Prior to this amazing San Diego State men’s basketball season, everyone knew SDSU would have one of the top frontcourts in the country with super sophomore Kawhi Leonard, freak athlete Billy White and defensive stalwart Malcolm Thomas. The so-called analysts said the team’s big question mark, its Achilles’ heel, its glaring weakness, would be its guard play.
Well, senior point guard D.J. Gay has turned that question mark into an exclamation point.
Gay has been one of the steadiest players in the nation, regardless of conference or position. With his basketball IQ, outside shooting and unselfish play, he has led the Aztecs to a No. 6 ranking and a tie with Ohio State for the best record in Division I basketball. All year, head coach Steve Fisher has called Gay the team’s most important player, and this week Gay was rewarded with his first-ever Mountain West Conference Player of the Week award, which he shared with BYU’s Jackson Emery.
“D.J. has made me look good,” Fisher said. “I said before the curve that he was our most important player and he’s proven that he’s been that and then some every stretch of the way. He’s so reliable, never gets ruffled under the stress of the moment and has a comfort level now that when he has that ball, he’s going to make a decision that’s good for us.”
How reliable has Gay been?
The last time he had a turnover was 18 days ago against Wyoming, when he had one. In that same time span he has 21 assists. That stat line is even more impressive when you consider Gay plays almost 35 minutes per game and is responsible for taking the ball up 90 feet and controlling the offense on every possession. Oh yeah, and he is also a finalist for the 2011 Bob Cousy Award, which is given to the top collegiate point guard in the country.
“He’s the point guard of our team and he plays 40 minutes each game so I think he finally got rewarded for his effort,” Leonard said. “He hit shots and free throws for us at UNLV that helped us win that game.”
“D.J. is our leader on the court and off the court and he always comes up big in big-time situations,” sophomore guard James Rahon added. “He hit big shots against UNLV; he hit some big free throws at the end. He always steps up for us when we need it the most. He definitely deserved it.”
SDSU’s next game is against New Mexico, which had won four straight, including a win against No. 7 / 8 BYU, before it lost to Colorado State.
“We match up really well against New Mexico,” Gay said. “They’re a very good team, very good inside and have a strong point guard. I think going into this game, this is a key game for New Mexico to try and win. The pressure will be on them, the pressure will be on us. It should be a fun, high-paced game.”
AT A GLANCE:
Who: New Mexico
When: 7:30 p.m., tonight
Where: Viejas Arena
Why to watch: SDSU will try to avoid an upset at home and move up in the national rankings.