Ankle sprains were the primary physical culprit that damaged SJSU's chances this season with Adrian Oliver, C.J. Webster and Tim Pierce (at least the ones we know of) missing time during the season and then also coming back and playing on still mending ankles. This is the type of injury that cannot be prevented -- it just happens -- and is expected to occur to some degree throughout a long season but this bug certainly bit SJSU big-time in 2008-2009. The good news: the sprains have healed/will heal minus any medical procedures.
In addition, Justin Graham played most of the season one-handed, having a fractured scaphoid bone in his (right) shooting wrist. Here is a photo with an arrow pointing to where the bone is located:
Graham could more or less control his shot from the mid-range on in but was reluctant to take a shot beyond that distance because the injury compromised his accuracy. Opponents, especially those in the WAC, were certainly well aware of this injury and adjusted their defenses accordingly.
Some might say this resulted in playing 4-on-5 at times and while Graham's injury limited SJSU's outside-shooting prowess -- Graham made one of 12 three-pointers in 2008-2009 conference play -- he did shoot 46% from the floor overall.
For comparison's sake, Graham shot 7-14 from long distance in WAC competition during his freshman season, 15-35 overall on treys in 2007-2008 and finished his initial WAC go-around shooting 52%.
So empirically his shooting prowess dipped both overall and from three-point land.
But despite this handicap, Graham was still able to penetrate past defenders more often than not and create opportunities for himself and his teammates. Plus, he was San Jose State's best defender despite his ailment so it simply made no sense not to play him regardless of how opposing teams slacked off from defending him far away from the basket.
The good news is that Graham will soon have an operation thereby fixing the break, with the expectations that the wrist will be back to normal come next basketball season. Then teams will have to play him honestly, thus eliminating the 4-on-5, packing the paint defensive option.
Additionally, Adrian Oliver also suffered a knee injury and missed time and games, thereby limiting his sharpness and the team's cohesiveness. This ailment will also heal with time off.
Plus, Oliver Caballero was often absent due to a balky back thereby delaying his development and limiting the number of 'bigs' available to play. This severely limited the options at the 4 and 5 spots considering that Clint Amberry also wasn't physically ready to battle inside. Too often, DeVonte Thomas -- 6-foot-4 at most -- had to be called upon to bang against much larger opponents and this disadvantage was also seized upon by opposing coaches.
A look back, a look ahead
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