SDSU Men's Basketball leaves for Sweet 16 with 'toughness and grit'
The San Diego State men’s basketball team heads to Louisville, Kentucky on Wednesday, March 22, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the third time in program history.
The fifth-seeded Aztecs have won 11 of their past 13 games and will play number one seed Alabama on Friday.
“It’s the perfect opportunity just to go and show the world who we are and what we’re made of and how we can compete with the number one team,” said Senior Forward Aguek Arop at a media briefing on Tuesday.
Head coach Brian Dutcher is preparing his team for their toughest opponent this season.
“We’ll have toughness and grit. We’ll contest every shot they take, and like I said from the start of the year, ‘As long as we’re playing at our best, then I like our chances,’” Dutcher said.
Senior Guard Adam Seiko said he is motivated by the pandemic-canceled 2020 NCAA tournament.
“Myself, Keshad, A.G, Nate, Jared Barnett were on that team, and for that to go down how it did, was very disappointing and flashback three years later, we’re making a run in the tournament in the sweet 16,” Seiko continued. “So we’re not complacent, we want to keep making a run hopefully to the Final Four.”
And other players embrace being the underdog.
“We’ll pull up tweets, videos and everything that people are talking down on us and not expecting us to win. They’re not believers and we embrace it. We are the underdogs,” Arop said.
Adam Seiko said, “They’re (Alabama) a big, physical team, top five defense in the country. They get on transition a lot. They’re fast. They have Brandon Miller whose one of the top players in the country. They have good players all around.”
Both Seiko and Arop say the team has been preparing for this opportunity since the beginning of the season and are ready to do whatever it takes to win.
“It’ll show when it comes game time, who’s willing to dive on the floor first, who’s willing to get the loose balls; the team that’s willing to stay together once we hit adversity, that will be the team that wants it more,” Arop said.
“It’ll show when it comes game time. Who’s willing to dive on the floor first, who’s willing to get the loose balls. The team that’s willing to stay together once we hit adversity, that will be the team that wants it more,” Arop said.
The team has used the mantra of getting 1% better every day and are enjoying their March Madness experience.
“All the fans coming to the game supporting us,” Dutcher said, “it's all just a blessing to see them out there with us and carry on this energy with us and going on to Kentucky, and hopefully we get the same amount of love. I know it's going to be packed with Alabama fans over there. But I know our fans will show up as well.”