San Diego State Aztec basketball has jumped out to an impressive start to the 2012-13 college basketball season. They are ranked No. 17 in the AP Top 25 with a record of 6-1. Fans have reason for excitement after their victories last week over USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins. Dick Vitale from ESPN.com commented in April about the basketball program by saying “The premier player in the Mountain West, Jamaal Franklin, is back. Steve Fisher welcomes in several big-time transfers, including Dwayne Polee of St. John’s.” Jamaal Franklin leads the Aztecs with averages of 19.9 points per game and 10.7 rebounds per game.
It is relatively early in the season, but the Aztecs are starting to get discussed in the same breath with the elite basketball programs in the country. As listed above, there are certainly reasons to be optimistic about the direction of the Aztec program, but are fans getting a little ahead of themselves?
The Aztecs are currently ranked 128th in the nation in points per game. They are ranked 183rd in assists per game and 249th in overall field goal percentage. On a positive note, they rank 28th in the nation in rebounding. Based on the numbers, it is surprising that the Aztecs are ranked in the top 25 and have a record of 6-1. The record may be misleading considering the only top 25 opponent they have faced thus far is Syracuse — and they lost that game 62-49. It is true that the game against Syracuse was their first game of the season, but they have feasted off of a weak schedule against sub-par opponents.
There is no overlooking the victories the Aztecs had last week against USC or UCLA, but they are not in the same league as the likes of Indiana or Duke. With an elite player like Jamaal Franklin, the Aztecs will be able to win most games against mediocre teams. The real test will be against their conference opponents, No. 18 New Mexico and No. 21 UNLV. Stats can be misleading and thus far you can throw them out the window but come late March will the Aztecs be for real?
Robert W. Ekberg is a staff writer for Sports Out West. Follow him on Twitter @Robek24