There haven't been enough of them, to be sure, but junior college transfer guard James Kinney is a top-level WAC scorer, sophomore point guard Keith Shamburger is a keeper, and big man Wil Carter has been doing good work despite little help in the paint.
Through Jan. 28, he was averaging 11.3 points and 8.2 rebounds. He was just about the only Spartan who could grab an offensive rebound other than by accident.
"Wil Carter is one strength," Utah State coach Stew Morrill said recently, previewing his team's matchup against San Jose State.
"He's a kid that we had in camp and were very much aware of. We would have loved to taken Wil Carter; we just didn't have the scholarships at that position at the time."
That's high praise from the guy who has coached the best team in the WAC in recent seasons.
Carter (6-8, 234) is from Pocatello, Idaho, and played at Salt Lake Community College (also taking a two-year church mission) before transferring to San Jose State. He averaged 11.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last season for the Spartans.
He's been the only inside scoring option for San Jose State (7-15 overall, 0-7 WAC), which relies mostly on the 3-point shot and plays four guards around him much of the time.
"He's bouncy and a guy you would love to have right now," Morrill said. "He's playing really well."
Shamburger misses game with back injury
--Sophomore PG Keith Shamburger was ejected from the game against Idaho on Jan. 26 for hitting Djim Bandoumel with an elbow. Shamburger missed the next game, against Utah State, for what the school called back problems that had bothered him in recent games. He had been 1 of 16 from the field -- including 1 of 11 from 3-point -- before sitting out a game.
--San Jose State had only five turnovers against Utah State on Jan. 28 with D.J. Brown running the point for Keith Shamburger, who was held out because of back problems. Brown had three of the turnovers. "D.J. played fine," coach George Nessman said. "To put him at the point and to handle this intensity, I thought he did pretty well."
--San Jose State will retire the jersey No. 45 of Darnell Hillman on Feb. 4 during the home game against Hawaii. Hillman, a 6-foot-9 native of Sacramento who played at SJSU in the late 1960s, went on to a 10-year career in the ABA and NBA. He averaged 15.3 points and 14.2 rebounds for the Spartans in the 1968-69 season.
BY THE NUMBERS: 20 -- Consecutive losses for San Jose State at Utah State's Dee Glen Smith Spectrum after an 82-65 loss there on Juan. 28. The Aggies have won nine in a row overall in the series, which resumes March 1 in San Jose.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "San Jose State is that close. They're going to win some games. They've played a lot of tough, close road games. They're going to break through." -- Utah State coach Stew Morrill, after his team defeated the Spartans 82-65 in Logan on Jan. 28.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. Hawaii, Feb. 4
KEY MATCHUPS: This begins a three-game homestand for the Spartans, who are trying to win their first game in league play. Hawaii won the first meeting 82-69, with much of the action happening right around the rim. That's not good news for SJSU, which is out-gunned in the interior by Vander Joaquim and Joston Thomas, who combined for 47 points and 22 rebounds. SJSU's Wil Carter had one of the great individual efforts in the WAC this season -- 21 points and 20 rebounds -- but the Spartans need their guards to help more in order to keep this one close.
FUTURES MARKET: Even if it's out of necessity, coach George Nessman is building for the future by recently inserting G D.J. Brown and post Stephon Smith into the starting lineup. Brown showed his prowess with a 33-point effort against Cal State Bakersfield on Jan. 23, and he also handled point guard duties when sophomore Keith Shamburger was out Jan. 28 against Utah State. A three-guard lineup that includes Brown, Shamburger and junior James Kinney should continue to grow and be quite formidable next season.
--PF Wil Carter, through the first half of the WAC season, led the league in offensive rebounds with five per game.
--D.J. Brown's 33 points against Cal State Bakersfield on Jan. 23 were a school record for a freshman and were the most by a WAC freshman since New Mexico State's Jahmar Young scored 33 on Jan. 10, 2009.
--C/F Chris Cunningham transferred to San Jose State from Santa Clara over the summer. Cunningham (6-8, 225) averaged 4.4 points and 2.8 rebounds a game for Santa Clara. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining after he sits out in 2011-12.
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