A Look at Who May Get Playing Time in Hoops

Alphabetically listed, here is who we see as major minutes players among the returnees to the San Jose State women's basketball program.

First, a note: senior-to-be 6-foot-3 guard Kelly Blair has transferred to California Baptist. She was at CSU Bakersfield as a frosh and then moved to Cuesta College as a sophomore, where she led the state in scoring. Blair played 21 minutes a contest last season at SJSU, averaging 7.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, shooting 33-percent overall and 31-percent on three-point attempts. Her standout stat: just 10 free throw attempts in 487 minutes of action.

Now, the returnees:


Brown earned 24 starts in 30 games and averaged 26 minutes a contest -- this after transferring from San Joaquin Delta. She shot 36-percent from the floor in averaging 7.3 points a game, with the second most shooting attempts among the returnees. But Brown shot just 57-percent on 44 free throws, an unacceptable figure for a backcourter, especially one who will be handling the ball during the late moments in close games. She earned 95 assists (a team-leading 3.2 per game) with 114 turnovers. The assists total and the ratio itself are to be expected when passing the ball on a poor shooting squad but she needs to lessen the number of miscues.


Coble played very little last season --14 games at eight and a half minutes each time out. Her numbers were negligible and not substantial enough to offer any quality extrapolation. Her collegiate basketball role will more than likely be one as a situational defensive performer.


Hamilton is a latecomer to basketball, having not played and practiced seriously until her junior and senior seasons in high school. She made great progress during those latter two years and earned the rep in high school as a gym rat who was always working to get better. Let's hope that is continuing. In 10 starts for the Spartans, playing a bit less than 10 minutes a game in the 2008-2009 season, Hamilton shot 32-percent from the floor. Rebounding was her strength as a prep and that, with a handful of points and maybe a blocked shot every so often, is the appropriate expectation from her as she enters her sophomore season.


Ridge was never a big scorer -- 11 points per game -- at San Joaquin Delta -- more an across-the-stat-sheet numbers producer. In her first year at San Jose State, she performed similarly: a 30-game starter while averaging 31 minutes a game, 7.4 points a contest on 41-percent overall shooting and 39-percent on threes plus a team-leading 6.3 rebounds each time out. Ridge had 52 shotblocks, the fourth most in a season ever for the Spartans plus 47 steals, just one off the team lead. Call her the rock of the team. She also committed the most fouls on the squad but our sense is that was because she was physically overmatched last season by more than likely having to play out of position.


Here's the seemingly most explosive offensive member of the squad. In 26 games (eight starts) and 25 minutes a game, Shavers scored 10 points and nabbed 3.1 rebounds each time out while being especially proficient on the offensive boards. Now that Natalie White has graduated, Shavers returns as the top shot taker on the Spartans. However, she shot 34-percent overall and 26-percent from three-point range - numbers that obviously need improvement. A transfer from Tyler Junior College, Shavers shot 50-percent from the floor as a sophomore, 45-percent from 3 point range as a sophomore in Texas - it will be a tremendous help if she can get anywhere near replicating those figures as a Spartan senior.


If Shavers isn't the best offensive talent returning, then it's Sumler. She enjoyed 28 starts 30 games, playing 30 minutes a contest. Sumler scored 7.1 points a game, shooting 38% from the floor. She took but seven three-point attempts last season but earned 127 shots from the foul line (most on the team), indicating she's a live body slasher/penetrator. However, she made but 59 of her attempts from the charity stripe - 46-percent - and that won't work. Without doing the actual math, a 70-percent figure from the foul line probably would have made her the team's leading scorer. Sumler also grabbed 3.9 rebounds per contest, with an unusual ratio of 65 on the offensive end and 53 defensively. But her assist to turnover ratio - 62 to 120 - definitely needs tightening.

Is there a returning player to build the team around? No, a star doesn't exist at this point. But with personal improvement, the experienced talent has some intriguing possibilities that could do some damage as a sum greater than its parts.

There finally may also be the depth that is needed to be WAC-competitive if a couple of the newcomers are ready enough to contribute along with returnees Ridge, Brown, Shavers, Sumler and Hamilton.

About those already-profiled newbies, 6-foot-3 Samantha Marez and 5-foot-8 Brittney Bradley are incoming from the junior college ranks, along with 5-foot-11 Alisha Eckberg and 5-foot-9 Rachel Finnegan as high schoolers. The hope is for Finnegan to quickly adjust to the more physical and quicker collegate game and press for time at the point. Eckberg averaged 20 points per game as a junior, that being reduced to 15 in an injury-marred senior season. Bradley has quickness, with scoring and ballhandling skills, while Marez is definitely going to play a lot in the middle.

Kevin McCarthy is the Basketball Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Kevin with any questions, comments, or tips at kevin@insidesparta.com

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