San Diego State University Men’s Basketball team has been on the rise over the last 4 season. They have made it to the NCAA Tournament in each of those 4 seasons and have been ranked the last 3. Not to mention, Steve Fisher has led the Aztecs to 8 straight 20-win seasons.
2010-11 Season saw the Aztecs ranked in the Top-10 nearly all season. The Kawhi Leonard lead Aztecs only sustained 3 losses, leading the team to a school record for 34 wins. There first 2 losses were to BYU, only to be avenged in the MWC Tournament, and the third loss was to UConn who went on to win the tournament.
My point is, SDSU lacks respect among the East-Coast bias that is NCAA Basketball and the rankings.
After losing Kawhi Leonard, the Aztecs were not ranked in the pre season. It was supposed to be a ‘rebuilding’ year. Even with all those expectations, or the lack there-of, Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley, and Xavier Thames came to show they were meant to be back in the tournament.
Last year they were in and out of the top 25 all season. They were a FGCU loss away from making their second Sweet-16 in 3 seasons.
Moving onto the 2013-14 season, SDSU has been getting no love. Only after back-to-back wins verse rank teams did the Aztecs crack the exclusive Top 25. After two big wins in 3 days, and the resume that Steve Fisher has built in recent years, SDSU enters the Top 25 at #24… 24?!?!
Last week they were not even among the category “other teams getting votes.” No one even considered SDSU. Only after back to back wins verse ranked teams do they get ranked. Look at the Coaches Poll, they are not even ranked. How are we not ranked in the Coaches Poll? Doesn’t the name “Steve Fisher” sell itself? I thought at least the coaches would respect Fisher and company.
This year so far our body of work suggests a ranked team. We are 5-1 with 2 wins vs ranked teams and our only loss coming to #2 Arizona, who we played tough at home. San Diego State’s resume as a program coming into this season would suggest writers and coaches would have respect for what we have done and what we are capable of at this moment in time.
Coaches and Poll Voters biggest doubts are probably because of the loss of Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley. I think that is exactly why we are playing so well this season. We are transitioning very well because we have many role players on the team.
First of all, Xavier Thames was solid two seasons ago. Last year he was injured most of the season and that hurt us. This year he is healthy and has played stellar, especially in the Wooden Legacy, winning MVP honors.
J.J. Obrien ended last season playing very well and has continued that season. He seems to always be good for 12 pts and 7 rebounds. He is a starter and does his job.
Winston Shepard has been the key to the transition. Last year he had a very limited role. This year Steve Fisher has let him play and grow similar to how he handled Jamaal Franklin and his wildness. Winston has been good at times, but is often sloppy. He is continuing to get better as a former McDonalds 5-star recruit, and his mid-range jump shot is tremendous. There are a lot of good things to come out of him.
We have bunch of role players. Dwayne Pollee and Dakari Allen have been good additions as scorers and Josh Davis has been killing the boards with Skylar Spencer getting blocks. Pollee was supposed to be Mountain West Newcomer of the year last year, and is finally making an impact. Josh Davis has a great deal of potential and is still getting into his groove as a scorer, but is playing solid defense and is a rebound machine.
Just as Steve Fisher said, SDSU just needs to keep winning and keep proving to the nation that they deserve their spot in the top 25.