#24 San Diego State Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

San Diego State Aztecs

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #24
Conference Rank:  #1 Mountain West

San Diego State Team Page#24 San Diego State Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy San Diego State Basketball Tickets

Steve Fisher has turned San Diego State into a perennial contender since he was hired in 1999.  He has gone from winning no conference games in his first season to losing only two in the 2014 campaign.  His pedigree and tenure as a coach has helped him build the Aztecs into a serious national contender every year.  Generally, his team runs into better squads come NCAA Tournament time, but SDSU has made it to the Big Dance five straight years.  They have gotten to the Sweet Sixteen in two of those appearances.  The 2014-2015 season should end sometime in late March as well.

2013-2014 record:  31-5, 16-2 Mountain West Conference
2013-2014 postseason:  Sweet Sixteen (Lost to Arizona, 64-70)
Coach:  Steve Fisher
Coach Record:  312-176 (217-155 at San Diego State)

Who’s Out:
Fisher loses his leading scorer, Xavier Thames, which is always a tough loss for any team transitioning to new leadership.  Thames, the court general, also led the team in assists.  Replacing his production will be key.  Josh Davis is also gone, which will have a bit of an effect on the Aztecs’ ability to clean up the glass.  Davis averaged 10 rebounds per game, which put him among the best in the conference.  Forward James Johnson, more of a minor roleplayer than anything, is also gone after transferring.

Who’s In:
San Diego State’s recruiting class is only rivaled by UNLV in the Mountain West.  Small forward Malik Pope is generally regarded as a top-20 small forward nationally.  Pair him with four-star power forward Zylan Cheatham, and Fisher now has extra depth down low and, in theory, viable replacements for Josh Davis’ rebounding production.  He should be able to get a ton of quality frontcourt minutes in a rotation that will include Skylar Spencer and Winston Shepard.  That makes up would could be the deepest frontcourt in the conference.  Angelo Chol, a transfer from Arizona, will figure to add significant minutes as well.  

Who to Watch:
Forward Winston Shepard is the guy to watch this season.  With the departure of Xavier Thames and Josh Davis, Shepard is the returning leader in the big three statistical categories (points, rebounds, assists).  With all the added talent and the ability to spread it around to a deep roster, Shepard will not have to do everything himself.  That should only facilitate bigger and better numbers for him.  He will undoubtedly be the go-to guy in many situations.  A big jump could be in his rebounding numbers.  With Josh Davis gone, there will be more of a need, and an opportunity, for him to pick up in that regard.

Final Projection:
San Diego State looks to be in the driver’s seat once again for the upcoming season in the Mountain West.  Despite losing Thames and Davis, the Aztecs have eight letterwinners from last season returning.  This is an experienced team that knows how to win and knows what the postseason looks like.  Based on that alone, San Diego State should be able to treat this season like business – it will be all about the NCAA Tournament.  Fisher is one of the best coaches in the country and he will have this team ready to play.  New Mexico and UNLV are quality teams in the Mountain West as well.  The conference title will not be easy to defend, but the Aztecs are as talented as anyone, and they should be looking for a great run in March.

Projected Postseason Tournament:  NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Aqeel Quinn, Senior, Guard, 5.0 points per game
Dakarai Allen, Sophomore, Guard, 2.5 points per game
Winston Shepard, Junior, Forward, 11.6 points per game
Skylar Spencer, Junior, Forward, 11.6 points per game
JJ O’Brien, Senior, Forward, 7.8 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.3 (196th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 57.0 (2, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 23.5 (212, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.6 (8, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.2 (280, 11)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.8 (103, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.3 (284, 10)
Rebound Margin: 5.1 (26, 3)
Assists Per Game: 9.9 (329, 11)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.9 (13, 2)

Madness 2014 NBA Draft Rankings:
#43 Winston Shepard
#64 Dwayne Polee

Madness 2013 Men’s Basketball Recruiting:
#38 Malik Pope
#81 Trey Kell
#89 Zylan Cheatham


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