MW Hoops Performances Of The Week: Week Three
A key top-25 win holds weight in the first round of player recognition voting.
The Aztecs are well represented in our first edition of Performances of the Week.
Welcome to conference play everyone, as we approach the middle of December and the end of the 2020, we put an unorthodox non-conference schedule behind us and return to Mountain West play this weekend.
For return readers a lot of thought was put into how to cover such an unconventional season, with cancellations and postponements galore, our staff had to think about the best way to measure what you could look at as an incomplete non-conference slate. So along with things like our normal power rankings, previews and recaps we looked at other ideas as well.
For those who read our Players of the Week series last season, where we voted on the best players and their performances any given week and kept track all year to compare our player with the highest point total with the media selection, thank you. It was a great deal of fun voting and compiling the data all year to produce a different look at the best players in the conference from start to finish.
But given the holes in team’s schedules and multiple games played against non-division one opponents this season, we decided against an encore rendition.
Instead we have decided to continue weekly voting this season, but geared towards players who had solid performances throughout the week. We’ll do this with four awards; gold, silver, bronze and a participation ribbon.
With some teams playing their first games last week and others on covid-19 related pauses, this seemed like a great way to recognize great players in our conference while staying active with game postponement and cancellations happening weekly.
Jordan Schakel, Senior Guard San Diego State
Weekly Averages: 25.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG & 2.0 SPG
Game Breakdown: 25 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals & 5/9 from deep vs. Arizona State
The Aztecs are rolling, and really just taking a moment to remind naysayers across the country how they achieved a 30-2 record, regular season MW championship and top-ten national ranking last season.
A big reason for that is the development and progression of players on the roster who utilize their strengths and play tough Aztec defense. Jordan Schakel has always been a threat from deep, but in his new role as leading scorer he is finding new ways to be as efficient as possible while continuing to knock them down.
This was apparent last week, as the marquee match up of the week against then No. 23 ranked Arizona State put San Diego State back in the national spotlight and on everyone’s T.V. screen. Schakel took on one of the deeper backcourts in college basketball, and led his squad along with our silver medal recipient to a W. Draining 5 of his 9 three point attempts to notch 25 points in their 80-68 victory on the road in the process.
Schakel is growing into his new role nicely, as many expected fellow senior Matt Mitchell to be this team’s leader in 2020-2021, he has stepped up beautifully when the key for this team remains unselfish passing, defense and winning.
Nathan Mensah, Junior Forward San Diego State
Weekly Averages: 17.0 PPG, 15.0 PPG & 3.0 BPG
Game Breakdown: 17 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 assist, 1 steal going 7/12 from the field vs. Arizona State
It was good to see Mensah back on the court this season, after his 2019-2020 campaign was cut short due to a blood clot in his lungs just 13 games into the season. His presence was missed, and only made his return for this season that even more anticipated as the main in the paint for San Diego State.
His performance through the Aztec’s first four games wasn’t exactly eye popping. But, the 6-10 forward showed up when it was most important, against a top-25 squad from the Pac-12 and looked great doing it.
His double-double and presence in the paint was felt, with three blocks on the defensive side while continually moving to get beautifully placed lobs and passes all night. Using his size and length advantage over a four guard line up as well as the trio of big men (6-8, 6-8 & 6-9) tasked with keeping Mensah off the box score, he managed to become the difference maker in the win column with his season high 17 points.
Marcus Williams, Freshman Guard Wyoming
Weekly Averages: 21.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 4.5 APG & 2.0 SPG
Game 1-30 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals vs. Denver
Game 2-12 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal vs Utah Valley
Williams has been an offensive sparkplug in the Cowboy’s starting line up this season and first year head coach Jeff Linder. The 6-2 guard is athletic and can score from just about every spot on the court, going an impressive 13-20 from the field in his 30 point performance against Denver last week.
The freshman is a great scorer but has shown the ability to distribute the ball as needed when opposing defenses begin to hone in on him. His addition to the Cowboy’s starting lineup has taken some of the scoring strain off of junior guard Hunter Maldonado and given others like sophomore guard Kenny Foster the chance to move without the ball and look for chances at open looks.
Williams is playing great, still it is a bit scary to think of his potential in Laramie and where he goes from here just six games into the season.
Justin Bean, Junior Forward Utah State
Weekly Averages: 21.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG & 3.0 SPG
Game Breakdown: 21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 9/9 FTs & 6/7 FG vs. The College of Idaho
Bean and the Aggies have had a hard time playing games these past couple of weeks due to positive Covid-19 tests within the program. But as the 6-7 forward has begun to transition away from distribution on the perimeter out of necessity, he is getting back to where he is most efficient in the scoring column, in the paint and on the glass.
The College of Idaho may not be the best opponent to measure his turnaround against, but the Coyotes have taken advantage of the need for impromptu games from division-I schools this season and may be a bit more battle tested then they would have been in a more traditional home opener buy game.
Bean is a clear leader on this team, but as expected he is everywhere on the court, doing a little bit of everything. So to log 21 points on near perfect night shooting and a perfect 100% on nine free throw attempts, he get’s this weeks, participation ribbon. Don’t worry it’s a nice one.
David Roddy (So. G, CSU), Hunter Maldonado (Jr. G, Wyo), Richard Washington Jr. (Sr. G, SJSU), Makuach Maluach, Sr. G/F, UNM), Derrick Alston Jr. (Sr. G, BSU)