Patience with Parrish will pay off for the Aztecs

Patience with Parrish will pay off for the Aztecs. (Deanna Goldberg/EVT)

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Micah Parrish blocks Isaiah Stevens’s shot at the rim. (Don De Mars/EVT)

Micah Parrish started the season strong offensively. He reached double digits in scoring 11 times over the season’s first 16 contests and shot over 44% in 10 of those games. Overall, he averaged 10.6 points and shot 45% from the field during that span.

Beginning with the January 13 trip to New Mexico, Parrish has been in a shooting slump. He has shot 33% from the field and averaged 8.1 points in the past 11 games. Only twice, in back-to-back contests against Utah State and Air Force in early February, did he score more than nine points.

The downturn over the past four games has been even more pronounced. Parrish has made only eight of his last 33 attempts and 2 of 14 from three, while his scoring average has dropped to just 5.8 points per game.

“All you do is trust the work, and they put the work in,” head coach Brian Dutcher said on Thursday afternoon when asked how the staff can help Parrish. “They work hard every day. It’s not just practice. They’re here in the morning. They’re here at night by themselves, and they’re working. Now, they have to be rewarded for their work. And that’s confidence, and that’s belief, knowing that your coaches believe in you. And play your game, if the shot doesn’t go in and it’s the right shot, we’ll live with it.”

Micah Parrish brings up the ball. (Deanna Goldberg/EVT)

Dutcher’s difficult task is continuing to lean on Parrish through this difficult stretch, even as others on the roster deserve more time. Miles Byrd’s emergence, Reese Waters’ polished NBA-type game, Darrion Trammell’s poised play, and Lamont Butler’s elite physicality create great competition. Parrish has seen his minutes drop more than three minutes per game over the last 11 contests.

The balancing act Dutcher has in front of him is allowing Parrish to play through the slump while minimizing its negative impact on the team. Patience is the key because Parrish possesses a quality that wins games in March. He is clutch.

Down 14 to FAU late in the second half in the National Semifinal a year ago, Parrish made his only two field goals of the game. He hit a pair of threes in two minutes to narrow the lead, switch momentum, and eventually set the stage for Butler’s heroics.

In the South Regional Final, the Aztecs had five assists in the second half; Parrish had three of them. SDSU clung to a 55-52 lead with 4:56 left in the game. Over the waning minutes of the game, Parrish scored six points and brought in five rebounds as the Aztecs scratched and scraped to a 71-64 victory over the top seed in the entire tournament.

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“Micah’s so tough,” Jaedon LeDee said Thursday. “He’s a tough-minded kid. He comes out and competes. He’s going to play defense. It doesn’t matter if the ball is going in or not, I know he’s going to be out there with me. I got some soldiers out there with me on the court.”

Micah Parrish switches onto Jaelen House. (Don De Mars/EVT)

There’s recent precedence to suggest trusting the persevering labor of a senior who has worked tirelessly for the Aztecs will pay off for the team. Last year, Darrion Trammell went through similar scoring struggles.

Beginning January 7, 2023, nearly a year before Parrish’s slump, Trammell only occasionally produced offensive outbursts in conference like he had in the non-conference season. Dutcher stayed with the transfer. At the end of the year, Trammell earned Most Outstanding Player of the South Regional in leading the Aztecs past Alabama and Creighton and into the Final Four.

“Keep shooting,” Jaedon LeDee responded on Thursday when asked what Parrish can learn from Trammell’s experience last year. “We know what Micah Parish can do. Everybody goes through their ups and downs in a season. In the game, I’m telling him, ‘Keep shooting, keep believing.’ He puts so much work in. He should never doubt himself, ever.”

Parrish’s value to the Aztecs goes far beyond scoring. To his credit, he has not allowed his shooting struggles to impact other aspects of his game. He rarely turns the ball over, is a willing rebounder, and is a versatile defender.

Above all, Micah Parrish is a winner. When SDSU enters the win-or-go home portion of its schedule, it will need No. 3 at his best.

Patience now will pay off down the road.

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