The highly anticipated debut of transfer Darrion Trammell wasn’t the breakthrough start the 11,687 fans at Viejas Arena hoped for in SDSU’s 102-52 win over San Diego Christian on Tuesday.
Trammell seemed very composed with the ball. He was far from perfect on the floor but executed a step-back jumper nicely. As one of the shortest players on the team, the step back is an important way for him to efficiently create separation. He will be difficult to defend from mid-range and beyond the arc. He hit two-of-five from the three-point line.
Trammell and Lamont Butler:
One question coming into the season was how Trammell and Lamont Butler would play together.
“If they play well, they’ll both be out there together. I told them they have to be two to one assisted turnovers,” Dutcher said postgame. “They can’t say they’re point guards, they have to play like point guards.”
Butler led the Aztecs with six assists. His three turnovers against an NAIA school is concerning, but he reached Dutcher’s two-to-one benchmark. Trammell had four assists against only one turnover. Even if they were not the immediate beneficiary of an assist in the box score, when both of them were in the game together, SDSU shared the ball better than when other units were on the floor.
The duo played exactly 12 minutes together against the Hawks, and the results were promising. Eight of the Aztecs’ 24 total assists occurred when Trammell and Butler were on the court at the same time, leading to a scoring differential of +18.
Overall, Butler had no points in the first half and went two-for-two from the floor in the second in just over 19 minutes of play. Trammell, likewise, was scoreless in the first 20 minutes but poured in eight in the second half. The Seattle transfer made two three-point field goals. They were both wide-open looks set up by Butler’s dribble penetration.
Trammell and Matt Bradley:
Another question for the Aztecs heading into the year is who was going to be the main offensive weapon for the team, Trammell or Matt Bradley. They averaged about the same amount of points last season. The San Bernardino native averaged 16.9 points for the Aztecs. Bradley had 12 20-point games last year, with his highest being 30 points against Wyoming on Feb. 28. The Marin City native averaged 17.3 points for the Redhawks last season. Trammell had 11 20-point games last year, with the highest being 39 in the Western Athletic Conference semifinal game against Abilene Christian.
The key for Trammell and Bradley going forward is bringing the same scoring while also keeping the ball moving on offense. Both used numerous dribbles to get to their spots a season ago. With all the threats around them, stopping the ball by bouncing it frequently could be a gift to the defense. If the Aztecs can be elite moving the ball, Bradley and Trammell would be the greatest benefactors. The duo would thrive in the space created by multiple passes. Their opportunity to score on their second touch would be greater than their first.
Against the Hawks in their first series out on the court, Bradley got a lay-up to open the scoring. After that, the offense went missing for the only time all evening. Trammell and Bradley both missed a pair of threes before substituting out just over four minutes into the game, and San Diego Christian up 4-2.
At the start of the second half, they played 4:25 minutes together. Points and playmaking abilities started to show for both of them on the court together. Trammell went one-for-two from the floor, and Bradley made a lay-up and assisted Butler on a bucket in transition.
With 7:31 left, Bradley substituted in with Trammell still on the court. Bradley and Trammell both executed fast break lay-ups that were set up by Keshad Johnson. They substituted out 1:28 later. The Aztecs were ahead by 49.
In just over 13 minutes of play together, seven of the Aztecs’ 24 assists were made. Much of that time overlapped with Butler on the court as well.
Other details on Trammell’s game:
Trammell left Seattle as the program’s second all-time in steals per game (2.3) and third in program history in assists per game (5.1). He is capable of impacting a game even if he does not score.
In a closed-door scrimmage against UCLA, his all-around game was on display. Trammell played just over 31 minutes, went eight-for-15 from the floor, four-for-eight beyond the arc, and four-for-six from the charity stripes for a total of 24 points. He recorded three assists, three steals, and two defensive rebounds.
Defensively, Trammell looked great applying full-court pressure against San Diego Christian. He had three steals on the evening, covering players like Simiane Stewart-Jenkins, who is 5’9. The Aztecs played against a roster that had two players over 6’6. Monday night’s season opener against Cal State Fullerton, which starts no one under 6’1, will be a truer test of how he fits defensively.
Trammell totaled 22:14 minutes against the Hawks. In his first taste of Viejas Arena, he displayed every part of the game that earned him Preseason Mountain West Newcomer of the Year. It was not the breakthrough performance Aztec Nation coveted, but that is coming. It’s just a matter of time.