A wounded Darrion Trammell shoots out of his slump against the Spartans
In the Aztecs’ quarterfinal victory against Colorado State on Thursday, Darrion Trammell played a scoreless 20 minutes, six of which came in the second half and none after being substituted out with 7:09 remaining. He missed all five of his field goal attempts and his lone free throw.
Since scoring 14 points in the second half against New Mexico, Trammell totaled only ten points (3-20 FG, 2-12 3PT) in the next three games prior to Friday night. In the past two, his minutes (21 and 20) were the lowest he logged all season, not including his ejection at Utah State.
Trammell spoke postgame about the importance of staying confident despite his struggles.
“My teammates and my coaches, they’ve been telling me just keep shooting,” he said. “They put the ultimate trust in me, so I appreciate that from them. When you are in a slump, the only way you can get out of it is to shoot out of it, really. They made it easier on me by putting the confidence in me to keep doing that.”
With Lamont Butler’s emergence offensively and the team’s depth, Trammell’s continued struggles in conference play did not prevent the Aztecs from winning the regular season conference title.
But if the Aztecs are to reach their full potential in March, they will need the version of Trammell, who led the Aztecs in scoring in non-conference play in November and December.
On Friday night, Trammell was back in full swing as he hit a pull-up jumper from the foul line on the first possession of the game. Two possessions later, Trammell was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws.
“Yeah, I was hoping he would try to go O-for again, but he didn’t cooperate,” joked SJSU head coach Tim Miles postgame when asked about Trammell bouncing back after a scoreless game on Thursday. “When he started hitting, that made me worry. Trammell was important for them, and we just couldn’t get him under control.”
When SDSU head coach Brian Dutcher went to his stellar bench after the first timeout, Butler came out of the game instead of Trammell, a change of course from recent games. The decision was likely two-fold: Trammell’s hot start and Butler’s 33 minutes the day before, with a potential third game in three days looming on Saturday afternoon.
Trammell’s exploits were heightened during the biggest two-play stretch of the game, beginning with the last play of the first half and the first play of the second half.
After Dutcher called a timeout with less than 30 seconds remaining in the first half and the Aztecs up 30-20, Trammell ran down the clock and walked into a 3-point shot from the right wing. He drained it, but on the play, landed on defender Sage Tolbert’s foot and hobbled to the locker room, favoring his left lower leg. No foul was called on Tolbert for stepping into Trammell’s landing area.
Trammell came out for warmups in the second half with a wrap around his left calf and was able to continue the game. Postgame, Trammell said he would be fine and would make sure to get treatment tonight to be ready for the final.
As the second-half warmups were concluding, Trammell walked over to one of the officials and asked about the last play of the first half and whether Tolbert’s positioning warranted a foul.
“I feel like a lot of my shots I’m not being able to land, and I just have to let them know I’m not trying to show that or flop or anything like that, but I feel like I’m not being able to land,” said Trammell about his discussion with the official.
On the first play of the second half, the officials called a foul on a Trammel 3-point attempt. Mission accomplished. Trammel knocked down two of the three attempts.
Those five points pushed SDSU’s lead from 10 to 15 and helped the Aztecs cruise to an eventual 15-point victory.
Later in the half, Trammell knocked down a pull-up jumper to stop a 5-0 Spartans run and a 3-pointer to put the icing on the cake.
Overall, Trammell finished with 15 points (4-7 FG, 2-3 3PT, 5-6 FT), zero turnovers, and the Aztecs outscored the Spartans by 22 when he was on the court.
“Darrion guarded, and I thought he played free offensively today,” said Dutcher postgame. “He was out hunting his shot, and I didn’t mind because it was going in.”
In the opening 20 minutes, Micah Parrish competed with Trammell for player of the game honors. Not only did Parrish score a team-high nine points (3-5 FG, 1-1 3PT, 2-2 FT) in the half, but he made a heads-up play that will never show up in the box score.
After Trammell’s 3-pointer at the end of the first half went through the net with five seconds remaining and the clock running, the Spartans’ Alvaro Cardenas looked to inbounds the ball right away to Omari Moore. But Parrish face-guarded Moore immediately and did not allow the pass to be made, eating up the remaining seconds and preventing the Spartans from a chance at a final attempt.
It was a minor play in a double-digit game but another testament to the defense-first mentality that SDSU has built for the past two decades.
“Just the culture of our program,” said Dutcher in his postgame opening statement. “All these guys will tell you when they come to San Diego State, they’re told, if you defend at a high level, if you don’t like playing defense, don’t come to this program.”
Parrish missed all seven of his field goal attempts in the second half but grabbed seven rebounds, second-best on the team behind Nathan Mensah.
Avid sports fan and historian of basketball, baseball, football and soccer. UC San Diego and San Diego State alumni living in America’s Finest City. Diverse team following across multiple sports leagues, but Aztecs come first in college athletics.