Tapley, Franklin lead Aztecs to 3-0 start

by Antonio Morales

Antonio Zaragoza, Photo Editor
Antonio Zaragoza, Photo Editor

One half into the first game of the season the San Diego State men’s basketball team led Bryant by only one point. It was a reality check that this season’s team isn’t the same as the last one, but it still produced similar results.

The Aztecs went onto defeat Bryant 75-63, Southern Utah and UC Davis in a three-day span to claim the Basketball Travelers Classic championship. Junior guard Chase Tapley was named tournament MVP as he scored 20,16 and 23 points respectively in the three games. The team also welcomed back sophomore Jamaal Franklin on Saturday.

Franklin excited the crowd with scoring barrages and monster dunks throughout the two games he played in. SDSU accomplished all of this without junior guard James Rahon, who led the Aztecs in scoring during their two exhibition games. It is not known if Rahon will travel with the team to take on Baylor.

Franklin shines The Basketball Travelers Classic might as well have been named the Jamaal Franklin Showcase. Tapley might have taken home tournament MVP honors, but Franklin put on a show that fans won’t soon forget this weekend. It started during his first game back from suspension against Southern Utah, Franklin sent the crowd into a frenzy with three monster dunks. The sophomore scored 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting in his season debut.

On Sunday, Franklin displayed his all-around game. He hit his first three jump shots and scored 20 points in the first half. Even though he was on fire at the beginning of the game, Franklin said he wasn’t feeling good beforehand. “Beginning of the game and warm-ups I didn’t really feel good,” Franklin said. “I wasn’t hitting shots, but as the game started and I hit the first one I felt good after that.”

Franklin, who finished the game with 31 points, said he put a lot of work in during the offseason to improve his jumpshot to where it’s at now. “I put a lot of hard work in during the summer and last year when I wasn’t playing,” Franklin said. “I’m glad that its better, but I still have to keep working on it.”

The new guy Sophomore Xavier Thames was thrown into the fire this weekend. Thames totaled at least seven assists in each game during the tournament. He also went 11-of-21 from the field and scored 23 points in the three games. Head coach Steve Fisher thinks Thames is just starting to find his footing after sitting out last season because of NCAA transfer rules. “He’s had a whole year off,” Fisher said. “So this is his coming out party really, he’s been finding his game legs and game mind and he’ll get better.”

Fisher said Thames can still work on hitting open shots and free throws. News and notes The Aztecs shot 74.2 percent from the free-throw line on Sunday but the first two games weren’t a pretty sight from the charity stripe for SDSU. Against Bryant the team shot 44 percent from the line and against Southern Utah the team shot 45 percent.

Fisher added that he believes the team is a good free throw shooting team despite what it showed during the weekend. The team will face a tough three-game stretch this week as it takes on Baylor, USC on Thursday and Long Beach State on Saturday.

Viejas Arena seemed to be half-full for the most part in each of the three games.