Tag:Steve Fisher
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 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: August 29, 2011 11:26 am
Edited on: August 30, 2011 7:38 am

Steve Fisher gets extension; Dutcher next in line

By Jeff Goodman

San Diego State's Steve Fisher will receive a four-year contract extension, CBSSports.com has confirmed, and Fisher's long-time assistant Brian Dutcher will also be officially named the coach-in-waiting.

ESPN.com first reported that an announcement regarding Fisher's extension is set for Monday afternoon while The San Diego Union-Tribune had the news of Dutcher taking over after Fisher retires.

Fisher, 66, won a national title at Michigan, coached the Fab Five to a pair of national championship appearances and has taken the San Diego State program to national prominence over the last few years. The Aztecs were 34-3 last season and went to the Sweet 16.

Dutcher, 51, has been with Fisher for more than two decades. The pair were both assistants to Bill Frieder prior to Fisher taking over in the NCAA tournament in 1989. Dutcher stayed on staff with Fisher, then remained for a year with Brian Ellerbee after Fisher was fired in 1997. He joined Fisher for the last 12 years at San Diego State.

Sources told CBSSports.com that Fisher's deal is worth just shy of $900,000 per year.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 11:25 am
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Posted on: August 9, 2011 9:06 am
Edited on: August 9, 2011 9:10 am

S.D. State takes hit, yet capitalizing on success

By Jeff Goodman

When I punched in Steve Fisher’s number into my cell phone, I was hoping – no, praying – for the best.

That the San Diego State coach would inform me that I was wrong, that his Aztecs didn’t lose four starters – including lottery pick Kawhi Leonard – and that I’d be coming back his way again this season for a couple more Aztec games.

OK, Fisher admitted his team would take a hit this season after losing Leonard, point guard D.J. Gay, Malcolm Thomas and Billy White.

But he sounded optimistic about the future.

Fisher said that the Aztecs will employ a completely different style – likely four guards for lengthy stretches of the game.

He has returning guards Chase Tapley and James Rahon – both starters for much of the year – in addition to Washington State transfer Xavier Thames and talented sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin.

``We do lose a lot,” Fisher admitted. ``I think we’ll still be good, but we’ll be different.”

Don’t expect San Diego State to crack the Top 25 this season.

However, Fisher said that the program has already taken advantage of last season’s success – a 34-win campaign in which the Aztecs cracked the Top 10 – by being able to get involved with a higher level player in recruiting.

``It’s helped us,” Fisher said. ``No question.”

The program has also felt the impact with the sale of 1,500 more season tickets.

``The buzz is still going,” Fisher said. ``The ripple can still be felt from what we did.”

It’s a tough scenario to see San Diego State competing for the Mountain West title this season despite the departure of BYU. That’ll likely belong to New Mexico and UNLV.

But a year from now, when Dwayne Polee (St. John’s) and J.J. O’Brien (Utah) become eligible, all the key pieces return and the ultra-athletic Franklin turns into a star, Fisher’s program could be relevant nationally again.

Fisher was unable to comment since he hasn’t received the official paperwork, but the addition of LSU transfer Garrett Green – who has one year left and is eligible to play immediately – was huge for a team that had just eight eligible bodies and was painfully thin up front.

As much as the losses of the four starters were a hit, they were one that was anticipated prior to the start of last season. What wasn’t expected was not having talented forward Kevin Young, who reneged on his commitment to the Aztecs just about a month ago in favor of playing at Kansas.

``That was tough because we stopped recruiting other guys at his position,” Fisher admitted.

So, to recap, the reality is that I probably won’t be getting to San Diego this season. However, I’m hoping to return in a couple years. 

Posted on: June 20, 2011 2:05 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 3:13 pm

Fisher should be disappointed ... but not mad

By Gary Parrish

Steve Fisher said he's disappointed that Kevin Young decommitted from San Diego State to go to Kansas.

I think that's fair.

I'd be disappointed, too.

But what Steve Fisher shouldn't be is angry or even surprised. Because, as I've explained before, there is no loyalty in college basketball. A man's word in this sport is worth about as much as tickets to an upcoming Amy Winehouse show. Coaches routinely say they're happy and lucky to be where they're at, then leave for a better opportunity a week later. Assistants do the same. That prospects also sometimes do it has never really bothered me.

So I'm not mad at Kevin Young.

He committed to San Diego State back in November, i.e., when he believed San Diego State was his best option. But over time, Kansas became an option, presumably because the Jayhawks lost both Morris twins to the NBA Draft. So Young weighed Kansas against San Diego State and chose KU, which is what most players would do. It's also what most coaches would do, and they'd do it with little regard to any commitments they might've made to others. Coaches tell recruits every year they can't wait to coach them, then willingly change jobs before those same recruits enroll. We all acknowledge it's less than ideal but accept it as part of the deal. What happened with Kevin Young is also part of the deal.

So it's OK for Steve Fisher to be disappointed.

But it would be wrong to be angry or even surprised.
Posted on: March 23, 2011 8:15 pm
Edited on: March 23, 2011 8:41 pm

SDSU takes on Kemba. Been there, done that?

If this guy can't guard Kemba, what chance do the rest of us have?

Posted by Eric Angevine

Anaheim -- On Thursday, March 24 the San Diego State Aztecs will face a Player of the Year candidate in a huge game. This single player can score at will, and makes his team a threat to beat anyone, any time by his mere presence on the floor. Kemba Walker is the man they'll have to stop to have any chance of making the Elite Eight.

For most teams, this would be a daunting experience. For the Aztecs, this is the fourth time this season they've had to prepare for something like this.

That's because the Aztecs play in the Mountain West conference, where Jimmer Fredette plies his trade. SDSU was swept by The Jimmer in two regular-season meetings, but gained a measure of revenge on the third try, beating their arch-nemesis to win the MVC tournament crown.

Asked to compare Walker and Fredette, San Diego State's underrated point guard D.J. Gay pointed out that the two players differ quite a bit when one goes past the surface comparison of volume scoring.

"I think the difference is that Jimmer is more of a 3-point threat," Gay said. "As for Kemba, he gets to the basket at will and his mid-range game is close to perfect. Both are very hard guards to play against, both very good scorers, but one, you're picking up at the half-court line and the other one you constantly need help within that 3-point range."

That actually makes it sound easier for the Aztecs, right? If there's one area they dominate, it's inside. If Kemba wants to test out his drives and mid-range jumpers against San Diego State in Anaheim, that's good, right?

Not so fast, says Aztecs head coach Steve Fisher.

"You can't foul him," Fisher said. "He's a deadly free-throw shooter and I believe he's gotten 76 free throws in his last seven games. You've got to keep him off the line. He knows how to draw fouls. He's lightning quick with the ball."

Oh. So, there is a plan, right?

"Well, he scores 35, 40% of their points and takes about that many of their shots, so we better have a plan in terms of what we want to try to do," said the veteran head coach. "We've got to keep him on the outside, challenge his perimeter shot, minimize the number of free throws and layups he gets. It's easy to say, hard to do. He's not scoring 26, 28 points a game for nothing."

It's worth noting that San Diego State got off the schneid against Brigham Young only after Brandon Davies was suspended, suggesting that there may be more to all this than just watching out for one superstar player. In the UConn frontcourt, Alex Oriakhi plays something close to the Brandon Davies role. He obviously won't be suspended like Davies was, but the SDSU big men might find it easier to limit Oriakhi if their assessment of Walker's three-point effectiveness is accurate.

Now that we have some idea what the game plan will be, it will be very interesting to see if the Aztecs can implement it tomorrow. If they finally succeed in shutting down Walker, they'll have done something nobody else has done this postseason.

Maybe that early dose of Jimmer was just what the Aztecs needed to prepare for the Sweet 16.

Photo: US Presswire

More NCAA tournament coverage
Posted on: February 9, 2011 2:39 pm

Is SDSU's Steve Fisher the Coach of the Year?

Steve Fisher indicates how many times he's been conference coach of the year.Posted by Eric Angevine

Can Steve Fisher even win the Golden Globe, let alone the Oscar?

Let me backtrack a little and share my thought process here.

You know how the Golden Globe awards are usually like a smaller version of the Academy Awards every season? How winners at the GGs become odds-on favorites to garner little gold men for their trophy shelves?

In the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at league Coach of the Year awards in that light. Some of the top coaches in the country will be honored by their conferences, putting themselves on the short list for National Coach of the Year.

On Monday, Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune noted that Steve Fisher is getting some buzz for that NCOY honor. He also pointed out how absurd it is that a man with a national championship ring has never won a league COY award anywhere.

Fisher never was Big Ten Coach of the Year in eight-plus seasons at Michigan, where he had only one losing record in conference.

The snub is even more pronounced in the 12-year-old Mountain West Conference, where the Coach of the Year has won either the regular season or MWC Tournament title every year except one. That was 2006, when Fisher’s Aztecs won both the regular season and tournament. And BYU’s Dave Rose was Coach of the Year.

Ah, Dave Rose. If there's one man standing in the way of Fisher finally getting his due, it's Dave Rose. The BYU coach has already taken one-half of the season series, and may get the award simply for being smart enough to sign Jimmer Fredette in the first place, and then handing him the ball and getting out of the way. That's a ridiculous underselling of Dave Rose, of course, but there's little doubt he's got a little more glamor in his program right now.

The home rematch with the Cougars is scheduled for February 28th, but Rose and Fisher could very well do battle once more in the MWC tourney. After that, Fisher will lose Rose to the WCC and Utah's Jim Boylen to the Pac-10. He'll still have Steve Alford and Lon Kruger as worthy opponents, but you'd have to think that beating Rose out this season would have a little extra savor to it.

National Coach of the Year is a long shot, unless the Aztecs make good on their in-season promise and roll through the postseason as well. But MWC COY? Steve Fisher is in the driver's seat for that one right now.
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