Gordon Clanton | Oakridge Cove
From the SDSU official athletic site. Photo AP.
Go, Aztecs! Del Mar resident Steve Fisher and Torrey Pines alum James Rahon are enjoying a championship season with the San Diego State University Aztecs basketball team, which ended the regular season 29-2 and # 7 in the country.
Already co-champs in regular-season play, the Aztecs won the Mountain West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas, thrashing arch-rival Brigham Young University, 72-54, thus avenging their only two losses. I was there when our guys cut down the net at the Thomas & Mack Arena.
Coach Fisher was named conference coach of the year for the first time in his long career, the first SDSU coach to win this honor since 1985. The Aztecs, who have never won a game in the NCAA Tournament, were awarded a No. 2 seed in the West bracket – one of the eight best teams in the 68-team field. At 32-2, the Aztecs have the best record in the country.
A new day. As an SDSU season-ticket holder since the days of point guard Tony Gwynn (who chose baseball for a career) and power forward Michael Cage (an NBA rebounding champ), I can tell you that nothing like this has ever happened here before. For too many years, Aztecs basketball was at the low end in league standings and graduation rates.
Coach Fisher, who won the NCAA championship at Michigan in 1989, has recruited wonderfully athletic players and taught them to subordinate their egos and to play as a team -- and to play tenacious, disruptive team defense. This team does not have a single star. They have many ways to beat you. Coach Fisher is a patient teacher, not a screamer, a class act.
On a team with three senior stars (Malcolm Thomas, Billy White, and D! J! Gay!) and a sophomore with NBA potential (Kawhi Leonard), James Rahon is the Aztecs sixth man, the first guy off the bench, the team’s best three-point shooter. A junior transfer from Santa Clara, James has enormous potential for next year.
P. S: TV or not TV. The jubilation of this championship season is tempered by the inexcusable lack of TV coverage for Aztecs basketball. SDSU signed an ill-advised long-term contract with the Mountain, the cable network of the Mountain West Conference, which, unbelievably, is not available to Time-Warner Cable subscribers.
To protest this outrage, contact Time-Warner at
Also e-mail to SDSU Athletic Director Jim Sterk ADSDSU@MAIL.SDSU.EDU.
Gordon Clanton teaches Sociology at San Diego State University. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LATE BREAKING NEWS March 21: Aztecs win first two rounds of playoff and now go to the round of “Sweet Sixteen” to face off the other fifteen best teams in the country. By the time of our publication, we will know if their achievements elevate them to the exalted levels of the “elite eight” or even the “final four.”