Three ideas on San Diego State’s seventy three-forty one win towards Alabama State on Monday at Viejas Area:
1. Zoning in
Steve Fisher is an old-fashioned, Massive Ten coach. Everybody takes a person, will get in a stance and guards.
He’s a proponent of helpside man-to-man, the place when you’re not on the ball you might have a foot or two within the paint to offer cowl if crucial. It may possibly seem like a zone at occasions if the offense doesn’t minimize and transfer, and infrequently a naive journalist will ask Fisher about his 2-three or three-2 or 1-three-1. Fisher will reply impassively: “We don’t play zone.”
However within the second half Monday night time, that was a zone.
Fisher stated he and his employees have been toying with a zone however, enjoying 4 video games in 10 days, had minimal time to vet it in apply. With level guard Jeremy Hemsley injured, nevertheless, they went huge halfway via the primary half with 6-foot-9 Zylan Cheatham, 6-10 Malik Pope and 6-10 Valentine Izundu making a uncommon look on the ground collectively, which created a defensive conundrum.
Within the first half they caught with their man-to-man, which means Pope needed to cowl a smaller, faster three – one thing he struggles with. It’s the identical drawback if 6-9 Max Hoetzel strikes from the four to the three on protection.
With the lead nicely into the 20s within the second half, they figured, what the heck, let’s attempt a 2-three with Cheatham, Izundu and Pope forming an imposing again line. It had combined outcomes – a number of stops, a couple of blown rotations, a couple of baskets surrendered. If nothing else, it provides them one other defensive choice with sure lineups and forces opponents to spend time prepping for it.
Assuming, that’s, the old-fashioned, Huge Ten coach performs it once more. The final time he performed a zone for that lengthy in a recreation was three seasons in the past, when a 1-three-1 fueled the epic comeback towards New Mexico within the common-season finale.
Fisher: “Once we went with three greater guys we stated, ‘Let’s see what we will seem like.’ We’re going to work on it (in follow). I’m hoping I’ll have the center sufficient to play it.”
2. A Papal sighting
It wasn’t the Malik Pope who was as soon as projected as a primary-spherical NBA decide, and even the Malik Pope that dominated at occasions late final season. However it additionally wasn’t the Malik Pope we noticed as just lately as Saturday afternoon towards Arizona State, the one who had 4 factors within the opening three minutes and by no means scored once more – the poster baby for SDSU’s second-half disintegration.
Pope’s line towards Monday night time’s ASU: sixteen factors, 6 of 10 capturing, seven rebounds, two assists, one turnover in 28 minutes.
The factors are a season excessive, and the rebounds equaled it. And he wasn’t benched down the stretch, as he was within the two earlier video games.
“I’m not dissatisfied, I’m extra annoyed,” Pope stated afterward, talking extensively about his junior season for the primary time. “I’m making an attempt to keep away from accidents, making an attempt to remain wholesome and get out of this little stoop I’m in. I simply need to play for my staff. If I’ve received to go on the market harm or wholesome, no matter it’s, I’ll do no matter I can.
“In the present day I simply tried to place two halves collectively, and I truly felt nice. That basically helped.”
Pope appeared nice in preseason apply in October – aggressive, agile, athletic, animated. Then he felt a twinge behind his knee and sat out a couple of days. Then, in warmups earlier than the Nov. 7 exhibition towards Cal State San Marcos, he felt it once more and was a late scratch. He wouldn’t see the ground for an additional two weeks.
That was the Cal recreation, and till foul hassle derailed his night time Pope seemed the equal of projected 2017 lottery decide Ivan Rabb. However the lack of follow appeared to meet up with him, together with an IT band difficulty after which a bruised calf on the identical leg. His subsequent 4 video games: eight, seven, 4 and 4 factors.
“I imply, you’ll be able to inform on the courtroom when somebody hasn’t practiced that a lot,” stated Pope, who as just lately as final week was collaborating in restricted drills. “You want repetition and confidence with each side of the courtroom. That was actually onerous for me … I’m simply making an attempt to maintain assured and go from right here – go uphill, not downhill.”
Probably the most telling stat Monday was free throws. He had shot only one all season within the second half, a reasonably good indicator that he wasn’t as aggressive. He was four of seven Monday, twice getting fouled whereas attacking the basket and making an attempt to dunk over a gaggle of defenders.
“Malik,” Fisher stated, “performed with the kind of power that you need to play with. It doesn’t matter who you’re enjoying. For those who play with that sort of power, good issues will occur. It was good to see that.”
three. In a special league
The Aztecs have 4 Division I wins and an RPI of 151, in response to CBS Sports activities, after dropping three of the final 4.
Washington has 4 Div. I wins and an RPI of 167 after dropping 4 straight.
Comparable pasts, totally different prospects. The Aztecs in all probability don’t have an opportunity for an at-giant berth within the NCAA Event; the Huskies nonetheless do.
The Aztecs, little question, shoulder the blame for digging their very own gap, nevertheless it’s a two-half drawback. Additionally they don’t have a ladder to climb out due to the speedy decline within the Mountain West, which at present is zero-10 towards groups within the RPI prime 50 and eight-27 towards the highest one hundred fifty.
The Huskies, in the meantime, belong to the Pac-12 and as such nonetheless have seven video games towards groups at present ranked within the Related Press ballot (No. 2 UCLA, No. 19 Arizona, No. 22 Oregon and No. 23 USC) and probably one other one or two within the convention event. The Aztecs? They’ve none. Nevada, in truth, is their solely opponent within the RPI prime one hundred.