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WAC Notebook

January 24, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

WAC Notebook

by Phil Dailey

San Jose State earns first conference win

That’s right folks, the San Jose State Spartans (4-10 overall, 1-4
WAC) won their first Western Athletic Conference game last Saturday night against one
of the league’s best teams. Just when it looked like the Spartans
were in for a long season as the WAC doormat, they beat up on Hawai’i (11-3, 4-2)
on their home court, 79-67.

“It was a game that we are real happy to have won,” said head coach Phil Johnson.

“We really needed it. This is something to hang our hat on and move forward,” continued Johnson.

The Spartans’ success against the Warriors is due in large part by the play
of freshman Antonio Lawrence. The 6-foot-4 Jacksonville, Fla. native became
the first freshman at SJSU in 13 years to recorded a double-double on Dec.
7 against Cal-State Monterey. Lawrence matched the freshman feat for the
second time two weeks ago against Southern Methodist (7-8,2-3) and again in
the win against Hawai’i.

On the season, Lawrence is averaging a touch over 10 points per games as well as grabbing over six boards per game.

One of the reasons for the turnaround in Spartanville could be linked to the departure of SJSU’s leading scorer. Carlton
Baker is no longer on the team. Baker was averaging a team high 16.4 ppg before leaving the team on Jan. 8.
In October of 2001 Baker withdrew from San Jose St. to tend to family matters, only to return and play last year.

According to Johnson, Baker quit.

The Spartans are heading in the right direction and look to continue their
success on the road this week traveling to Nevada (8-8, 3-3) and conference
front-runner, for now, Fresno State (13-3, 6-1).

That’s why they play the games

You can call it parity or whatever, but just like the rest of college hoops
this season, the WAC has been anything but predictable. It was only a few
short months ago when all the so-called experts predicted a two-horse race
between Tulsa (10-4, 3-2) and Hawai’i to take home this year’s WAC crown.
It was supposed to be guaranteed for second year in a row these two squads would slide
right into a couple of ten seeds in the NCAA tourney.

With that said, this season has anything but two-horse race and as it stands now,
the Warriors and the Golden Hurricane are on the outside looking in.

Ray Lopes and his Fresno State Bulldogs are starting to build an insurmountable lead
for the regular season WAC Championship. The Bulldogs look to make the turn for
the home stretch in conference play this weekend as they welcome Hawai’i and San Jose St. to Selland Arena.
Hawai’i will be more than ready after being humiliated last week against San Jose State.

How about Tulsa? This is a team that only last month was ranked as high as
18th in the Hoopville Top 25. With losses to Fresno State as well as last week to
Boise State (9-7,3-3), the Golden Hurricane isn’t quit looking like the team to beat in the WAC.

With the conference season nearly half gone, it’s still anyone’s title to take that is if Fresno State can be defeated.

WAC Player of the Week

Usually I just honor one individual whose performance stood above the rest,
but this week I have to acknowledge more than one player. Boise State and San Jose State
absolutely shocked the WAC this past week with wins against the
two teams that are probably the most talented in the conference. For their big wins,
they are rewarded as co-teams of the week.

As mentioned earlier the Spartans dominated Hawai’i 67-89 in San Jose last
week behind double-doubles from Antonio Lawrence and fellow freshman Keith Everage.

As for the Broncos, they battled Tulsa to 78-74 victory last Saturday night
in the BSU Pavilion.

Thanks to clutch shooting down the stretch by Bryan Defares and Aaron Haynes,
the Broncos fought of Tulsa’s 43 percent shooting from the floor en route to their victory.

Haynes led all scores with a career high 30 points off the bench, including
four 3-pointers, while Defares added another 24 points as well for the Boise State.

“He’s got a knack for scoring the basketball, said Boise State Head Coach Greg Graham about Haynes’ shooting against Tulsa.


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