San Marcos, Texas • Aaron Dotson trudged slowly out of Utah’s locker room Wednesday night, talking softly with Cedric Martin, a look of frustration creeping across his stoic face.
The junior guard played his first real game in almost two years against SMU, contributing seven minutes of turnover-filled basketball without a point. In making his season debut — after missing a month with a stress fracture in his foot — Dotson was predictably rusty. His normal explosion to the basket wasn’t there. He was hesitant in a number of ways, and his lack of aggression stood out.
He knows it will take time before he’s back to being himself.
“It was just different out there,” Dotson said. “I wasn’t used to the speed. I don’t want to say that I wasn’t ready. But I have to get used to being in a real game.”
Dotson — projected as a Utes starter in the preseason — was certainly thrown into the deep end. The Mustangs are the most athletic and the deepest team Utah has faced on its schedule. And SMU’s active defense threw Dotson off.
Still, there were signs of what Dotson could be and what he can contribute. He took a pass in the first half, dribbled past his defender and went to the basket. He elevated, then was called for a charge.
On another defensive possession, Dotson darted in front of the man he was guarding, picked off a pass and headed down the court for a dunk. And then he double-dribbled the ball. Another turnover.
Dotson didn’t play in the second half, but he remains healthy. The foot didn’t hurt him, and he felt no ill effects following the game. Now, it’s all about getting back to the player he used to be — starting with Friday’s game here against Texas State.
“The SMU game needed to happen,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “He needed to play in a game like that. The one thing that he needs the most is reps in practice. He just needs to get caught up to the speed of the game and to get comfortable. It’s been a long time since he last played in a game, so it’s going to take a little while before he’s the Aaron Dotson that we all know.”
Krystkowiak said Dotson would get more minutes against the Bobcats. At this point, the Utes sorely need what he can potentially bring. As the season begins to take shape, Utah’s personality is starting to form.
What is concerning is that Jarred DuBois is the only player who has been able to consistently create offense for himself and others off the dribble. The senior guard scored a season-high 25 points against SMU, but he needs help. Dotson appears able to provide that help, once he’s up to speed.
If the Utes are to score consistently, they need more than one player who can get his own shot.
That makes Dotson a valuable commodity.
“We definitely need Aaron to be the scorer we know he is,” Martin said. “We know that it will come. We aren’t worried about him.”
Utah at Texas State
P At Strahan Coliseum, San Marcos, Texas
Tipoff • Friday, 6 p.m. MDT
TV • None
Radio • 700 AM
Records • Utah 4-2; Texas State 3-3
Series history • Utah, 1-0
Last meeting • Utah 74-59, Nov. 18, 2005
About the Utes • Utah guard Jarred DuBois is coming off a season-high 25-point performance against SMU. … Jordan Loveridge has notched two double-doubles on the season … Utah is playing its second road game of the season. … Aaron Dotson made his season debut against SMU.
About the Bobcats • Texas State is led by Joel Wright’s 15.2 points per game. … Wesley Davis ranks 21st nationally with 2.83 steals per game . … The two teams will be meeting for the second time. … Matt Staff has scored in double figures five times this season.