The Aztecs Will Be Breaking In A New Head Coach This Year, But Don’t Expect Them To Take A Step Back.
Full analysis of the Brian Dutcher feature on the College Hoops Today podcast with Jon Rothstein
SDSU Head Coach Brian Dutcher was recently featured on a podcast and interviewed by Jon Rothstein
With the exception of politics, no topic may be more opinion driven than college sports. Fans squabble during the beginning of the season over preseason rankings, argue merits during the season and complain postseason about why their team deserved to be in the NCAA Tournament or College Football Playoff, depending on the sport.
With the AP releasing their preseason Top 25 rankings for football and the basketball season slowly making its way closer and closer, the hype and controversy are in full swing.
One of the more talked about conferences this preseason has, in fact, been the Mountain West. Many still remember when the MW was a multi-bid mid-major league and are wondering if this is the year the conference reclaims some of that former glory.
Jon Rothstein is not one of those people. He recently stated on his latest College Hoops Today podcast that he believed the MW would be a one bid league again this year. However, he wasn’t sure which team that would be and to get some clarity, he brought in SDSU Head Coach Brian Dutcher for an interview. Here are five takeaways from the insightful discussion.
1. The program is in good hands
One of the biggest changes Dutcher mentioned was in recruiting where he had to transition from being the set up man to being the closer. Suffice to say that he’s doing just fine in his new role. After a slow summer, he caught fire last week securing the commitments of Matt Mitchell, Joel Mensah and Jordan Campbell. Don’t expect the Aztecs recruiting to struggle in the future.
2. Turmoil Level: Minimal
After studying under the tutelage of Steve Fisher for over 20 years, Dutcher knows a good thing when he sees it. He wisely stated that he won’t be making any big changes, although he did make mention that he would like the team to be more aggressive and play with more pace. The coaching staff remains basically the same as Dave Velasquez, Tim Shelton and Justin Hutson all return. For a program with players trying to get back to the Big Dance, the best thing you can give them is stability when they lose a Hall of Fame coach.
3. Newcomers are going to be the key this season for the Aztecs
When asked about who would be making a big impact this season, almost every person referenced would be a new face to this team. Devin Watson is an elite scorer with the swagger to be the closer at the end of the game for this squad.
Kameron Rooks will provide interior size and rim protection. Adam Seiko and Jordan Schakel could form a deadly true freshman platoon on the wings with each bringing elite skills to the table that SDSU sorely missed last season. Mart Mitchell is the latest addition, but perhaps the most valuable as his coaches continually say he’s a PAC-12 level player. All in all, the huge influx of talent might just be what SDSU needs to get back to the tournament.
4. Great minds think alike.
Ever since the summer began, I have repeatedly said that the X factor for this season will be redshirt freshman Jalen McDaniels. Well, that belief has been reaffirmed by Coach Dutch as he believes that McDaniels could be the breakout player for the team this year.
After spending a year getting stronger and improving his one on one game, the 6’9” forward could potentially give the starting lineup a valuable boost as they look to reclaim the conference crown.
5. Don’t be shocked if Malik Pope becomes the next four year player to boost his stock in his senior season
You saw it with Buddy Hield. You saw it with Frank Mason III. Just because you aren’t part of the one and done movement doesn’t mean that you can’t be drafted. The past two Wooden Award winners were seniors and while no one is suggesting Pope will play at that level this year, he could parlay a strong senior season into a chance to win over some scouts.
According to Dutcher, no one has put in more work this summer than Pope and he knows that this is his last chance to cement his legacy at SDSU and improve his draft stock. If Pope shows why he was such a highly touted recruit back in 2014, the Aztecs will have a very good chance of being a part of the madness in 2018.
Overall, Dutcher said all the right things and it sounds like SDSU fans should be very excited about what the team has in store for us this year. After spending the whole summer convincing skeptics that Dutcher would do just fine as the head coach, I can confidently say that with him at the helm, the Aztecs will have nowhere to go but up.
Here is the full interview with Dutcher.