PHIL JOHNSON, 19-63, WILL REMAIN THROUGH SEASON
By Mark Gomez- Mercury News
Phil Johnson will not return as San Jose State men's basketball coach next season, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Johnson, who has one year remaining on the contract he signed in 2002, already has been informed of the decision by new athletic director Tom Bowen, sources said.
Johnson declined comment on the matter Monday night after the Spartans' sixth consecutive loss, a 72-69 defeat to Boise State. According to one source, Johnson and school officials have agreed not to discuss the matter publicly until a formal announcement is made.
Last week, in response to questions about Johnson's future, Bowen issued the following statement: ``Phil Johnson started the season as San Jose State University's men's basketball head coach and he will continue his responsibilities the remainder of the season. He and I have discussed the program's progress as any athletics director and head coach would do and we will continue to have these ongoing discussions.''
Coaches being mentioned as possible successors include Cal assistant Louis Reynaud and Vance Walberg, who is 95-5 since taking over at Fresno City College.
SJSU's decision to part company with Johnson comes as no surprise. Shortly before hiring Bowen, interim President Don Kassing, who has spoken repeatedly about the importance of strong athletic teams, fired Fitz Hill as football coach. Hill had two years remaining on his contract but had presided over four consecutive losing seasons.
Johnson, with a record of 6-18 (3-11 in the Western Athletic Conference), is assured of his third consecutive losing season and is 19-63 in his second stint as Spartans coach. He earns $105,000 in base salary and is due a $72,000 bonus if he's still coach in mid-April.
Johnson is expected to resurface at USC, where his close friend Tim Floyd will take over as head coach next season. Johnson coached with Floyd at Iowa State and with the Chicago Bulls, leaving for the NBA after guiding SJSU to a 12-16 record in 1998-99.
But the Spartans have not come close to repeating that modicum of success in Johnson's second go-around, winning just 13 games in his first two seasons combined.
Johnson faced several hurdles during his three seasons at SJSU, the most difficult of which was overcoming NCAA regulations that limited his number of scholarships. In 2002, Johnson's first season back, he signed just one player, Antonio Lawrence, and Lawrence spent just one season in school before turning pro.
When that rule was overturned in April, Johnson signed nine junior-college transfers and for the first time felt as though he had a full complement of players. That number was quickly reduced. Three of the players Johnson hoped would make contributions haven't played at all -- two because of injury and one because of academic ineligibility.
In last nights action at the events center, it was another loss for PJ's record.
Broncos buck Spartans, 72-69
By Emmanuel Lopez- Daily Copy Editor
February 21, 2005
The Spartans men's basketball team fell to Boise State University 72-69, when guard Marquin Chandler's 3-point attempt to force overtime spilled off the front of the rim.
San Jose State University dropped to 6-18 overall and 3-11 in the Western Athletic Conference, while Boise State improved to 12-16 overall and 5-10 in conference play.
"(Chandler) had a pretty good shot at it," said Bronco center Jason Ellis.
The Spartans took a 62-61 lead late into the second after guard Eric Bloom hit a layup while being fouled and sank the free throw. The Spartans led by as much as three before the Broncos clawed back to take the lead for good with two minutes to go in the second half.
Bronco head coach Greg Graham said the team wasn't rattled by going down toward the end of the game.
"Our guys are getting older," Graham said. "They've been in these spots before. That doesn't mean they're comfortable with it, but they know how to make plays."
Graham said he told his team to avoid giving up any 3-pointers.
"We wanted to force them to get a quick layup," he said.
SJSU coach Phil Johnson said the team's inability to secure defensive rebounds hurt the Spartan's chances of victory.
"The difference was in the last three minutes," he said. "I have to give (Jason) Ellis credit. He went into a crowd and pulled down a lot of tough boards. Those were the daggers that sank us."
Ellis, who had eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, said it felt good to secure a close win.
"San Jose's a good ball club - they're going to give anyone trouble in the tournament," Ellis said. "A win's a win. It's good to get the season sweep."
The Broncos pelted the Spartans with uncontested three-point shots, shooting 11-for-24 in the first half.
Graham said he was pleased his team was converting open looks at the basket.
"We wanted to go inside, but Jason got into foul trouble early," Graham said. "I thought Eric (Lane) had a good first half. He always finds ways to score."
Johnson said the Spartans did a better job adjusting in the second half.
"We just got out tougher," Johnson said. "It was a point of emphasis not to give up easy outside shots."
The Broncos committed nine team fouls to the Spartans' six.
Boise State also forced 12 SJSU turnovers while only committing four.
Johnson said the team managed to correct the sloppy play in the second half.
"It's uncharacteristic for us to not take care of the ball," he said. "I think we did a much better job in the second half."
SJSU will next face Rice University (13-10, 7-6 WAC) at 7 p.m. Friday at Autry Court in Houston.