NCAABB

San Diego State Basketball: 3 things we learned in the first month of play

After the first month of the college basketball season we have learned a lot about a talented San Diego State squad. One, they play lights out defense (no surprise there) only allowing 55 points per game which is good for top 15 in the nation. Two, true freshman Trey Kell and Kevin Zabo have both been big contributors thus far. However, there are a few things that must be addressed as the season progresses if the Aztecs want to make a deep run in the NCAA March Madness Tournament.

Free Throws:
If you can think of an easy way to cost you a game, it’s missing free throws. The Aztecs went 13-24 on the free throw line, which is roughly a 54%, in their 61-59 loss against Arizona. Their season average isn’t much better, as they are ranked nearly at the bottom with a 62% average as a team thus far. They are aggressive on offense and draw about 25 trips to the free throw line per game, which is very good typically, but the Aztecs have made it their Achilles heel. It has not been highlighted as much of a problem yet but as they start to play better teams it will become much more apparent.

Perimeter Shooting:
Arguably the biggest weakness for the Aztecs right now is their lack of ability to shoot three pointers. They are statistically one of the worst in the nation with a 28% average on the year. The Aztecs’ offense has been centered primarily on high-percentage shooting inside the paint. Although this is a good philosophy if you cannot shoot the ball from the outside, opposing defenders are more likely to stack up players inside the paint. This has exactly been the case for the Aztecs. In their most recent loss against Washington, defenders started to double team inside the paint and as a result the Aztecs were only able to complete 11 baskets the entire game.

There is a solution to this problem. It will be wise for Aztec head coach Steve Fisher to give his talented freshman Trey Kell more responsibility on the offensive side of the ball, as he was a prolific shooter in high school. His success will spread the defenders out and create more opportunities for forwards Winston Shepard and J.J. O’Brien.

Superstar?:
Lastly, the new regime of Aztecs play a very team oriented basketball game, which is great, but when the game is close they lack a true superstar like in the years past. In the first 9 games of the season it is evident that the team lacks a player that can take over a game, like Xavier Thames. The role was supposed to be filled by Winston Shepard and/or Dwayne Polee II, but both players have failed to do so on a consistent basis. They are both very active on the defensive side of the ball, but often disappear on the offense. This will be problematic if the Aztecs have aspirations of a deep March Madness run. Shepard and Polee II will need to step up their game and establish themselves as the true leaders of the team the rest of the way.

 

Photo Credit: Joel Burdeos/surfturfandmurph.com

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Daiki Sato

Daiki Sato a Southern California native and San Diego State Alumni. Loves all things sports. He covers the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Dodgers for Sports Out West.
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