SDSU Aztecs Basketball: Takeaways from Week 2

Credit: SDSU

Photo Credit: Garrison/EVT

The second week of San Diego State Aztecs men’s basketball action saw games that finished largely the same way, but got there through different paths.

They have been winning ugly games.

Ultimately, an ugly win is better than a moral victory. That being said, Aztec fans would really appreciate a game not coming down to the final minute.

Offensive Inconsistency

The offense continued to not look great this week, but it was for different reasons each game.

The game against the Sun Devils was more of the same as the first two games of the season, poor shooting from behind the arc and the free-throw line. The offensive rating of 97 was enough for the win, just barely, but a lot of points were left on the floor.

The game against the Mavericks had a major twist in narrative. The Aztecs shot 40% from behind the arc and 88% from the free-throw line, highlighted by Keshad Johnson going 4-for-4 in the final minutes to seal the game.

The issue was turnovers. The Aztecs had 17 turnovers compared to 16 shots made. That’s a bad ratio and it prevented the Aztecs from building a lead against a well below average UT-Arlington team.

The season is still young, and players are still figuring out the offense. Bradley looked much more comfortable within the offense Saturday night, and it resulted in him being more efficient as well as finding his teammates for open looks more often.

Chad Baker-Mazara has not even played 40 minutes yet, but when he finds a rhythm he will be another threat. Guys like Seiko and Dinwiddie should be able to hit shots at some point. Lamont Butler is coming into his own as a lead guard.

This offense has shown different things at different times. If they can put it all together, they will look good. With Georgetown and possibly USC looming, the question remains, how long will it take to put it together?

Lamont Butler is showing out

As mentioned earlier, Butler is coming into his own. Over the past two games he’s averaged 11.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2.5 steals.

He brings an attacking mindset that this program has been missing for years. His goal every possession is to finish at the rim. Players with that mindset are the ones who break defenses and make their teammates better.

He still commits turnovers with his aggressive playstyle, sometimes over penetrating and losing control. His drive and kick game has gotten better though. It’s easier to teach a player to slow down than it is to teach them to speed up. As he continues to grow his game he should commit less turnovers, increasing his efficiency and team impact.

His defense has been great as well. He still occasionally gets burned gambling for steals, but he can also be very disruptive and his coast to coast dunks after picking a player’s pocket bring the team and the Viejas crown to life.

Dinwiddie should get more minutes

Keith Dinwiddie has gotten limited time but has flashed in the time he has gotten. Like everyone else, he has struggled from the field. He’s shooting 33% so far.

His defense looks much improved, though, and his rhythm may come at any time. When he does he can be a flamethrower, and should be especially helpful because he is a shooter, and the team needs shooters. Dinwiddie is currently averaging 8.3 minutes per game, but the way he has looked, it should probably be closer to 15.

He has the ability to spark the offense in a way that few players on this roster can. Getting him time to get in a rhythm should help the team both immediately as well as long term when the team needs a shooter in march.


Rebounding

Rebounding was an interesting issue in both games this past week. The Aztecs did not actually get outrebounded in either game. They were +6 against the Sun Devils and even against the Mavericks.

Both opponents were able to use timely offensive rebounds with deadly efficiency, though. The Aztecs defense would make a stop, and then give up a rebound and a score. In Arizona State’s case it was just a matter of scoring off of seemingly every put back. In the game against UT-Arlington, the Mavericks had a better rebounding rate than the Aztecs, despite finishing with the same amount of total rebounds.

The lack of rebounding made it hard for the Aztecs to pull away in either game. Elite defense does not matter as much if the team cannot end defensive possessions.

To his credit, Matt Bradley was a much more versatile player this week, leading the team in rebounding with seven per game. His scoring is not at the level it was at Cal yet, but he found other ways to contribute. The team will need to work on boxing out and securing rebounds before facing Georgetown in the Wooden Classic on Thursday. 

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Tron Johnson
Native San Diegan living in Montana. Big time Aztec Basketball fan. Creator of Aztec Breakdown. Hoping to help people enjoy basketball more by increasing their understanding of it.

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