Aztecs hope team’s chemistry leads to success

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego State University Aztecs will debut some fresh faces on the basketball court after playing in the NCAA tournament last season.

The new Aztecs include four incoming freshman and two transfer students who may provide a boost of energy for the team.

SDSU takes on Chaminade in an exhibition on Thursday and  believe the fun they have off the court will translate to success.

"The four freshman brought an element of newness and freshness to the team," said sophomore guard Jordan Schakel. "Their personalities are very compatible with all of us so it's been nice to have people that are really genuinely excited to be here."

Senior guard Devin Watson can't wait for fans to see the new squad in action.

"I'm just looking forward to getting on the court, with this young core I'm looking to get out there," said Watson. "I know they're active, they're ready and they're eager and I am too."

Senior guard Jeremy Hemsley added that the team chemistry has never felt better, a sentiment that also translates to the hardwood.

"We laugh a lot, we're always together," said Hemsley. "I really don't hang around anybody else besides my teammates and I don't really care to hang around anybody else besides my teammates so I think that's the mindset everybody has and it makes it easier on the court because you know I got your back and you know I got yours."

It's the confidence that will be crucial for a winning season. The Aztecs play Duke just 13 days into their season and as the defending Mountain West Conference champions, head coach Brian Dutcher says everyone, freshman included, have to step up and compete.

"I always like to say the chemistry is great in September because I haven't given the starting job out yet so everybody thinks they're going to start and everybody thinks they're going to average 12 to 15 points a game," said Dutcher. "So the chemistry is great now. The key is can I keep the chemistry where it's at when roles are defined and maybe they're not as great as someone had hoped."

For Hemsley, this season marks the final year he'll suit up in red and black. Though he'll have to compete for a starting job, he says he's taking Dutcher's advice by living in the moment and just enjoying the last ride.

"It's made practices a lot more fun," said Hemsley. "I don't really think I've had this much fun in practice since I've been here and this year just started so that's definitely a good sign for me."

The Aztecs tip off against Chaminade at 7 p.m. at Viejas Arena Thursday.