Blog Entry

Five reasons San Diego State is for real

Posted on: January 13, 2011 12:08 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2011 12:25 pm

Posted by Eric Angevine

I don’t think East Coast bias is a real thing. I’ve lived in three different time zones in my years in this fine nation of ours, and the fact is that hoops fans love West Coast teams – they’re exotic and mysterious, in large part because something you don’t see much of (e.g. a woman’s ankles in the Victorian era) is always kind of exciting. Thanks to our colleagues at CBS College Sports, I got a prime chance to watch the undefeated San Diego State Aztecs in action against the tough and crafty UNLV Rebels last night, and I saw plenty of reasons (OK, five) why this team should not be dismissed as a fluke.

1.     Size: This is the first thing that jumps out at a viewer watching an SDSU game. Only three players on the roster are listed below the 200-lb. mark, which means even the guards are packing some muscle. Kawhi Leonard, Malcolm Thomas and Billy White play even taller than they really are (each is under 6-foot-10), which makes the Aztecs nearly unstoppable inside. The SDSU offense takes a massive 60.8 of its shots inside the arc, and they sport a low 4.1 offensive block percentage that makes them tops in the nation at putting the orange roundie in the net.

2.     Flow: No doubt, the Aztecs play a slow game with all those big men on the floor. Their offensive pace is 64 possessions per game, well under the national average. But that’s where lack of exposure to a team can fool those of us who value what stats can tell us: watching them live, I saw a team that can run when opportunity knocks or necessity dictates. They’d prefer not to, of course. This team imposes its will by slowing the pace, but it’s not limited to one way of attacking the basket by any means.

3.     Cool: This year’s MWC is a house of horrors. Really. The Aztecs just beat a tough, Lon Kruger-coached UNLV team, but they can’t look forward and start gameplanning for BYU and the Jimmer Show because they have to go to New Mexico and face the likes of Dairise Gary, Drew Gordon and Emannuel Negedu -- not to mention a couple of tough young guards in Phillip McDonald and Kendall Williams -- in the Pit first. This league’s top four is better than anything the Pac-10 has to offer right now (possibly because so many current MWC stars transferred from Pac-10 schools, but still). Despite all that, these guys never appear to panic. They bring the lunchpail every night.

4.     ABC: I don’t mean alphabet soup, the Jackson Five or a rival television network. I mean Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross: Always Be Closing. You may have heard that ace reliever Trevor Hoffman retired this week and joined the front office of the San Diego Padres. In an inspired move, the public address crew at Viejas Arena broke out Hoffman’s entrance music -- AC/DC’s Hell’s Bells -- when the going got tough late in last night’s game. The Aztecs responded and put the clamps on to seal a 55-49 win. SDSU will play a lot of low-scoring games, so they’ll need that closer’s mentality to stay unbeaten.

5.     Fish: Steve Fisher might look and sound like your kindly old grampa, but don’t you fall for that act. You’re looking at a guy who played in the DII Final Four with the Illinois State Redbirds, and won a DI national championship in his tumultuous first few weeks of head coaching experience at Michigan. He recruited the Fab Five and went back to the tourney’s final day two more times. The fact that he got fired amid scandal from that recruitment doesn’t change the fact that he’s been to the mountaintop and knows how to coach. Opponents might have been caught napping on his skills last season, but this year his imprint can be seen in every aspect of the top-ten ranking this team has earned and held.

If I had the wherewithal to be in the Pit on Saturday, or BYU’s Marriott Center on January 26, no bias on earth would stop me from watching this team go to the mattresses.


Since: Jan 3, 2011
Posted on: January 21, 2011 12:08 am

Five reasons San Diego State is for real

SDSU is FOR REAL!  I've had difficulty with that thought over the past few years, but none this year.  They are playing solid basketball game in and game out.  When one player has a weak night, another has a fantastic one.  It's always the bias of people that are only confident in the big name programs and conferences that look at a team like the Aztecs and discount them. But lets take a look at SDSU.  They play in the MWC, which definitely has more talent in their top 4 than the PAC10 this year.  Then you hear the comments like, "Who have they played?"  They beat Gonzaga at the beginning of the year, for those that don't remember.  They destroyed Cal (OK, not a strong program this year).  They handily defeated St. Mary's (also nationally ranked, currently).  BYU beat St. Mary's by 1 point.  They beat UNLV in SD, and crushed NM at "The Pit."  Wichita St. is not a weak team either.  Then there are those that aren't certain of Mountain West talent.  Well, all I have to say is that if you bring any East Coast Team on a schedule that the MWC has to play each year, most of them will lose at least one game.  The travel and the atmospherics are grueling.  All but three programs are at Altitude.  Not an easy thing to become accustomed to.  Sure they haven't played a Villanova, Duke, UConn, or Pitt yet, but I don't doubt that this team, with their size, their defense, and their few fouls committed each game, would be able to hold their own.  They may lose 1 or 2 this year, but the team is for real, and we'll likely see them in the Sweet Sixteen or beyond.

Since: Nov 4, 2007
Posted on: January 16, 2011 4:41 am

Five reasons San Diego State is for real

Nonsense. RPI says SDSU is for real...#2 in the nation, plus longest winning streak and most road games against genuine programs.

Since: Dec 13, 2010
Posted on: January 15, 2011 1:18 pm

Five reasons San Diego State is for real

San Diego hasn't even been tested yet. St. Mary's and UNLV are good, but still not a test for a top ten team. The biggest problem that the Aztecs are going to have in the Mountain West is teams that push the tempo. If SDSU is down late in the game, they have no chance. They can't score fast enough and aren't used to the uptempo play. You can bet that if New Mexico gets up by more than ten in the second half it's gonna be tough for SDSU to come back. And they are going to need an answer to Fredette if they want to win in the Marriott Center.

Since: May 10, 2008
Posted on: January 15, 2011 12:10 pm

Five reasons San Diego State is for real

A win over New Mexico at The Pit will solidify their #6 ranking finally.

Since: Dec 28, 2007
Posted on: January 15, 2011 11:34 am

Five reasons San Diego State is for real

Check the "others" getting votes.  Then check SDSU's schedule.  Then give yourself an uppercut for not knowing what you're talking about.

Since: Nov 19, 2009
Posted on: January 14, 2011 11:57 pm

Five reasons San Diego State is for real

It's WICHITA  - numb skull

Since: Sep 10, 2007
Posted on: January 14, 2011 7:37 pm

Five reasons San Diego State is for real

One amazing thing about the San Diego State Aztecs is they have won more away and neutral court games then any team in the country.  Many teams in the Top 25 have barely play any away games or even neutral court games. Some teams don't even leave their home state of New York so they can stay undefeated. Others drop from the undefeated ranks because they lose their first tough away game. The Aztecs currently have an RPI rating of 2. That is the second best RPI in the country. They have NBA talent on that team, and NBA scouts are constantly going to Aztec games. They are a composed team with senior leadership.  I think the Aztecs diserve this high ranking.

Since: Oct 8, 2006
Posted on: January 14, 2011 7:12 pm

Five reasons San Diego State is for real


Since: Nov 11, 2009
Posted on: January 14, 2011 4:04 pm

Five reasons San Diego State is for real

I guess Gonzaga was not in the top 10 when SDSU beat them to open the season.

Since: Oct 30, 2010
Posted on: January 14, 2011 1:35 pm

Five reasons San Diego State is for real

I'm not sure, Eric, that you and I were watching the same game Wednesday night. It was a defensive struggle but neither team could make a jump shot to save their lives. I thought it was a very boring game and left feeling very underwhelmed by SDSU. In their last two games, SDSU has struggled at home against UNLV and on the road at Utah (they trailed at half and the game was close down the stretch. This is the same Utah squad that has lost 7 in a row and will by vying for 7th to 8th place in the MWC this year.) Take into account that BYU has played at UNLV and at Utah and handled both teams easily and you're forced to conclude that BYU has the upper-hand in the MWC thus far. Of course, the Cougars have their work cut out for them if they want to win the MWC but don't you have to give them the advantage, based on what we've seen so far?

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