SDSU ready to take on the Golden Bears

Miles Heide celebrates against St. Mary's last Friday. (Deanna Gold/EVT)

Credit: Deanna Gold/ EVT Sports

San Diego State, coming off a successful Vegas trip where they won the Continental Tire Main Event by beating Saint Mary’s and Washington, is now set to play the California Golden Bears. 

Cal is 2-4 on the season. They are coming off losses to Montana Valley at home, as well as UTEP and Tulane on a neutral floor. Through six games, they rank 187th in KenPom. They don’t have a win against a team in the top 200. 

General observations-

Cal is in their first year under head coach Mark Madsen. Cal plays a very slow tempo, mostly by slowing things down on the defensive end. Madsen’s teams at Utah Valley generally struggled with turnovers, and Cal follows that trend. This Cal team also shoots a lot of free throws. 

How to guard Cal-

Cal has a better offense than their record would suggest. They have multiple ball handlers, great size, and almost everyone can shoot the ball reasonably well. They exercise terrific drive and kick principles and generate inside-out shots for their perimeter players. They don’t settle for midrange jumpers often, preferring to finish at the rim or shoot a three. 

When they do miss a shot, they excel at getting their own rebound. Reflecting the personality of their head coach, nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’ at Stanford for his tenacity, they rank 33rd in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage according to KenPom. The Aztecs have improved their rebounding since the beginning of the season, but they’ll need to focus on that aspect of the game as this is the best offensive rebounding team the Aztecs have faced since they played BYU. 

The other thing Cal does really well is draw fouls. Wing Jaylon Tyson is the main culprit, but center Fardaws Aimaq also excels at drawing contact. LeDee has been good at keeping his feet on the floor and staying vertical when contesting shots this season. He’ll need to keep that up and not fall for shot fakes. He is too important to be on the bench with foul trouble. 

Tyson will likely be the responsibility of Waters and Parrish at different points. Both have struggled with fouls at points early in the season, but the depth should help the Aztecs guard him in waves. 

Credit: Deanna Gold/ EVT Sports

Cal’s weakness  is their ball security. They commit turnovers at an accelerated rate, and the Aztecs have shown some ability to force turnovers. If SDSU can force 15 or 16 turnovers in the game, it will be hard for Cal to keep up. 

Lastly, despite his size, Aimaq hasn’t shown to be much of a threat in the post this season and has never been much better than average in that regard. He is a versatile big ma and can’t be taken lightly. In the post, though, he should be single-covered. The Aztecs will often double the post, but they should trust LeDee and Heide to guard Aimaq one one-on-one so that they don’t leave shooters open. 

How to attack Cal-

Defense is where the Golden Bears have really struggled this season. According to KenPom, this is the worst defense the Aztecs will face all season.

Cal is surprisingly good in transition defense, so running against them may be tough unless the Aztecs are running off of a turnover. Where they struggle is in the half-court.They often leave shooters open. When they do close out correctly, the backside rotations are often a step slow, leaving the rim wide open. If the Aztecs can force Cal into rotation, whether through the drive or entering the ball into the post, they’ll be in good shape. 

The post should be a point of emphasis for the Aztecs. Cal hasn’t been great at defending the post this season, and Aimaq is averaging 4.5 fouls per 40 minutes. Jaedon LeDee has been the top scorer in the nation this season, averaging almost 27 points per game. Let him go to work and try to disrupt Cal’s minutes distributions as much as possible. Cal has plenty of height, but if Aimaq is forced off the floor early, it will go a long way toward an Aztec victory. 

Players to watch-

Jaylon Tyson, #20, 18.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists

Tyson is the main threat for the Golden Bears. He is a capable scorer at the rim and behind the arc and excels at drawing contact and getting to the charity stripe, where he’s shooting 78% this season. He is also a passing threat and helps make his teammates better. The Aztecs’ stable of wings (Parrish, Waters, and Byrd) will have their hands full with this one. He collected 24 points, nine rebounds, and five assists in Cal’s most recent game against Tulane. 

I'd like this amount to  

Fardaws Aimaq, #0, 16 points, 8.8 rebounds. 1.2 assists

Aimaq has not been an efficient post-scorer this season. Where he has excelled is as a roll man and on putbacks, as Cal’s playmakers draw extra attention and free up Aimaq to get easy buckets. If the Aztecs can successfully guard the playmakers on the perimeter, it will go a long way to slowing down Aimaq. 

Jalen Cone, #15, 15.6 points. 1.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists

Cone is slightly undersized at 5’11, but he is an efficient player, both scoring and passing in the pick and roll. He’s good at getting around screens and staying in front of his assignment. He often overbelos when off-ball and struggles to contest shooters when he closes out. 

X-factor- Turnovers

Cal commits more turnovers than an average team and also forced less turnovers than an average team. The Aztecs are the opposite, forcing more turnovers and committing less than an average team. If the Aztecs can control the ball by committing ten or less turnovers while forcing 15 or more, it should lead to easy points and help hold Cal’s offense in check. 

(Visited 246 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *