The Aztecs Sixth Man-the Show
How important is a coach in college basketball? If you happened to catch San Diego State’s comeback win over New Mexico, you know the answer.
New Mexico was beating the s— out of the Aztecs, pounding the ball inside to their two bigs, In the second half, the Lobos opened up a 16 point lead. Game over. Thanks for playing. Drive safely.
But that wily old fox Steve Fisher wasn’t about to give up. In his 15 years as coach Fisher has rebuilt the once down-trodden basketball program at SDSU. It’s the hottest ticket in town. 12,414 every night. 38 straight sellouts. This was the biggest game in San Diego State’s history.
“Time Out,” Fisher said.
With his team stumbling and bumbling, Fisher had to reach deep into his bag of tricks. A staunch man-to-man guy like Bobby Knight, out of desperation he pulled a 1-3-1 matchup zone out of his memory bank. As far as I know, the Aztecs have never played zone. I don’t know if they’ve even zoned up in practice unless they were emulating an opponent’s defense.
San Diego State is a great defensive team. In a zone, their long-armed defenders extended their tentacles to mid-court. New Mexico had to star their offense from just inside the mid-court line. The Lobos big guys? They disappeared. The Aztecs applied so much pressure that Captain Kirk and Bear Claw became non-factors. The Lobos acted like they had never faced a zone defense before.
Blocking shots, forcing turnovers and getting the ball to main man Xavier Thames, The Tecs came roaring back, going on an incredible 19-2 run to win the game and win outright the Mountain West Conference title.
Steve Fisher is 68, looks 58 and acts 38.Long time assistant Brian Dutcher carries this ridiculous title of “Head Coach in Waiting.” He may have to wait a little longer.