San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher has retired and longtime assistant coach Brian Dutcher will take over the Aztecs after being the team’s coach-in-waiting since 2011, according to a report from Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union Tribune.
Tuesday will feature the formal news conference that will introduce Dutcher, who has been with Fisher since the coach’s tenure at Michigan. Fisher’s son, Mark, is also expected to remain with the program as a special assistant, according to Zeigler’s report.
Fisher finishes his 18-year career at San Diego State with a 386-209 mark and a 168-114 record in Mountain West play. The Aztecs made eight NCAA tournament appearances and two Sweet 16s with Fisher.
Also famous for his national-title winning tenure at Michigan, Fisher won the title in 1989 and had two Final Four appearances vacated as head coach of the famous “Fab Five” in 1992 and 1993. Fisher lasted nine seasons at Michigan before leaving and spending one season as an assistant coach of the Sacramento Kings.
The 72-year-old Fisher finishes with a career record of 495–288.
Dutcher has been an associate head coach under Fisher at both Michigan and San Diego State since 1989. A noted recruiter who is partly responsible for landing the “Fab Five” the 57-year-old Dutcher gets his first chance to be a Division I head coach with San Diego State.
Utah, San Diego St headline field for Diamond Head Classic
Sunday evening San Diego State received a nice boost to its perimeter rotation, as former San Francisco point guard Devin Watson announced that he’ll join the Mountain West program. Watson, a native of Oceanside, California, will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 campaign.
As a sophomore at USF Watson averaged 20.3 points and 4.9 assists in just over 34 minutes of action per game, shooting 41.8 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from beyond the arc.
When Watson becomes eligible for competition, the Aztec backcourt could also have Jeremy Hemsley, Trey Kell and Missouri transfer Montaque Gill-Caesar, giving head coach Steve Fisher a formidable perimeter attack to call upon. The Aztecs may not be done in the transfer “market” this spring, as they’re one of the schools being considered by former Washington State center Valentine Izundu.
Izundu, who originally was not granted a release to San Diego State, is also considering Fresno State and UNLV. And as a grad student, Izundu will be eligible to compete immediately.
Mountain West Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards
The Mountain West certainly had an interesting regular season. UNLV, expected to be a factor both within the league and nationally, took a nosedive early in conference play and arrives at the conference tournament (in their building, no less) with an undermanned rotation and an interim head coach. Fresno State and Boise State managed to finish second and third in the league, but a familiar face separated itself as the class of the Mountain West: San Diego State. The Aztecs still have their issues offensively, but Jeremy Hemsley has been one of the Mountain West’s best freshmen and they’ve got a veteran group that remains fully committed on the defensive end of the floor.
Steve Fisher’s team won the conference by three games, and they’ll be expected to handle their business in Las Vegas as well. But given how eventful this season has been for the Mountain West, with everything from blown calls that decided games (New Mexico/San Diego State and Boise State/Colorado State) to the conference presidents not telling the coaches of their decision to trim the field to eight teams beginning next season, this could end up being a basketball version of a Hunter S. Thompson book.
Having played in six of the last seven Mountain West tournament title games (winning in 2010 and 2011), the Aztecs are used to having success in Las Vegas. That being said, the fact that the program hasn’t won the event since 2011 should serve as extra motivation this week.
San Diego State can still have the occasional lull offensively, as they ranked fifth in the Mountain West (conference games only) in field goal percentage (42.9 percent) and seventh in three-point percentage (32.8), but they have players who can make plays on that end of the floor. Jeremy Hemsley runs the show, fellow guard Trey Kell averaged 16.2 points per game in league play and Winston Shepard dished out 3.3 assists per game from the wing. But what makes this team go is their defense, as they led the Mountain West in both field goal and three-point percentage defense.
And if they lose?: Fresno State
Rodney Terry’s Bulldogs finished second in the Mountain West this season, with one of the conference’s best players in senior guard Marvelle Harris leading the way. In total Fresno State has seven players averaging at least 7.9 points per game, and they take better care of the basketball than any other team in the conference. The Bulldogs arrive in Vegas playing their best basketball of the season too, as they won six straight and eight of their last nine to end the regular season. Rebounding is a concern, especially with leading rebounder Torren Jones having missed the last ten games, but with Harris leading the way the Bulldogs have a shot.
Boise State: James Webb III’s health will be key here. If he’s in good physical condition the Broncos can win the whole thing, with Mikey Thompson, Anthony Drmic and Nick Duncan among the veterans capable of putting points on the board.
New Mexico: The Lobos have struggled with turnover issues throughout conference play. But in guard Elijah Brown and forward Tim Williams they have one of the better tandems in the Mountain West.
First-year head coach Eric Musselman’s done a very good job with this group, which includes one of the best freshmen in the Mountain West in forward Cameron Oliver. The Wolf Pack won ten conference games, even with the departure of A.J. West early in the season. What complicates this choice is the health of Marqueze Coleman, and a tough matchup with New Mexico in the quarterfinals.
The Bubble Dwellers
San Diego State: Virtually any scenario involving the Aztecs as an at-large team includes their making Saturday’s title game. They’ll need to win two games in Las Vegas to have a shot given the non-conference schedule, which includes losses to San Diego (bad), Little Rock and Grand Canyon (both good teams, but Little Rock isn’t a bubble team either; GCU’s a provisional Division I member). Their best bet: remove all doubt and win the automatic bid.
Mountain West Player of the Year: Josh Adams, Wyoming
Fresno State’s Marvelle Harris certainly has a good argument here, given his individual excellence and the fact that he led his team to 13 conference wins. But the pick here is Adams because of how productive he was despite playing with a young supporting cast that virtually guaranteed that defenses were geared towards shutting him down. The senior still averaged 23.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in Mountain West play. He also ranked in the top ten in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, steals and assist-to-turnover ratio.
Mountain West Coach of the Year: Steve Fisher, San Diego State
Fisher’s Aztecs were the class of the Mountain West by a wide margin, winning the conference by three games. When a team wins the conference by a comfortable margin, as was the case here, the head coach deserves to be rewarded. San Diego State’s defense grabbed the headlines, but they were also able to do enough offensively to separate themselves from the pack.
First-Team All-Mountain West:
Josh Adams, Wyoming (POY)
Marvelle Harris, Fresno State: Harris averaged 22.7 points and 4.5 assists per game in Mountain West play, ranking third in scoring and first in assists while also leading the conference in steals (2.6 per game).
Elijah Brown, New Mexico: Brown finished second in the conference behind Adams in scoring (22.9 ppg in conference play), and he was also ranked in the top ten in field goal percentage, assists, free throw percentage and three-point percentage.
Trey Kell, San Diego State: The champs deserve to have someone on the first team, and while Shepard could have an argument because of his versatility the pick here is Kell. He gave SDSU a much-needed offensive spark in league play.
James Webb III, Boise State: The preseason pick for Mountain West POY, Webb averaged 16.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game in conference play.
Second Team All-Mountain West:
Marqueze Coleman, Nevada
Patrick McCaw, UNLV
Antwan Scott, Colorado State
Winston Shepard, San Diego State
Tim Williams, New Mexico
Defining moment of the season: Boise State ends “The Streak”
CBT Prediction: San Diego State takes care of business, winning the automatic bid and earning a seventh straight trip to the NCAA tournament.
San Diego State’s impressive late-game streak ends at 164 games
Entering Saturday, San Diego State had won 164 straight games in which it held a lead with five minutes remaining. While there have been some close calls, including a controversial finish against New Mexico earlier this season, Steve Fisher’s Aztecs made a habit of closing out such games over the last six seasons.
That streak came to an end at Viejas Arena, as Boise State closed the game on a 12-0 run over the final 1:04 to beat San Diego State 66-63. The Broncos, who took the lead for good on a Nick Duncan three with 22.2 seconds remaining, played without their best player as James Webb III sat out due to injury.
So how did Boise State managed to erase a nine-point deficit without reply? The answer is simple: San Diego State picked the worst possible time to start missing free throws. San Diego State missed seven straight foul shots, opening the door for Boise State to come back and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
San Diego State, which wrapped up the Mountain West regular season title last Sunday at San José State, is no lock to make its seventh straight NCAA tournament appearance and this loss is a damaging one. Outside of a win over California in Las Vegas, SDSU doesn’t have much on its non-conference résumé with the loss to San Diego being the most damaging blow (Little Rock and Grand Canyon, who both won at SDSU, are RPI Top 100 teams). And with the rest of the conference struggling this season, the quality win opportunities that would come in past seasons against Mountain West foes haven’t been present.
Saturday’s loss doesn’t help San Diego State from a résumé standpoint, placing even more pressure on them for the upcoming Mountain West tournament. Given the issues with their non-conference schedule and the strength of the conference, getting an at-large bid was going to be tough for San Diego State. Saturday’s loss simply puts even more pressure on the Aztecs to win the conference tournament, thus leaving no doubt as to whether or not they’ll make a seventh straight NCAA tournament.
LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 5 Xavier beats No. 1 Villanova, No. 8 Iowa and No. 9 Arizona fall
GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 5 Xavier 90, No.1 Villanova 83
The top two teams in the Big East met at the Cintas Center, with the Musketeers picking up the win to move within a game of first place. In total six Musketeers reached double figures with Edmond Sumner and JP Macura scoring 19 apiece, as they gave the Villanova defense fits all night. The question now: does Chris Mack’s team have what it takes to play deep into the NCAA tournament?
Wisconsin 67, No. 8 Iowa 59: Zak Showalter limited Peter Jok to four second half points as the Badgers won for the nine time in their last ten games. Bronson Koenig scored 15 points and Nigel Hayes 12 for Wisconsin, which added another quality win to its résumé. And the biggest reason for the improvement in Greg Gard’s team has been the play of his reserves.
Colorado 75, No. 9 Arizona 72: Colorado also added another quality win to its résumé, as they held off the Wildcats in Boulder. Josh Scott accounted for 26 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in the win, and George King added 14 points and seven rebounds. Ryan Anderson led the Wildcats with 19 points and ten rebounds, but Arizona will now nd help if they’re to win another Pac-12 title.
No. 7 North Carolina 80, NC State 68: No. 7 North Carolina rebounded from a slow start to win at NC State. The Tar Heels didn’t have an answer for Cat Barber (32 points) early, but the Wolfpack were unable to do enough to keep UNC under wraps on the other end of the floor. Brice Johnson finished with 22 points and 11 boards for North Carolina, which leads the ACC, but Marcus Paige continues to struggle offensively.
Ryan Spangler, Oklahoma: 26 points and 14 rebounds in the Sooners’ home win over Oklahoma State.
Chris Hass, Bucknell: 30 points, eight rebounds and two assists in the Bison’s 86-83 double overtime win at Lafayette.
Edmond Sumner and JP Macura, Xavier: Sumner and Macura scored 19 points apiece, with Sumner also accounting for six rebounds and nine assists, in the Musketeers’ 90-83 win over No. 1 Villanova.
Maverick Rowan, NC State: Rowan scored eight points, shooting 2-for-12 from the field, in the Wolfpack’s 80-68 loss to No. 7 North Carolina.
Nick Faust, Long Beach State: Three points on 1-for-9 shooting and three turnovers in the 49ers’ loss at UC Irvine.
Devonte Brown and Khristian Smith, Indiana State: Brown and Smith combined to score 12 points on 4-for-21 shooting in the Sycamores’ 66-44 loss at Northern Iowa.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
No. 3 Oklahoma took control of its game against Oklahoma State in the second half, outscoring the Cowboys by 19 points as they won by the final score of 71-49. Ryan Spangler was the star for the Sooners, finishing with 26 points and 14 rebounds.
Pittsburgh missed out on a quality win, as they lost at home to No. 11 Louisville 67-60. Quentin Snider led four Cardinals in double figures with 14 points while also dishing out seven assists, and Damion Lee added 13 points.
No. 13 Oregon won its school-record 24th straight home game, beating Washington State 76-62. Elgin Cook finished with 24 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks, and Chris Boucher added 18 points, 13 boards and four blocked shots.
No. 21 Texas A&M avoided a bad loss, beating Mississippi State 68-66 in College Station. Danuel House scored all 16 of his points in the second half, and Tyler Davis finished with 15 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots.
No. 23 Notre Dame rebounded from its close loss at Georgia Tech with a 69-58 win at Wake Forest, limiting the Demon Deacons to 31.4 percent shooting. Zach Auguste posted a double-double for the Fighting Irish with 18 points and 12 rebounds, with Steve Vasturia (16 points) and Demetrius Jackson (15) also scoring in double figures.
OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS
Houston picked up its 20th win of the season, beating UCF 88-61 in Orlando. The Cougars, who will in all likelihood need to win the AAC tournament to go dancing, haven’t won 20 games in a season since 2013.
Wednesday was an important night for bubble teams in the Atlantic 10, with VCU, George Washington and St. Bonaventure all in action. While the Colonials (73-61 win at Richmond) and Bonnies (80-76 win over Duquesne) took care of business the Rams didn’t, losing 76-69 at George Mason.
Bucknell retained a one-game lead on Lehigh in the Patriot League as they won 86-83 at Lafayette in double overtime. The Bison host Navy Saturday, while Lehigh (winners of eight straight) visits Army.
Marquette picked up 66-61 win at Creighton, which could be a crippling blow to the Bluejays’ NCAA tournament hopes. Henry Ellenson posted his 17th double-double with 22 points and ten rebounds.
San Diego State wrapped up the outright Mountain West title with a 71-61 win at Wyoming, despite Wyoming’s Josh Adams scoring 27 points. The Aztecs lead second place Fresno State by four games, and if they won out this would be the largest margin for a league champion in Mountain West history.
UC Irvine, which lost to first-place Hawai’i Saturday night, grabbed sole possession of second place in the Big West with a 90-69 win over Long Beach State. The Anteaters (10-3) are ahead of the 49ers (9-4) by a game, and they hold the head to head tiebreaker due to their sweep of the season series.
Stephen Thompson Jr.’s three-pointer as time expired gave Oregon State an 82-81 win over Washington in Corvallis. And with both teams looking to play their way into the NCAA tournament, this finish is an important one for both teams.