San Jose State
Last season: Overall: 11-19, 6-8 (Tied for fourth place in the Western Athletic Conference)
Coach: Tim La Kose, second season at San Jose State, 358-171 in 19 seasons.
Key Players: Sophomore guard
Ta'Rea Cunnigan (11.6 points); transfer junior guard
Chereese Thomas (14 points, 4.8 assists, 7.5 rebounds).
Scouting Report: Last season was a big turnaround for the Spartans. WAC Coach of the Year La Kose and his staff coached SJSU to its best finish in the WAC since 2006 with a group of players not accustomed to his up-tempo style. The main loss is
Brittany Johnson (16th in the nation in scoring) who set the Spartans' single-season scoring and free throw records (603 points, 158 FTs). The Spartans have recruited plenty of fire power to account for the loss of Johnson. That includes 6-1 forward
Emily Schill, a freshman from Tecoma, Victoria, Australia, (who averages a double-double). Another new face is Oregon State transfer
Classye James, a sophomore guard who starred at Archbishop Mitty. She is an intense competitor who is not afraid to go inside or step outside. ... The team is looking to Chereese Thomas, a former Dublin High star whose Ohlone College team lost only one conference game in two seasons, for some experience. Last season she was Northern California Junior College Player of the Year ... Cunnigan (WAC All-Freshman Team last year and 2012 Preseason Media All-WAC second team), recruited by La Kose when he was at Bakersfield, is the textbook player for his system -- she is tenacious, and can run all day.
-- P.J. BROWN