By Ryan Vermont:
It has been a tale of two teams for San Jose State basketball throughout this season’s non-conference slate, but how the teams fare in the second half of the season will pinpoint the true state of each program.
While the 2015-16 conference schedule doomed the SJSU men’s team, it was quite favorable to the women’s side who won the majority of its games last season during conference play.
However, these are new players, new schemes and teams heading in very different directions.
The Spartan men are off to their best start in the last 6 years with their in-your-face, persistent defensive style and balanced array of scoring. Much of the success could be credited to the progression of sophomore forwards Ryan Welage and Brandon Clarke.
With a 7-4 record overall and winning 6 of their last 7, the SJSU men are currently in fourth place in the Mountain West Conference heading into the back half of the schedule. They are currently slotted ahead of last season’s regular season conference champion San Diego State and a game behind last season’s tournament champion Fresno State.
It should be noted each team in the conference is above .500 at this point.
As for the SJSU women, the team hasn’t really been able to get on track following a promising 2015-2016 campaign in Head Coach Jamie Craighead’s fourth year at the helm. Heading into conference action, the team sits in tenth place, one spot above Air Force for last in the Mountain West.
The big issue of this year’s team has been finding pieces to fill key roles on the team following the departure of Riana Bird and the rest of a record-setting class as well as a difficult schedule. While that is not exactly excusable, it does bare some meaning.
If she didn’t last year, Dezz Ramos has established herself as the Spartans’ number one option on the offensive end. She leads the team averaging 19.1 points per game, and had back-to-back 30-point games this year. The supporting cast has struggled to find consistency.
In conference play, each team will get a chance to play its opposition at home and on the road.
The men begin their season in Nevada tomorrow against at 7 p.m. The Wolfpack (11-2) are off to a stellar start in their 2nd year under coach Eric Musselman.
SJSU’s women’s team begins its conference schedule on Thursday inside the Event Center. They too play against the University of Nevada-Reno at 7 p.m.