Brian Dutcher Becomes SDSU Men's Basketball Head Coach
April 11, 2017
SAN DIEGO -- Long-time San Diego State men's basketball assistant coach Brian Dutcher has become the program's 15th head coach following Steve Fisher's retirement announcement today. Dutcher, who has been on Montezuma Mesa for all of Fisher's 18 seasons, held the title of associate head coach/head coach in waiting the last six years.
Over the course of his time at San Diego State, Dutcher has helped the Aztecs reach the postseason 13 times, including eight trips to the NCAA tournament, win a conference-best 10 Mountain West titles and record 12 seasons of at least 20 victories.
Since 2008-09, Dutcher and SDSU twice advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 (2011, 2014) and NIT semifinal round (2009, 2016), won at least 25 games seven times and captured seven MW championships (five regular season, two tournament).
Dutcher arrived at SDSU shortly after Fisher was hired on March 26, 1999. In his first year in "America's Finest City," the Aztecs won only five games, but improved upon their win total from the season before. After that, San Diego State posted a 14-14 record in 2000-01, before winning the 2002 MW Championship, earning an NCAA tournament bid and finishing with a 21-12 record. The 2002-03 campaign saw SDSU receive an NIT invitation, which culminated in the program's first Division I postseason victory.
After helping attract the first McDonald's All-American to the 2002-03 squad, Dutcher assisted in securing the signatures of future starters and all-league performers Brandon Heath and Marcus Slaughter. The duo started their first two seasons on The Mesa, leading to the 2005-06 season that produced the school's first Mountain West regular-season and tournament title sweep. The Aztecs advanced to the NCAA tournament and ultimately won a then-school-record 24 games. That appearance led to a string of 10 consecutive postseason berths.
From the 2006-07 campaign through 2008-09, San Diego State registered 20 or more wins and went to three straight NITs. In 2009, the Aztecs advanced to the NIT semifinals and broke the previous school record with 26 victories.
The run to the NIT semifinals was a springboard to the most successful run in SDSU basketball history. Led by future NBA first-round draft pick and NBA champion Kawhi Leonard, the 2009-10 Aztecs won the MW Championship, advanced to the NCAA tournament and fell four points shy of moving on to the second round before finishing with a 25-9 record.
The NCAA experience from the 2009-10 squad proved fruitful in 2010-11 when it returned all five starters, including Leonard, and a freshman named Jamaal Franklin, who would turn out to be a future MW Player of the Year and NBA draft selection. With Dutcher on staff, SDSU won its first 20 games of the year, shared the MW regular-season title and captured the MW tournament crown. The Aztecs moved on to the NCAA tournament as a No. 2 seed and won the program's first Division I NCAA tournament game. San Diego State, which was ranked as high as No. 4 and received first-place votes at one point in the season, advanced to the Sweet 16 and fell to the eventual national champion, finishing with a school-record 34 wins, a mark that still stands today. The Aztecs' also found themselves in the final top-25 polls, ranking sixth in the AP and 11th in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Five months after SDSU's record-setting 2010-11 campaign, the University elevated Dutcher from associate head coach to associate head coach/head coach in waiting.
In his first season with his new title, Dutcher and the Aztecs advanced to the 2011-12 NCAA tournament as an at-large team and recorded 26 wins. The next season, SDSU was again an at-large selection to the 2013 NCAA tournament, moved on to the round of 32 for the second time in three years and finished with 23 victories.
Another NCAA Sweet 16 run was in the cards in Dutcher's third season as the head coach in waiting. The Aztecs opened the season by winning 21 of their first 22 games, including 20 in a row at one point, and were led by seniors Xavier Thames, who would become an NBA draft pick, and Josh Davis. SDSU won the program's second outright Mountain West regular-season title and later swept through two games in Spokane, Washington, to secure its second Sweet 16 appearance in four seasons. San Diego State compiled 31 wins and finished the season ranked 13th in the AP and 12th in the Coaches after rising to as high as fifth nationally in both polls.
The 2014-15 campaign saw the Aztecs spend their fifth straight season in the top 25. In the process of winning 27 games, San Diego State grabbed its second straight MW regular-season crown and earned an at-large invitation to the NCAA tournament where they defeated St. John's in the round of 64. One season later, the Aztecs found themselves in the NIT after winning the MW by three games with a 16-2 record. Nevertheless, San Diego State won three games and qualified for the NIT national semifinals, eventually logging 28 victories.
More recently, San Diego State completed the 2016-17 slate with a 19-14 record despite experiencing a rash of injuries. The 2016 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic champions will enter 2017-18 as one of 12 teams to have won at least 19 games in 12 consecutive seasons.
Before Dutcher arrived at San Diego State, he served as assistant coach and later associate head coach at Michigan under Fisher. He spent 10 seasons on the Wolverine staff, establishing himself as one of the nation's top assistant coaches. His first year in Ann Arbor was 1989 and resulted in a national title for Michigan as he assisted then-interim head coach Fisher on the bench.
The Bloomington, Minn., native led UM's recruiting efforts in 1990-91 when the Wolverines inked Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, Jimmy King, Jalen Rose and Chris Webber. The "Fab Five" is considered perhaps the best recruiting class in NCAA history. Dutcher helped lead that group to nearly 100 wins, two berths in the NCAA championship game and a regional final over a four-year period. He was also on the Michigan staff for an NIT championship (1997).
Dutcher's recruiting prowess, however, was demonstrated by more than just the "Fab Five" haul. Michigan had the nation's top-ranked recruiting class in 1993-94 and in 1994-95, with a group that included Maurice Taylor and Jerod Ward. The accomplishment marked the first time that a university had the nation's top class in consecutive years, according to recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons.
Dutcher was born Oct. 30, 1959, in Alpena, Mich. He attended Jefferson High School in Bloomington, Minn., and went on to earn a bachelor's degree in physical education from Minnesota in 1982. While an undergraduate, he worked for his father, then-Gopher head coach Jim Dutcher. He then spent one season in the prep ranks at Apple Valley (Minn.) High School before becoming a graduate assistant at Illinois, where he earned his master's degree in physical education and athletic administration.
While in Champaign, Dutcher helped Lou Henson lead the Illini to a Big Ten championship, two appearances in the Sweet 16 and one regional final.
Dutcher's first full-time coaching job came at South Dakota State, where he spent three seasons helping turn around the Division II program before departing in 1988 for Michigan.
His final season in Ann Arbor ended with the Wolverines claiming the first-ever Big Ten Tournament championship.
Dutcher and his wife Jan have two daughters, Erin and Liza.