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Tag:San Diego State
Posted on: February 16, 2012 10:56 am
Edited on: February 16, 2012 12:52 pm
 

Alford's New Mexico Lobos finally earn resume win

By Jeff Goodman

New Mexico's win at SDSU on Wednesday likely vaults the Lobos into the NCAA tournament. (US Presswire)

New Mexico finally got that win. 

The Lobos had been searching for a resume victory since, well, all season long. Steve Alford's team got its most impressive win to date on New Year's Eve against Saint Louis at The Pit, but it came up empty in its two January opportunities against UNLV and San Diego State, thus putting the Lobos on the wrong side of The Bubble. 

There were just two chances left on the slate -- last night at San Diego State and Saturday morning at home against UNLV. If New Mexico couldn't get one of those two, it would likely be headed to the NIT. 

But it all changed last night with the crucial road win at the Viejas Center against San Diego State. These days, the Viejas Center is one of the most difficult venues on the west coast, maybe even the country. I saw it first-hand twice last season.

"It was huge for us with the league race," Alford said on Thursday morning. "No question. But as far as the NCAA is concerned, we've been consistent ... we felt like our body of work was good enough." 

Not if the Lobos had gone 0-for-4 against the Mountain West's big boys of San Diego State and UNLV.  

It's been difficult to get a feel for this team this season despite the abundance of talent in Albuquerque. The Lobos lost to New Mexico State and Santa Clara early in the year and beat up one some of the bottom-feeder BCS teams (Arizona State, Boston College, Washington State and USC). But last night showed the potential that this New Mexico team boats -- led by veteran big man Drew Gordon (17 points, 17 rebounds). 

Guards Kendall Williams (21 points) and Jamal Fenton (15 points) stepped up last night while talented sophomore wing Tony Snell struggled again against the Aztecs -- being held scoreless. Phillip McDonald, the team's top perimeter shooter, also finished with the goose-egg -- yet New Mexico came away with a fairly decisive win. 

"We didn't get a point from those guys and still won by 10," Alford said. "But we've been a deep team all year." 

Maybe I'm nuts, but I think this could be a deep and also a dangerous team -- as long as they get into the NCAA tournament. However, right now the Lobos still aren't a lock to go dancing. 

That could change Saturday -- as long as Alford & Co. can get the Mountain West's top-ranked team, UNLV, at The Pit. 

A victory would put the Lobos two games in front of UNLV and also a game up on the Aztecs with four regular-season contests remaining. 

"It's a huge game," Alford said. "If UNLV beats us, it's a three-way tie again. If we beat them, we're two up and it's pretty much us and San Diego State." 

Posted on: February 13, 2012 10:41 am
Edited on: February 13, 2012 10:48 am
 

San Diego State's Fisher thriving in bridge year

Put Fisher as a top-five Coach of the Year candidate for sure. (Getty Images)

By Jeff Goodman

Steve Fisher was reluctant to use the word "rebuilding" connected with this team after San Diego State's veteran coach lost four starters -- including lottery pick Kawhi Leonard -- following last season. 

"I was a bit nervous," he admitted. 

A bridge year is a more appropriate term. 

Whatever the case, the Aztecs coaching staff privately hoped they could extend their streak of 20-plus win seasons and also get to the NIT. Fisher has already won 20 games with a half-dozen regular-season contests left on the slate -- and the Aztecs were ranked 13th in the nation prior to Saturday's last-second road loss at UNLV. 

"We've got good players," Fisher said after the loss. 

Good players. He's right, but that's usually not enough to be ranked in the Top 25. 

Fisher deserves heavy consideration for National Coach of the Year for what he's done thus far this season. Usually when a program like San Diego State loses guys like Leonard, Malcolm Thomas, D.J. Gay and Billy White, it quickly becomes nationally irrelevant. 

Instead, the Aztecs are 20-4 and are tied with UNLV and New Mexico atop the Mountain West heading into Wednesday's home matchup with the Lobos. 

No one realized that junior guard Chase Tapley (16.2 ppg) would quickly turn into one of the elite guards on the west coast or that athletic sophomore Jamaal Franklin (16 ppg, 7.3 rpg) would emerge as a big-time player after limited playing time last season. 

Fisher has done this with virtually nothing up front. Tim Shelton gets the most out of his ability, but he's had multiple knee injuries that have turned him into an undersized grinder who isn't a threat on the offensive end. Fisher was so thin on the frontline that he wound up taking LSU one-year transfer Garrett Green and has started him 15 games this season. The 6-foot-4 Franklin has been forced to play power forward much of the time due to the lack of quality big men. 

Next year was supposed to be the year that San Diego State was back. 

Tapley and Franklin will be upperclassmen, fellow starters James Rahon and Xavier Thames will also be back. 

Fisher will have transfers Dwayne Polee (St. John's) and J.J. O'Brien (Utah) eligible from the outset and big man James Johnson (Virginia) will be available after the first semester. 

"We'll be more talented, but the key will be the chemistry and playing together," Tapley said. "I honestly think we have the talent next season to go all the way to the Final Four." 

But Tapley and his teammates aren't thinking about next year just yet. 

Posted on: January 25, 2012 11:18 am
 

Podcast: Happy birthday, Gary Parrish

By Matt Norlander

No primping needed. This is our longest and certainly one of our top-five podcasts yet. My timeline rundown doesn't do it justice.

What's when:
  • From the beginning: Goodman also explains which college coach is close to Bill Belichick. You'll never guess it. This quickly gets into some casual banter about the best and worst coaches when it comes to soundbites.
  • 9:07: Purdue. You know they haven't had a season where they've failed to win five in a row since Matt Painter's first year, '05-'06 season. The Boilers now likely won't do that this year -- will they miss the tournament this year like they did in '06?
  • 14:21: Goodman doubts UNC more without Dexter Strickland. Parrish does not.
  • 17:36: Duke's student section isn't selling out and now everyone is laughing at the Cameron Lazies.
  • 19:40: Why isn't college basketball as interesting this year as we thought it would be?
  • 23:28: Addressing a team I've continually been down on -- Florida.
  • 26:32: The BracketBusters talk is surprisingly really good. Just listen. Goodman goes off on this plan of his that's filled with issues. Hilarious.
  • 30:30: San Diego State is 18-2. They get their due here. I then lose it. Just lose it.
  • 33:29: Tuesday was Gary's birthday. The final 10 minutes are filled with banter, Parrish's birthday philosophies, his need for medication, weekend plans, how I can't make it on the streets, etc.

Again, I thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast--whenever you can. I ask that you, if you like what we're doing here, encourage like-minded hoopheads to subscribe in Tunes as well. Guests like Jay Bilas, Seth Davis, they're the guys who make me sound better and make the podcast worthwhile. The other guys? Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman, they really make it entertaining, and of course you can count on our trio show each Wednesday. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.


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Posted on: January 24, 2012 2:14 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 3:06 pm
 

It took SDSU 20 hours to get to Laramie

By Gary Parrish, Jeff Goodman

Steve Fisher told the San Diego Tribune on Sunday that his team's chartered flight for tonight's game at Wyoming had the "potential to be a huge advantage." It was just the second charter in the program's history.

Turns out, it's just been a huge pain in the ass.

“Landed to get gas and now we’re stuck in the snow,” SDSU's Garrett Green Tweeted Monday. “Not looking good.”

Credit Green with an accurate assessment.

The 13th-ranked Aztecs left San Diego around 2:30 p.m. Monday and got stuck in Cedar City, Utah after they were grounded by a snowstorm while stopping to refuel.

"We tried to land and refuel in St. George, but the weather was so bad we had to land in Cedar City," San Diego State spokesman Darin Wong told CBSSports.com on Tuesday afternoon.

They checked-in at a Cedar City hotel, spent the night there and finally reached Laramie today around 1:30 p.m. ET after another stop to refuel, this one in Grand Junction, Colo. That was, as the San Diego Tribune's Mark Zeigler put it, about 20 hours after they left San Diego and just seven hours before their 8:30 p.m. ET tip at Wyoming's Arena-Auditorium.

"Our guys seem to be taking it in stride," Wong said. "Their spirits are high." 

Wong said Fisher scrapped the team's scheduled shootaround, allowing the players to rest in their hotel room prior to the game. The team will get to the arena about 30 minutes before normal so the players can get up extra shots. 

So are the Aztecs about to take their first MWC loss?

Man, I don't know.

But they've got an excuse if they do.
Posted on: January 17, 2012 2:50 pm
 

No bigger surprise than Steve Fisher's Aztecs

By Jeff Goodman

Kawhi Leonard may be in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs, but he's still making his presence felt with his former teammates at San Diego State. 

"His work ethic, I think we all watched him and learned a lot," Aztecs guard Chase Tapley said. "I know I did. He's so humble, just wants to win and worked so hard and it rubs off on everyone else." 

But work ethic can only do so much. You still need talent -- and after Steve Fisher lost a first-rounder early in Leonard, and three other starters off last season's team, just about everyone figured it would be a rebuilding year. That San Diego State, one of the true feel-good stories a year ago, would return to mediocrity. 

Instead, the Aztecs - coming off a huge win at the Viejas Center this past weekend, are 15-2 and sit among the Top 20 teams in the country heading into Wednesday's tilt at the Pit in New Mexico. 

Fisher has done a remarkable job with this group, one that should put him right there for National Coach of the Year honors. 

"I think we all thought it was a rebuilding year," Tapley admitted. 

Tapley, the lone returning starter, has been phenomenal this season. He's averaging 16.9 points while shooting 52 percent from the field and 49 percent from long range. This coming from a guy who was a role player last season, one who averaged 8.6 points per game and played in the shadow of Leonard, Malcolm Thomas, D.J. Gay and Billy White. 

Sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin is a terrific talent who had to wait his turn and is quickly taking advantage. James Rahon is a threat from the perimeter and two transfers -- Xavier Thames and Garrett Green -- have both been solid. 

The wins haven't been eye-opening until the one against UNLV. There was a road victory in Tucson, which is never an easy task, and another Pac-12 win against Cal. The Aztecs also took down the top two teams in the Big West: Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara. 

However, beating the Runnin' Rebels gave this team credibility. 

"We knew that UNLV beat North Carolina," Tapley said. "And everyone knows how talented Carolina is. We knew that UNLV was going to be a huge test for us, and that we couldn't blow this opportunity." 

But now comes another. 

Posted on: January 17, 2012 1:07 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 3:36 pm
 

Tuesday polls: Let's hear who you're taking

By Matt Norlander

We want to know which teams you like this week, and by which sort of margin. Best of all? We're working in concert with Seth Davis and his TV show, so these results will get shared each Wednesday on "Courtside with Seth Davis" on the CBS Sports Network.

This is the third installment of the polls. You can swing by here each Tuesday just after lunchtime to make your clicks. So let's hear it.



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Posted on: January 14, 2012 8:22 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2012 8:58 pm
 

SDSU lost a lot but is still winning a lot

By Gary Parrish

This sort of thing is supposed to happen at Kentucky.

Or Duke.

Or Kansas.

Or North Carolina.

But it's not supposed to happen at San Diego State because San Diego State is not Kentucky. Or Duke. Or Kansas. Or North Carolina. San Diego State is a program that had never been ranked before last season. It is not a national power. It's just a school no different than most non-BCS schools -- the kind that can put together a memorable season with the right mixture of experienced and talented players but will then usually slip back to its normal place in the college basketball world once those experienced and talented players move on. Think Saint Joseph's with Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, then after Nelson and West left. That's what San Diego State is supposed to be. That's what most figured would happen this season.

Turns out, most were wrong.

Because the Aztecs are -- in the year after The Year -- sitting at 15-2 following Saturday's 69-67 win over No. 12 UNLV. Never mind that Steve Fisher lost his top four scorers -- including first-round pick Kawhi Leonard -- from last season's Sweet 16 team because it doesn't seem to matter. The 66-year-old coach is using different pieces but winning at the same high level. SDSU now has wins over California, Arizona, Southern California, Long Beach State and UNLV; the only losses are to No. 4 Baylor and No. 23 Creighton. That means the Aztecs have some good wins and no bad losses. That's why they're ranked 22nd this week and will be higher on Monday.

I wasn't sure I'd ever have a reason to go back to Viejas Arena after last season.

Now I'm not sure how to justify staying away.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 12, 2012 1:37 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 1:37 pm
 

UVA's James Johnson transfers to San Diego State

By Jeff Borzello

James Johnson left the city of San Diego to attend Virginia for a year and half – and now he’s coming back to California.

On Thursday, Johnson announced he was transferring to San Diego State.

“I wanted to come to a place where I could grow my game and grow as a person,” Johnson told the San Diego Union-Tribune. 

The 6-foot-10 sophomore big man left the Cavaliers in December, and visited San Diego State on Tuesday. During his time in Charlottesville, Johnson appeared in only six games for Tony Bennett’s club. He redshirted his freshman season to develop his game and then was stuck behind Mike Scott and Akil Mitchell on the depth chart this season.

Johnson was a top-100 player out of high school, developing most of his basketball skills during the nine years he spent in Canada. He chose Virginia over California, Arizona and Oklahoma.

Johnson will be able to play after the fall semester next season for the Aztecs. Steve Fisher has done a great job with transfers recently, with Garrett Green, James Rahon and Xavier Thames all contributing this season. Johnson and St. John’s transfer Dwayne Polee will enter the fold next year.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com