Spartans Return Home to Face Pacific

The San Jose State men's basketball team returns to the Events Center on Saturday to take on The University of the Pacific. The Spartans look to stop a two-game skid.

San Jose State hopes to have a Tiger by the tail -- actually five of them simultaneously -- Saturday afternoon when Pacific arrives to take on the Spartans in a 1 p.m. contest.

Doesn't it seem like Bob Thomason has been at Pacific like forever? No, he wasn't present at the school's founding -- at least not that we know of -- but he played basketball and golf there as a student-athlete for three years, graduated and and then earned a Master's plus he has been the head coach for 22 years. However, we have no solid evidence -- just a cryptic Matt Drudge reference from a double secret super source -- that the Thomason home is decorated throughout in orange and black.

In a coincidental but worthy-of-mention note, Ron Verlin is the Pacific Associate Head Coach -- he's the 'relative newbie' having been in Stockton for just 15 years. His brother Don is the head coach at Idaho. It doesn't take a weatherman to know how current Vandal backcourter Steffan Johnson landed in Moscow after having to depart from Stockton.

Remarkably, Pacific has been Big Dancin' in three out of the last six seasons. Leading the Big West Conference in attendance is one of the factors behind this feat as is being a private school, one that recruits both across the country and internationally. The Tiger roster currently has a player from Brazil and another from the Caribbean, plus players from South Dakota, Washington and Oklahoma.

Schedule To Date

11/13/09 at Pepperdine W, 67-64 (2OT)

11/16/09 vs. San Diego W, 56-55

11/19/09 at Northern Arizona (suspended in second half due to power outage - yes, you read that correctly)

11/22/09 vs. Santa Clara W, 84-57 (Pacific shot 56% overall, 63% from three-point range)

11/25/09 vs. San Diego State W, 71-63

In the last game, Terrell Smith had 16 points and five rebounds to lead Pacific. The Tigers got career-best scoring contributions off the bench from Nyika Williams (12 points) and freshman Allen Huddleston (10), outscoring San Diego States reserves 27-8. Pacific shot 53 percent from the field and outscored the taller Aztecs 26-8 in the paint to take a 42-29 lead at halftime.

Starting Five

* Sam Willard 6-foot-9 junior - the top returning scorer and rebounder also repeating that so far in 2009-2010

* Michael Nunnally 6-foot-8 (fifth year senior, sat out last year)

* Joe Ford 6-foot-6 - fifth year senior named Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Year by the league's coaches

* Terrell Smith 6-foot-4 - second leading scorer so far this season

* Lavar Neufville 6-foot-1 - physically strong but a streaky shooter

Top Reserves

Kyika Williams 6-foot-9 - a junior college transfer from St. Vincent and the Grenadines (in the Caribbean)

Pat Eveland 6-foot-6 - a California Community College First Team All-State Selection last season

Demetrece Young 5-foot-11 - not that much of a shooter but owns a topnotch assist-to-turnover ratio

Allen Huddleston 6-foot-1 - scored 31.5 ppg. as a prep senior, his father coaches the womens team at Merced Junior College

The Pacific Roster

Sterling Carter 5-11/190 Guard FR
Allen Huddleston 6-1/175 Guard FR
Reed Kamler 6-1/175 Guard FR
Stephon Lamar 6-0/170 Guard FR
Lavar Neufville 6-1/190 Guard SR
Andrew Ritchart 6-3/185 Guard SO
Nick Peterson 6-1/165 Guard FR
Terrell Smith 6-4/205 Guard JR
Demetrece Young 5-11/185 Guard JR

Royal Edwards 6-6/200 Forward JR
Pat Eveland 6-6/225 Forward JR
Joe Ford 6-6/210 Forward SR
Michael Nunnally 6-8/225 Forward SR
Jordan Turner 6-5/200 Forward FR
Sam Willard 6-9/210 Forward JR

Everson Lacerda 6-11/230 Center SO
Nyika Williams 6-9/225 Center JR

What To Expect

* The Big West beat reporters voted in pre-season for Pacific to finish in the fifth spot, just behind UC Riverside. Right now, the Tigers are playing better than that prediction -- note that 24-point obliteration of Santa Clara.

* From the It-Is-A-New-Season Department but... - Pacific finished 19-12 after the Big West Tournament concluded earlier in 2009, then posted wins over Portland and Idaho before falling to Bradley in the CollegeInsider.com post-season tourney. This minus the aforementioned Steffan Johnson and Michael Nunnally.

* KSJS will carry Mike Chisholm and his radio version of the game.

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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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