By Kavin Mistry
It’s no secret, the Spartans men’s basketball team has put itself back on the radar.
After starting the season off 1-3, San Jose State began to look like the team that struggled out of the gate from a year ago and was headed for another 1-7 start.
“We have done a terrific job of defending over the past three games,” said head coach Dave Wojcik. “I thought we did a really good job rebounding, I thought we just grinded it and found ways to manufacture baskets when we struggled.”
With the recent hot streak, the Spartans have begun adding to the record books. Saturday’s win was the first time a men’s basketball team at SJSU has held a division I opponent to 40 points since 1961.
“We can win games when our offense scores points, but we can also win games when we have to rely on our defense,” Wojcik said.
Sophomore forward Ryan Welage has emerged over the past four games as the Spartans most consistent shooter, scoring at least 12 points over that stretch.
“He’s aggressive,” Wojcik said. “He has a scorer’s mentality because if he misses one or two, he is not shy shooting that third or fourth shot. As long as he stays aggressive, I am happy with that.”
Wojcik said he wants to see more from sophomore Cody Schwartz, who has struggled this season to find his consistent shot and could add a lot to the Spartans offense if he can become lethal.
“I just want him to shoot the basketball and be loose,” Wojcik said.
At this point last year the Spartans were struggling to find its identity and could not find any defensive consistency.
Wojcik said before the season began that the team’s success is based on how well they are able to execute defensively and turn defense to offense.
Saturday, Santa Clara shot an abysmal 28 percent from the floor and only made 13 shots in the game. While the offense for the Spartans also had its struggles, SJSU used the lock-down defense to create a 14-0 run to start the second half.
The success of the defense is becoming evident through its ranking in the Mountain West this season, tops in turnover margin (+2.9) and in forced turnovers per game (15.4).
The Spartans will look to keep the win streak going when they face Montana on the road Wednesday.