Bud Emerson | Klish Way
Del Mar’s Steve Fisher, basketball coach of the San Diego State team earned another well deserved award as Mountain West Coach of The Year. Steve’s star player, Jamaal Franklin pulled down the Conference Player of The Year. The team earned a high seed in the NCAA “Big Dance” playoff and finished with an incredible record of 26 wins and 8 losses.
Given Coach Fisher’s reputation as Coach of the Year in the nation last year, one is tempted to say, “so what’s new?” In reality, this extraordinary achievement is not what was expected because this was a “transition year” having lost four starters from last season’s Sweet 16 team. With a lineup of only nine scholarship players, usually at least twelve, Coach Fisher fielded a lineup of four guards and a short forward with knee problems.
This year’s team lost 27% of last year’s scoring and 20% of last year’s rebounding.
They were picked to finish no higher than third in the conference and not to make the Big Dance. They finished on top of the conference.
How does he do it? Coach Fisher is the acknowledged Dean of basketball in the west. He is a superb teaching coach. He is a great recruiter. And he is an outstanding motivator. He used their small numbers and size and low expectations to unify these young men into a high energy, fearless, selfless team that welcomed the challenges of teams with more reputed talent. The team excelled and the fan base grew, especially the student “Show” which built their home arena into the most feared setting for visiting teams.
Coach Fisher’s secret seems to be recruiting promising kids and turning them into poised, accomplished young men. He is well known for producing teams with character, probably one of the main reasons the parents of these kids trust him to develop their sons. It is remarkable how often the players describe him as a “father figure.”
If you think last year’s top team and this year’s extraordinary team are exceptional, wait until next year. Coach Fisher has a class of recruits coming in that is the envy of every college team in the country. He took this year’s low expectations and created winners. Imagine what he will do with next year’s high expectations. Good luck getting tickets.
Del Mar is proud of our coach and wishes him well. They don’t make them any better.