The San Diego State men’s basketball team is ready to begin their season tonight as they open up against the UCSD Tritons at the Viejas Arena Thursday night.
This game will only be the third time in the history of both schools that these two teams face off. The matchup will be in an exhibition battle prior to the regular season, but there should still be plenty of action. This will be Brian Dutcher’s first game as head coach for the Aztecs after taking over for the legendary Steve Fisher upon his retirement last April.
The Aztecs men’s basketball team is being picked to finish second in the Mountain West preseason media poll. There’s no doubt that the expectations for this highly talented team are going to be lofty in Brian Dutcher’s first season as head coach.
The Tritons will be arriving from down the road in La Jolla to Viejas Arena, with lots of returning talent from last year’s nationally ranked team. However, this matchup will be a very tough one for the Tritons, and will most likely be a learning experience against a far superior opponent in the Division 1 SDSU Aztecs. The UCSD squad from last season finished 27-6 overall and won the California Collegiate Athletic Association title before falling in the Sweet 16 of the Division 2 NCAA tournament. The primary pieces are gone from that team, which will make it a formidable task for them to replicate their success from last year. UCSD will be returning two starters in guard Christian Buaku and wing Christian Oshita, among others, who had sufficient minutes under their head coach, Eric Olen.
On the other side of things, the SDSU men’s basketball team is very eager and ready to compete this season. They feel like their talent level is enough to make a run for the conference title and a return to the NCAA tournament in March. The Aztecs team from last year finished 19-14, and 9-9 in the Mountain West Conference, missing the NCAA tournament for the third time since the 2014-15 season. New head coach Brian Dutcher has three returning starters from last year’s team in Trey Kell, Malik Pope and Jeremy Hemsley. Be on the lookout for all three of those upperclassmen to quickly fill leadership roles and carry their team throughout this season. Trey Kell will be the name to watch for when the Aztecs need proven leadership and experience down the stretch. Newcomers Jordan Schakel, Adam Seiko, and Matt Mitchells are highly regarded freshmen that have a chance to cause lots of damage to opposing defenses this year.
The Aztecs are looking to bounce back this year after a very disappointing season. Much of the hype and increased expectations in this year’s team comes from the freshman class that brings in three very talented players with a chance to make large contributions for the Aztecs. Many of the newcomers on this deep Aztecs squad will be on display tonight against UCSD.
The matchup for San Diego State against UCSD seems like a cake walk on paper, although it shouldn’t stop the Aztecs from giving maximum focus and effort to beat the Tritons convincingly. If they don’t, the Division 2 Tritons from La Jolla could make the game closer than you would think. An upset over the Aztecs would mean lots of trouble down the road for them in the Mountain West Conference. The Tritons will most likely not even come close to winning this game, but it should benefit them in the long run.
The Aztecs will be entertaining to watch in this game as they will likely take advantage of their size and athleticism across the board to win by a large margin over the Tritons. It won’t be televised, but if you have any chance to get down to Viejas Arena on the campus of San Diego State, do it. I highly recommend you go and watch a notably improved and worthy team in the Mountain West. The 2017-2018 season officially opens up tonight for the SDSU men’s basketball team. The Brian Dutcher era is here, and conceivably it is one that should bring Aztec basketball back to national relevance. They will win big against UCSD.