San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher, guard Xavier Thames, guard Chase Tapley and forward James…
Successful premiere for James Johnson
"I think there is always was going to be nerves especially in my first game after a long time of sitting and watching," Johnson explained his first game jitters.
The redshirt sophomore was held scoreless in just four first half minutes. It was his first game action since December 11, 2011.
Johnson didn't see the floor again until the Aztecs were up 54-39 with 8:15 left in the game.
SDSU then made a concerted effort to get the ball to Johnson in spots on the floor that he felt comfortable in, around the rim.
"Obviously nice to see James Johnson get his first taste of college basketball in a long, long time," SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said. "And I thought our players did a nice job of saying ‘let's get James some touches where he has a chance to get some looks at the rim.'"
"He [Johnson] is big and strong. He's got to play big and strong. So he finished a couple right at the rim. We have to get him to do that."
In his first game in over a year the Southern California native finished with 6 points on 2-of-3 shooting including his first collegiate career field goal.
"It was great to have my guys (Chase Tapley, Xavier Thames) over here," Johnson said. "These guys gave me the ball where I needed it to make buckets. I think it was a good debut and we all showed up well tonight."
"They got me some easy buckets and kind of flowed from there. I felt a lot more comfortable as the game progressed."
The impact transfer played in numerous lineups, as he was the lone big man at times and also teamed up with Deshawn Stephens or Skylar Spencer to create a two-big man front court.
"We've got a lot more work to do before we get comfortable with two big guys out there but we have got to work to see if that can happen," Fisher said. "That could be a different type of weapon if we could do that."
"We got pretty good spacing when we got one big guy out there and it looked like at times we were in one another's way when we had the two big guys out there."
Fisher felt Johnson did struggle at times with ball screens as he and Xavier Thames were not on the same page but thought overall "he did a good job in his first go around."
San Diego State was without star forward Jamaal Franklin, against Point Loma on Tuesday night, who was nursing back spasms that may have come from a hamstring injury.
"His back has really been bothering him and (athletic trainer) Tom [Abdenour] came to me saying ‘I can't get him loosened up,'" Fisher explained. "So we watched him during our shoot- around today and Tom said ‘I don't think he should play.' If we had played a conference game, we probably would have played him but we felt it was in our best interests that he not play."
Franklin sitting out was more precautionary step before the injury could possibly get serious. He should be ready to go for Saturday's matchup with University of San Francisco.
Another surprise "DNP" was reserve guard LaBradford Franklin who will be taking some time off due to "personal issues."
"He [LaBradford Franklin] has got a family situation that he's dealing with," Fisher said. "We talked about it and L.B. was the one who said he'd like to not suit up and take a few days off. He's not going to go with us to Hawaii – that's his choosing. His is not an injury."
-Junior guard Xavier Thames led all scorers with 17 points on the night. He finished shooting 6-for-8 (75%) from the field after shooting a combined 5-for-18 (27.8%) over his previous three contests.
-Point Loma Nazarene head coach Bill Carr on how good SDSU can be:
"Well you throw Jamaal [Franklin] in there, they can be really explosive. I said it yesterday, I think this group plays really well together and they share the ball. They've got so many weapons. You can only hold down [Chase] Tapley for so long. His game is so smooth and he's an unbelievable defender. I think he might be their best defender because he's so smart."
- San Diego State won its 29th straight vs. teams from California, which is the longest active streak nationally and is the longest such streak since 1996-97.
-SDSU senior guard Chase Tapley on the team's confidence heading into the Diamond Head Classic:
"We're definitely still getting better as a whole each and every day in practice. I really feel confident of how we're jelling together. From the first game until now, we've made some major improvements and that's what we have to keep on doing day by day."
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