class of five for 2016 that could enhance the roster depth.

 

Women’s basketball (Coach: Jamie Craighead)

2015-16 record: 13-17 (11-7 MW, 4th place)

Season evaluation: Spartan women’s basketball overcame a 2-9 out-of-conference start and became competitive in MW play, including winning streaks of three and five. San Jose State’s challenging out-of-conference schedule gave it the highest strength of schedule in the Mountain West last season. The five-game winning streak began on Jan. 30 and included a 66-64 win at Fresno State for the first road win in Fresno in nearly 15 years and marking senior center Riana Byrd’s 1,000th career point. Also in that streak, Byrd reached 1,000 career rebounds and hit a buzzer-beating layup for a 59-58 win over New Mexico.

However, this season came with some head-scratching losses. On Nov. 22, San Jose State lost 90-88 in overtime at Cal State Bakersfield, after surrendering a 72-62 lead inside 1:30 left in the fourth quarter thanks to multiple turnovers and rushed shots. In a 78-75 loss to Boise State on Jan. 20 and 80-78 loss to Colorado State on Jan. 27, San Jose State had halftime leads but could not hold on. There was also an 87-70 loss at San Diego State, who finished 6-12 in conference play. Following a run to the Mountain West Tournament semifinals as the #8 seed that included an upset of #1 Colorado State, San Jose State was crushed in the first round 65-51 by New Mexico in 2016. These losses showed the downside of the uptempo offense installed by Craighead.

Point guard Dezz Ramos, a transfer from Weber State, followed up her preseason Newcomer of the Year honors with postseason first-team All-MW selection in her junior year for leading the team in scoring with 18.1 points per game. Ramos should form another solid senior class in 2016-17 along with forwards Paris Baird and Jasmine Smith and guard Rachol West.

Craighead grade for 2015-16: C+. Through three seasons with Craighead as head coach, her teams have become more competitive in conference play every year, from 10th to eighth to fourth place. Yet the team underachieved this season, with several losses that could easily have gone San Jose State’s way and potentially opened the door to a postseason WBI bid. Also, given Craighead’s rather late hire, in mid-September 2013, most of her players were recruited by the previous coach. That will change next year, as Craighead signs her largest recruiting class she has had at San Jose State. Next year’s results will answer the question of whether Craighead can build a roster around her style of play.


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