We confess to not knowing much about San Jose State, but as soon as we
started to look and realized that they were 1-10, that was sort of a red
flag. We've learned here to pay attention to what we say - we've been told
that things we've written have ended up in locker rooms around the ACC - but
we're not stretching much when we say that Duke should be heavily, heavily
SJU's sole win came against Cal Poly, hardly a powerhouse.
And yet, as we've seen from time to time, playing in Cameron can bring out
the best in an opponent. San Jose is only shooting 38.7% from the floor,
something Duke will likely suppress further.
San Jose State is not a big team, with the probable starters running 6-4,
6-8, 6-2, 6-3, and 5-11. 6-2 Carlton Spencer is averaging 12.0 ppg; 5-11
Jamon Hill is averaging 10.1.
Tim Pierce started 10 of the first 11 games, but hasn't played well
lately. He is averaging 11.4 ppg.
1-10 doesn't happen in a vacuum, and as it happens, San
Jose State went through the first semester with five players ineligible.
They could conceivably be eligible for Duke, but it's not clear when they'll be
back. One, Carlton Spencer, has been reinstated.
And Kerry Woolridge is still recovering from a groin injury.
And while his team is inexperienced coach George "don't call me
Les" Nessman thinks his team is getting better. Against Long Beach
State, they had a shot, but weren't experienced enough to know how to close the
Coach Nessman told the San Jose Mercury News that "[t]here are
periods where we lose our brains. That's youth. We don't have the
cumulative experience. We're gobbling up timeouts like they're candy because we
have to get our guys through those periods..Right now, we're getting our brains
beat in. We believe time is our ally. As our guys mature, our team will
Cameron may not be the best place for that to happen. And you may
wonder why this game ever happened in the first place. The answer is easy,
The former Duke walk-on and nephew of Coach K was Nessman's Director of
Basketball Operations last year, and it
was Borman who suggested the game and then made the call to make it happen
(make sure that you read the paragraph at the bottom of this article for a
back-handed slap at the wine-and-cheesers).
That's why Duke considered, and scheduled, the Spartans. For San Jose
State, the money from Duke will fund a trip to England this summer.
Well, that and Nessman said "[t]hat's definitely
why we wanted to do it. We need to be partly in the business of creating a great
experience for our athletes. (That) kind of superseded all other considerations.
Our guys can say they played at Cameron Indoor Stadium."
For Duke, there is a bit of bad news as we understand
Lance Thomas has injured his ankle. That obviously affects Duke's depth
and takes away a guy with unique skills on this team. Dave McClure can
cover some of his responsibilities, but he is not as long and not athletic in
the same way. Lance has a role on this team which is hard to replicate
(assuming he's playing well, that is).
But overall, it's hard to see how any advantage can
be claimed by San Jose State. There's a chance they could have unusually quick
guards and could spread the court a la Marquette, but even if that were the
case, they've not managed to pull themselves together well enough to win two
games. The odds of a breakthrough in Cameron? Slim. Very slim.
Their best chance might be an overconfident Duke, or
one not yet back to full speed after the holidays, but under Coach K, Duke
rarely fails to respect an opponent.
You have to do that. You have to take an
opponent seriously. It's just hard to see how this team could pull off an