Andrew Pang - Inside the Spartans

2016-17 SJSU Gradebook: Hoops edition

Inside the Spartans' Andrew Pang grades the recently completed men's and women's basketball seasons at San Jose State as both teams head into the offseason.

It is almost halfway through the spring semester at San Jose State. However, now that basketball season has officially ended, it is timely now to review both the men’s and women’s basketball seasons. Special thanks to SierraSpartan for inspiring the annual gradebook.

Because of the postseason coaching change, it would be pointless to create a gradebook for the 2016 football season. However, a gradebook for other spring sports will come out after final exams.

Men’s basketball (Coach: Dave Wojcik)

2016-17 record: 14-16 (7-11 Mountain West, 9th place)

Season evaluation: Two years after a season winless against any Division I opponents, San Jose State finally has given fans a reason to be optimistic. Last season had the first double-digit win total since 2011 and most wins in Mountain West play. On Feb. 7 at the Event Center, a nationally televised upset of defending regular season champion San Diego State sent fans storming the court after the final buzzer.

“They exceeded my expectations,” said Wojcik in an interview broadcast Wednesday on Spartan Sports Report. “…The next step is [to] get up into that middle half, top half section.”

Brandon Clarke, the Mountain West’s Sixth Man of the Year as a freshman, became a regular starter and earned first-team all-conference and all-defensive honors as he continued to amaze Spartan fans and frustrate opponents with his dunks and rim protection. Despite these achievements, the season ended on a five-game losing streak, including a 90-64 first round loss to Utah State in the Mountain West Tournament.

“It’s all predicated on how hard the guys work, individually in the off season here, how much bigger and stronger that we have to get…to play against the top teams,” added Wojcik.

Clarke also had an injury in the final month of the season.

“BC had a nagging injury for the past month of the season, and you could see it because he didn’t have his explosion or pop. He had his Achilles and his calf bothering him,” said Wojcik.

Having taken redshirt years, both Brandon Mitchell and Jalen James entered the season with two years of eligibility, but only James will return to the team next season.

Wojcik grade for 2016-17: C-. Although Wojcik deserves praise for the most successful season in his tenure, the way the team crumbled in the final stretch leaves a lot to be desired. Next year’s team should be relatively experienced, as there is one known signee for the coming season. There could be more, should any current players leave.

“We’re on some top 100 kids right now, and they understand what we’ve done, where we’ve been,” commented Wojcik about recruiting.

Overall, Wojcik has shown that he deserves to be head coach in the long term. His contract expires after the 2017-18 season, so it will be important for the next athletic director to negotiate a new contract.

Women’s basketball (Coach: Jamie Craighead)

2016-17 record: 11-21 (7-11 Mountain West, 8th place)

Season evaluation: Women’s basketball entered the season with high expectations after going 11-7 in conference play last season, a record that earned Craighead a new five-year contract over the summer. After another challenging non-conference schedule that ended with a 3-9 record, including two losses to ranked teams and several losses to teams that came off postseason tournament appearances, the conference portion of the schedule went up and down. Following a 7-7 record and a first round conference tournament bye on the line, San Jose State ended the regular season on a four-game losing streak.

Craighead grade for 2016-17: D. San Jose State gave away several winnable games: the overtime loss at defending champion Colorado State, the 14-point loss to Fresno State that followed a 12-point lead, and the cold-shooting home losses to Boise State and Wyoming. Worst of all, there was a road loss 108-85 to Nevada, who finished with the second-worst record in the conference and lost earlier in the season 107-84 at San Jose State.

With four senior starters graduating, the coming season will assuredly be a rebuilding year, as the roster will be primarily freshmen and sophomores. Craighead said in her final regular season press conference: “I hope that people doubt our ability to win with sophomores and freshmen, because we’ll prove people wrong.” I will gladly consider myself among the doubters, based on what I have observed last season with Craighead’s 2016 recruiting class.

In her year-end interview broadcast Wednesday on Spartan Sports Report, Craighead confirmed that Hallie Gennett and Myzhanique Ladd will return for their senior seasons and that Andrea Kohlhaas will come back as well.

Due to previous coach Tim La Kose unexpectedly leaving in the first week of the fall 2013 semester, Craighead became head coach unusually late. Although San Jose State initially reported on Aug. 30, 2013 that La Kose resigned “for personal reasons,” an NCAA infractions report published last October revealed that San Jose State actually “relieved the former head coach of his duties” at the time, due to an ongoing investigation over possible NCAA violations. Having inherited a deep roster, Craighead signed only three high school players in her first two years but has recruited 11 high schoolers combined in her 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes.

With the last of La Kose’s recruits graduating this year, the 2017-18 season will be the first with exclusively Craighead’s recruits. That and the following season will be crucial in determining the future of the program. 

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