It seemed like a fitting point, given the setting. As Brian Dutcher addressed reporters on a video conference call, the Aztec basketball coach spoke about the need to adjust and be flexible during the pandemic. He didn’t miss the perfect example sitting right in front of him.
“I didn't even know what Zoom was,” Dutcher confessed. “None of us did, and here we are working on Zoom today.”
He, like coaches all over, quickly got acquainted to video chats after COVID-19 shut down the NCAA Tournament, and kept his players apart. Seven months after their season got cut short, his team reached an important milestone on Monday.
“Aztec basketball played five-on-five for the first time since March.”
His players had only worked out individually or in smaller groups. They were able to ramp up their preparations with a little more than a month to go before November 25th, the opening day of the college basketball season.
Although, we still don’t know when San Diego State will tip off.
The Mountain West released its conference slate, but non-league schedules for programs across the country have been slow to form. Dutcher said they are working on a multi-team event in Orlando to start things off – but did not name the teams they would play there. He also said they’ve agreed to a game with a Pac-12 team and had a couple series set up with WCC opponents.
“I’m excited,” Dutcher said. “I think we’ve challenged ourselves. We’re playing less games, so I thought it was important we played as many Quad 1 and Quad 2 games as we possibly could to put ourselves in a position to be in an at-large conversation at the end of the year if we don’t win the conference tournament. So I think our schedule’s gonna be challenging.”
Dutcher provided an important date in his time with reporters. Center Nathan Mensah has been cleared to play. The 6-foot-10-inch junior played his last game on December 28th because of a respiratory infection.
“It's good to have Nathan out there competing at a high level and he's a difference maker.”