Teardown Artist… the Rebuttal

In response to Rany Jazayerli, San Diego Sports Insider writer Tucker Peterson breakdown the article “http://grantland.com/features/aj-preller-mlb-san-diego-padres-national-league-west/”.

This past week, Grantland.com writer Rany Jazayerli teared apart the 2015 Padres. More specifically, the aggressiveness of first-year General Manager AJ Preller and his many off-season moves to acquire talent. Rany refers to Preller as the “sucker at the table” when it comes to other GM’s in the league. Although he may have some valid points, he missed the big picture… Jazayerli is not a Padres fan.

The Padres have not made the post-season since 2006 with Bochy. They went to the playoffs the previous season as well under Bochy, yet had an underwhelming record of 82-80. The Padres have not won a post season series since their World Series run in 1998. They haven’t had a player voted into the All-Star game by the fans since 1998 (Tony Gwynn of course). They had a chance to make the post season in 2007 but melted at the end of the season when they could have clinched the division. Similarly, in 2010 they won 90 games but had a late season breakdown losing ten straight during the summer. They ended the season losing their last 3 games, including a 1-game playoff against the San Francisco Giants. See the trend…

As a San Diego native, what does it mean to be a Padres fan? Our team has little track-record of sustained success. Padres rarely have had big names on their roster, but when they have they have been successful. Look at the last 5 years; their roster has consisted of a bunch of nobodies or washed up players in the twilights’ of their careers. The last time they had a player that anyone could remember was Adrian Gonzalez.. that was 2010.

The point to be made is that their has been little buzz around the Padres in the last decade. There are the die hard fans that will always be there, but lets face it, no one wants to see a losing team. Worse yet, a losing team with the only identifiable player being Chase Headley. What AJ Preller did this offseason was bring that buzz to the city of San Diego again. Yes, the team has been inconsistent and at times down right awful. They have also brought excitement to the ball park. Padres’ management showed the city of San Diego that they are making winning-baseball a priority. Putting big names out their like Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, James Shields, and Craig Kimbrel make people interested again. It makes fans want to come out to the park. It makes them want to stay until the 9th inning. It makes them prideful that they have players they can look up to and root for.

Let’s break down the trades and moves that were made this offseason. Who did we acquire? Obviously the 5 aforementioned players, all previous All-Stars with a good track record. Let’s start with Upton. 4 prospect/minor league players; IF Jace Peterson, OF Dustin Peterson, P Max Fried, and OF Mallex Smith. Some may argue that Jace Peterson is developing into a consistent major league player, but the same cannot be necessarily said for the other players. For years the only good thing to say about the Padres is their farm system. For years fans have heard this and when we see players develop they get traded away. This time we actually got something in return. Now I know Justin Upton may only be here a season (and maybe even less), but he is a premiere player in the MLB. We have not had a home run hitter like him since Adrian Gonzalez. It may come to a point where we need to trade him to get some farm system in return, but you never know how the rest of the season will play out.

That leads me to my next player, Matt Kemp. say what you want about his numbers, he is still an every day starter in the middle of your lineup and has played exceptional defense this year. I have heard many analyst rip on Matt Kemp and his defense which baffles me; the guy leads the NL in outfield assists and is consistently making plays. Again, Rany is an outsider looking in. He doesn’t watch Padres games every night, let alone probably ever. Furthermore, barely half the season is over. Matt Kemp has historically been a second-half player (see 2014), and it is the second half. Look at his stats over the last month. Look at his stats over the last 6 games – 11/24 3 HRs, 6 RBI. It is too early to judge an off season of trades half way through a season. It is actually ridiculous…

Who did the Padres give up for Kemp? Yasmani Grandal as everyone knows is having a great season. With that said, Padres cannot be blamed. It is safe to say that Grandal did not have a good rapport with the Padres pitching staff. He was also busted for PEDs after only 1 season of pro baseball. He also had injuries. In many people’s book it was a great trade, and it still may be. No one knows what will happen to Grandal moving forward. I also feel like Rany completely overlooked the Derek Norris addition. He has well surpassed any starting catcher the Padres have had since… honestly I don’t know because we have rarely and a consistent starting catcher. Although Derek Norris is in the middle of a slump, he still has 11 Home Runs, 45 RBIs, leads the league in extra base-hits by a catcher, and also leads the league in caught stealing. In my personal opinion, if Norris had not slumped his batting average towards the end of the first-half (strike outs went up dramatically), he should have been considered an All-Star snub over Grandal.

The rest of the moves seem to be a wash. Although I really liked Seth Smith last year and the Padres are hurting for left-handed hitting, they still had a surplus of outfielders. Relief pitcher Brandan Mauer, who was acquired for Smith, has done an outstanding job out of the bullpen this season. Although we had to take on the contract of Melvin Upton Jr., we still obtained arguably the best closer in baseball over the past 4 seasons and also dumped an 8-million dollar year of Carlos Quentin, who is now out of baseball. They also dumped an injury prone, no-show at the plate Cameron Maybin who had $15 million due on the remaining 2 years of his contract (club option in 3rd year). Although he is playing well, he became expendable after the addition of all the outfielders.

This brings me to Wil Myers. Another big name who recently won the AL Rookie of the Year award. Someone who people can identify with and be excited about blossoming into a consistent All-Star in San Diego. Although his injury concerns have continued, he started the season on a tear and showed a lot of promise. The Myers trade did see the departure of SS Trea Turner, who the Padres could use. On the contrary, Will Middlebrooks has been recently switched to SS and seems to have alleviated some of the poor play at the position from an offensive standpoint, while holding it down defensively.

The bottom line of this articles perception is that of the San Diego fan base. Rany Jazayeri may see San Diego as an easy target, and who wouldn’t with how the season has been going. However, it is quite obvious that Rany does not feel or know the heartbeat of a San Diego Padres fan. He does not mention the increase of attendance (top 15 in MLB; Bottom 10 last year) nor the increase of merchandise, etc. Though this team has not been playing to expectations, at least their are those expectations. At least someone in the head office cares about putting a winning product on the field. At least we have excitement.

By Tucker Peterson

#6 San Diego State Demolishes Utah State

San Diego State University Men’s Basketball took on Utah State at home in the Viejas Arena on Tuesday night. In their previous matchup, it took San Diego State a career high 31-point game by Xavier Thames and overtime to get the win on the road. In that game Utah State played very well against a dominant SDSU defense. They went 9/18 from 3-pt range. Utah State also played well defensively in that game. Tuesday night, was not the same.

San Diego State played smothering defense from start to finish. If you saw the game you know what I am talking about. They pressed and contested every single shot and did not give any easy looks at all throughout the game. They played with a lot of energy and were persistent on the defensive side of the ball. SDSU only gave up 35 points until 2:47 left in the game, when Steve Fisher put players 8-12 in the game. Utah State only managed 34.0% from the field and 5/13 from 3-pt range. Two of those 3’s were made on Utah State’s garbage-time 10-0 run to finish the game.

The Aztec offense produced early and well. Unlike the first meeting, SDSU’s role players played must more efficiently on the offensive side of the ball. Skylar Spencer looked featured in the opening minutes scoring 6 quick points at the basket. The Sophomore forward finished the game with 10 points 3 rebounds and 4 big blocks. He was getting pretty good looks and was finishing throughout the game going 5/7 from the field. They also had Matt Shrigley score a game-high 15 points off the bench. He got it going early in the first half as well as he hit three back-to-back 3-pointers, shooting 4/7 from 3 overall. They also go solid production from Josh Davis who is still nursing the knee injury. Davis went 6/10 for 12 points and 8 rebounds.

SDSU did have sub-par nights from its top-2 scorers. Xavier Thames had a season low 4 points as he had a career high 31 before. Winston Shepard had an off night, missing a lot of open looks, only scoring 4 points on 2/7 shooting. Dwayne Polee, who has been on fire as of late, also had a mild night only scoring one 3-pointer all night.

The Aztecs did not need that production though. Their depth this season is excellent. A lot of role players came alive this game, which is very promising as the NCAA Tournament approaches. If Matt Shrigley is making 3’s, than the Aztecs are going to be a very tough team to beat. Skylar Spencer is a perfect example of this. We need his presence around the basket and he needs to be an asset to our offense. Although Xavier Thames had a low scoring night, he still managed 5 assists and 5 rebounds. He is coming alive as of late with assists. It looks to me like he is trying to work on his game as a point-guard as he looks to go to the NBA next season. If these players can all play good ball and Xavier can continue to dish the ball while getting back to his high scoring self, than SDSU looks in great position to make a run in the tournament.



Lessons Learned from the Loss in Wyoming

San Diego State University Men’s Basketball Team suffered it’s first conference loss, 2nd overall, to the Cowboys in Wyoming this past Tuesday. The Aztecs looked very sluggish at times and gave up uncharacteristic dunks and easy buckets throughout the game. Wyoming’s offense also managed to cool star player Xavier Thames with their zone scheme. With the Airforce game today, here is what SDSU’s first MWC loss means…

Live and Die By Xavier Thames…

San Diego State’s star player is by far senior point guard Xavier Thames. He averages over 18 points per game, and even more impressive, he has averaged close to 21 points per game in conference play. Tuesday night, Xavier was held without a field goal through the first half and went 3/16 overall. He scored 13 points, which was his lowest in 12 games. In games at Boise State and at Utah, where San Diego was down in the late minutes, Xavier came through in the clutch. Against Boise State, SDSU was down 14 points and he led the initial comeback run with 9 straight points . Thames also had the final assist to Dwayne Polee for the game-winning three. Maybe it was the overall play of Wyoming and the Aztec defense, but Xavier finally failed to come through in the clutch on Tuesday night.

…He Can’t Do it All

Something positive from Xavier’s off night was the play of his fellow Aztec starters. Five Aztecs, including Thames, scored in double-digits. Winston Shepard had 11 points, Josh Davis and J.J. O’Brien both had 10 points, and Dwayne Polee had a team-high 15 points off the bench. Even with the loss, this production is something to be happy about. San Diego State is much deeper this year than it has been in recent years. Say goodbye to only Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley scoring points.

SDSU has a lot of players this year that can score all with their different styles. Despite the knee injury, Josh Davis has managed to be very aggressive in the paint with both scoring and rebounds. J.J. O’Brien has been banging down low as well, but also has good ball handling skills, has a nice spin move, and can hit shallow shots. Winston Shepard has tremendous potential and is currently the Aztecs second leading scorer. He needs to continue to develop and learn to finish at the basket. His mid-range shot is very pretty though. If SDSU wants to be a serious contender in the NCAA Tournament, they will need to continue to have production out of everyone.

Dwayne Polee is Gaining Confidence

Last year Dwayne Polee was named the Pre-Season favorite for Mountain West Conference Newcomer of the Year Award. So much for that. Polee rarely got playing time last year. This year Steve Fisher is giving him the ball more and Polee is taking advantage of the opportunity by making plays.

Dwayne Polee is very lengthy, athletic, and plays terrific defense, a prototypical Steve Fisher player. Polee causes a lot of turnovers and generates points for this Aztec offense. He has been much needed firepower off the bench, and  is continuing to develop and make big shots. Most importantly, Thames and the rest of the team trust him. He will be a good addition to the starting lineup in 2014-15.

SDSU Probably Won’t Be a #1 Seed in the NCAA Tournament

There has been much talk about the top 4 seeds in the tournament this year. Although SDSU sat ranked #5 before the Wyoming loss, they still had potential to be a #1 seed with only the one loss. The loss in Wyoming pretty much seals SDSU’s fate. Or does it?

There is still a lot of basketball to be played. Arizona already lost again last night and Syracuse had a scare earlier this week. Wichita State’s schedule is ridiculously easy (they haven’t played a ranked opponent all season), but without a loss they should expect to hold onto a #1 seed. #3 Florida also plays #14 Kentucky this week and could easily lose that game as well.

First and foremost, the Aztecs need to keep on winning. They still have two games against New Mexico who was ranked earlier in the season and are currently projected to be a lock for the NCAA Tournament. There is the possibility they will have to play New Mexico a third time in the MWC Tournament, as well as playing Boise State and Wyoming again — who both gave the Aztecs troubles. On a majority of websites, SDSU sits at a #2 seed, with a few saying a #3 seed. Steve Fisher and company needs to make sure he keeps his players focused and try to run the table in the MWC.

Don’t Play Down to Your Opponent

San Diego State has a phenomenal defense which is nationally ranked. Often times this season we have seen the Aztecs play down to their opponents. It as if they aren’t playing with as much energy or urgency. Perhaps it is because they assume they are just going to win the game anyways. Well that mentality finally caught up to SDSU in Wyoming.

It seemed as if the Aztecs had control for the first quarter of the game. It also seemed as if they could run away with the game after taking a little lead. Then they allowed the Cowboys get back into it. They got slow and lazy on defense and gave up a lot of points they should not have. After Wyoming tied the game at 22-22 with 4:23 to go in the first half, the Cowboys did not look back. SDSU trailed by 9 at the half and never took the lead again. The Aztecs need to take a deep breath and come to play every game to win.

SDSU Falls to Wyoming, So Might Their Ranking

San Diego State looked to have a repeat of the 14-pt come from behind win in Boise State when they went down by 16 to the Cowboys in Wyoming.

This game was a little different. The Aztecs looked very slow on defense and were just not getting back to the ball. They were getting sliced through and Wyoming was converting open look dunks back-to-back. Maybe the Aztecs were winded — being over 7,000 feet above sea level after being at the marker in San Diego. SDSU held a lead through the opening portion of the first half, but then fell apart. It looked as if they were playing lazy, assuming they were going to be right back in it. Before we knew it, the Aztecs saw themselves down 9 at halftime.

Wyoming also played terrific defense. They played this zone scheme which truly worked against the Aztecs. San Diego State’s true strength is on defense, and their offense looked easily tolerable with the way the Cowboys were playing defense. Perhaps the key to the game was Xavier Thames. SDSU has relied heavily on Thames this season, and he has delivered.

It was a little different in Wyoming. Thames was hitting his free throws early but was not finishing and could not shoot. Thames went into the half with zero converted field goals and finished the game 3/16 with 13 points. This was Thame’s lowest point total since SDSU routed upstart St. Katherine 118-35 when he scored 10 points and did not play the majority of the game. That was a span of 12 games in which Xavier averaged over 20 points.

SDSU managed to climb back into the game, getting within 4 points with less than a minute to go. Another heads up play by Wyoming put them back up by 6 almost immediately and pretty much secured the game. The Aztecs could just not seem to put a full run together without letting Wyoming continue to get on the score board. 

Hopefully SDSU learns from this and comes to play for all their opponents. This is a late season game here in Mid-February, so I do not think we should be too down on this as fans. SDSU will probably drop out of the Top-5, but still should get a 2-3 seed in the tournament. They need to focus on the rest of the season as they still have two games verse New Mexico and have to play the MWC Tournament.

Thought of the Week – Michael Sam

A lot of controversy has risen over the past week with Michael Sam coming out as an openly Gay athlete.

I usually do not try to get into politics, but I will shed some light on the story with my opinion.

It is the 21st century and times are changing. Whether you like it or not, our society is consistently going in a liberal direction. Homosexuals have existed throughout the history of people, and are showing their colors more in recent times.

So why such a big deal?

American culture has driven people to abide by the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” mentality. This mind set is becoming an outdated one. Gay people have been in sports for as long as sports have been around. They just have not been open about it. The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell debate may have been fine for those straight people who are uncomfortable with the thought of gay actions, but what about for the Gay Athletes? You have to think that inside these people, they are torn up. They are battling with this reality that they are a homosexual athlete and they cannot tell the world who they really are due to fear of being judged.

Our society dictates this fear of being judged.

When it really comes down to it, if the guy can play, does it matter if he likes women or men? If he is a team player who can contribute to a win, does it matter what his sexual orientation is? So why is this such a big deal, why are people getting so worked up?

Let’s think about this for a second. The only reason this would be an issue in a locker room is because another player feels uncomfortable being around a gay player. Taking it even deeper, why would this player feel uncomfortable? Not that I have ever been in a Pro-Locker room, but from what I have heard athletes shower together and walk around the locker room naked on a consistent basis. So is that what the homophobic athletes are worried about? They do not want a gay guy to look at their goods?

Stop being so high on yourself, bro.

You think you are such a hot stud, that this gay guy is going to see your junk and immediately try to bend you over and rape you in the shower.

Seriously, though. When it comes down to it, that is the only reason someone could be uncomfortable about having a gay player in the locker room. Players need to be more comfortable with their sexuality and get passed the fact that their is a homosexual athlete among them. And the reality is, there have been plenty of gay athletes in locker rooms throughout time and nothing like this has ever taken place. The fact that another athlete would think anything like this would happen in a locker room is just plain stupid. Additionally, couldn’t you say the fact that you walk around naked around other guys makes you gay? Obviously it does not, when you know yourself that you are straight. It is all about adjusting your mentality to a modern, 21st century approach.

The truth though is that this will bring attention to whatever locker room Michael Sam enters in the 2014 season. The media will surround the team and it may be a distraction. In that regard, I understand why you may not want an openly Gay Athlete on your team. But every player fits every team differently. Some teams like controversial players, and other teams like players with no baggage. Look at San Diego Chargers and them drafting Manti T’eo. A handful of team passed on the outstanding college player because of his fake-girlfriend controversy. T’eo had a tremendous amount of media attention throughout the draft and entering the 2013 season. The Chargers handled the situation excellent by keeping T’eo away from reporters and protecting him to enable his growth as a pro player.

Now let’s look at this specific case, in Michael Sam. The guy is a great player. I hear NFL scouts on TV saying this guy is nothing more than a middle round pick. I have seen other mock drafts where he is projected to be drafted in the 2nd round. Michael Sam was a unanimous 1st Team All American and was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Some scouts say “I do not pay any attention to Conference Player of the Year Awards.” This may have some validity in weaker conferences, but the SEC is known as the best Conference in College Football. Furthermore, the SEC is widely regarded as the best defensive conference in the nation. SEC has historically produced plenty of defensive pro’s.

Lets look at the last 7 SEC Defensive Player of the Years:

2012 – Jarvis Jones

2011 – Morris Claiborne

2010 – Patrick Peterson

2009 – Rolando McClain

2008 – Eric Berry

2007 – Glen Dorsey

2006 – Patrick Willis…

***EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE PLAYERS WAS DRAFTED IN THE 1ST ROUND; None of these players were drafted past the 11th pick***

The bottom line is, Michael Sam is a good player who has proven himself in the College Rankings. With the combine and pro days coming up, his draft stock may rise or fall. With that said, he is still talented enough, and should be drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft.

The thing Americans and sports fans have to realize is that this whole situation is inevitable. There are gay athletes everywhere, and eventually someone was going to come out. This is the first of many. There will be a growing period and players will have to get used to this new dynamic.

The key will be is how this effects the locker room, how this effects team collaboration and bonding. The truth is, it will only go as far as the straight athletes allow it to. It is solely on the straight athletes to take this gay player under their wing and treat him like they would any other teammate. They need to band together as brothers and fight in the trenches. They will need to joke around and make fun of each other just like guys do. Michael Sam will need to be open to joking about his sexual orientation. Often times, good friends tease each other about anything just to make it into a bonding experiment. Sam should embrace this in order to make the uncomfortable straight players feel a little more at ease as these actions promote a friendly atmosphere. Example: Michael Sam gets a clutch sack in an NFL game and his teammate says “I love you, you big gay mother fucker!!” and Sam says back: “I love you to, you dumb piece of shit!” It will take both sides to help make this situation fizzle away into the normality of our society.

SDSU Gets Gritty Comeback Win at Boise St.


Down 64-65 with less than 20 seconds to go, one basket separated the Aztecs from a comeback victory. Xavier Thames drove to the basket taking on multiple defenders, dishing the ball to Dwayne Polee for the beautiful game-winning 3-point shot. Boise State’s Derrick Marks still had a chance as he air balled a three with two Aztecs in his face as time expired. This final segment does not even tell the whole story.

Going into the game, most knew that these two teams matchup well against each other. Over the last few years, it seems as if every Aztec/Bronco game has come down to the last play. Boise State is excellent on the perimeter with an outstanding 3-point game. SDSU has the best Opponent FG% in the country, and excels in the 3-point version of the category as well. SDSU also get tons of boards, currently ranked 16 in the country. Boise St. is third in the MWC in rebounds per game.

The 3-point scoring would tell the tail of the first half for the Boise State Broncos. They were excellent and every shot just seemed to go in. SDSU was not playing poor defense necessarily, Boise St. was just on fire. At one point Boise St. was 5/8 from 3 point range in the first half and SDSU had only shot 3 from the arc.

San Diego State went down big early 17-7. They got within two on a few occasions (24-26, 26-28), but just could not seem to cool down Boise’s shooting. The Aztecs also made a lot of poor decisions, allowing a total of 15 turnovers, 9 in the first half. This led to possessions for the Broncos who were also capitalizing on second chance points. SDSU went into the half trailing 33-42.

Josh Davis, who did not play Saturday against Colorado State, was playing with a knee brace. He was visually limited, as you can see him grimace at times. Davis bruised his knee bone in practice last week. Although the country’s 3rd leading rebounder was injured, he still brought his offensive game and made the most of his opportunity. He only managed to carral a conference play-low of 5 rebounds, but turned all of his 3 offensive boards into points. Davis played very aggressive in the paint was was dominating inside. He went 5-7 from the field for 10 points.

The Aztecs continued to struggle for the first part of the 2nd Half. Boise State was dominating going up 13 a few different occasions. With 13:37 left, SDSU was down 43-57, Boise State’s biggest lead of the game at 14. By the 11:48 mark the Broncos still had a convincing 13 point lead, besting the Aztecs 46-59. Then the comeback began.

The Aztecs notched up their defense. You could just feel the energy of SDSU’s swarming defense causing turnovers and shutting down the Boise State offense. The fans at the Taco Bell Arena were going nuts the entire game. You knew that all they wanted to do was rush the court with a victory over a #5 team. As mentioned in a previous article, the Aztec program has a bullseye on it’s back and every team in the MWC is going to give them their best game.

The Aztecs got a few turnovers which led to some points. Xavier Thames at one point had 9 straight points. Before you knew it, SDSU had gone on a 15-0 run and led the Broncos 61-59. The defense is obviously what made this happen. Boise State only managed only 23 points in the second half after scoring 42 in the first. Aztecs were consistent scoring 33 and 34 in the first and second halves, respectively.

Thames really is making a strong argument for Player of the Year with these performances. He pretty much carried the Aztecs offense on his back scoring 23 points (15 in the 2nd half) on 5/7 shooting (3/4 from 3-pt) and 10-11 from the free throw line. His one miss was somewhat crucial as it would have put the Aztecs up 63-61 (instead they were up 62-61). Mikey Thompson would go on to convert a layup which put the Broncos up 62-63.

The Aztecs did not convert on their possession then found themselves down 62-65 after a Derrick Mark’s jumper. SDSU failed again to convert, as they could not finish at the basket with less than a minute to go.

The next 2 series is what changed the game. As Marks was bringing up the ball Xavier Thames had him alone and got a steal. Thames was fouled on a layup, which looked open enough for him to finish. Unfortunately he failed to, but still got the 2 points on each of his free throws. Down 64-65, the Aztecs managed yet another stop. This brings us back to how the article began. Thames took on multiple defenders, leaving Polee open for the 3. SDSU did not have to go for the 3, as they were only down 1, but it pretty much sealed the victory.

J.J. O’Brien had one of his best games in a while even though his stat line only read 9 points and 6 rebounds. Watching the game, he looked great. He had a ton of spin moves and was finishing convincingly. O’Brien took advantage of being defended by smaller guards, going 4-6 from the field. Steve Fisher really did not ask much of O’Brien offensively, which is what explains only 9 points. He was efficient though, and that is what matters.

Winston Shepard had a pretty poor game. He looked like his sloppy self as he just could not finish. Like I have said before, the guy just tries to look too pretty. He has plenty of potential as we all know. He averages 13+ points and 5+ rebounds per game, and is definitely a big part of our success. Shepard is still growing as a player and is learning to contain his own wildness. He did have a few pretty mid-range jumpers, which is what he seems to excel at this season. Winston had 2 rebounds and 6 points on 2/9 shooting — which was a team worst, 22%.

This Aztecs team’s biggest weakness is their offense, and more specifically finishing at the rim. They really lack a 3 point shooter other than Thames. With that said, this was the kind of gritty win that the Aztecs need to have on their resume if they want to be successful in the NCAA Tournament. SDSU just needs to keep winning and the respect will keep coming.

SDSU stays #5.. Big Game Wednesday @ Boise St.

The Aztecs keep winning and they’re national stance keeps strengthening.

This past weekend 5 top-10 teams lost, including #1 Arizona. Despite all these losses, SDSU kept its position at #5. SDSU’s only loss is to Arizona who dropped to #2 as Syracuse advanced to #1 after escaping #11 Duke in an overtime thriller.

The Aztecs only played one game last week. Steve Fisher was still able to gain his 300th win as the Aztec’s head coach.

SDSU played Colorado St at home who they beat pretty convincingly 65-56. Steve Fisher’s team was up by double digits primarily the entire game entering halftime with a 12 point lead. Only until the last few minutes did Colorado St. break the lead to single-digits when they went on a run.

The stellar play of senior guard Xavier Thames allowed the Aztecs to prevail. Thames scored 24 points improving his per game average to 18 points. Winston Shepard also added 17 points and 6 rebounds. Xavier Thames was also impressive on the boards with 7.

This rebound production out of Shepard and Thames was necessary with star forward Josh Davis out with a knee injury. Dwayne Polee also sat out with a sickness. Josh Davis’ production is a huge part of why SDSU is the #5 ranked team in the country. He currently averages 11.6 rebounds per game, which ranks 3rd in the entire country. SDSU got production out of J.J. O’Brien to make up for Davis.  O’Brien finished with 10 rebounds and only 1 point. J.J. is still recovering from an injured hand and Fisher has not relied on his offense game during the bulk of the season.

It is still unknown if Josh Davis will play tonight against Boise State. They will need him. Saturday night verse Colorado St. was only the second time all season (Arizona) that SDSU did not out-rebound it’s opponent. They tied, going 40-40. Dwayne Polee should play in Boise, so that may help out a bit. SDSU could use Davis’ production verse a pesky Boise St. offense.

Xavier Thames also managed to go 12-for-12 from the free throw line. The rest of the Aztecs went a combined 11-22 from the line. If SDSU wants to seriously compete in the NCAA Tournament, they will need to improve their free throw percentage. They have a ton of physical athletic players who draw fouls as they drive to the basket. They need to take advantage of their opportunities as they will get fouled a lot in tournament play. Xavier has been solid all season and currently ranks #7 on the Player of the Year Award watch-list.

Boise St. has played SDSU extremely close in recent years. They have an outstanding outside game with great 3-point shooters. This game will come down to rebounds and how the Aztec defense plays in Idaho.

From this point on the rest of the season, all Mountain West Conference teams will be playing the Aztecs very tough. At #5, it will essentially be every team in the conference’s biggest game of the season. It will be the ‘Super Bowl’ for every team, if you will. SDSU needs to take notice of this and not let their feet off the pedal. They need to keep playing dominant defense and keep up that #1 ranking in opponent FG%. New Mexico is really the only other seemingly guaranteed team to make the NCAA tournament. There are a couple bubble teams in our conference, including Boise St., who could make the tournament with a win against an excellent #5 SDSU Aztec team.

Lets play some defense, finish around the basket, at make some free throws and we will win.


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