Steve Fisher News Conference Quotes
Oct. 9, 2012
SAN DIEGO --
San Diego State basketball is almost here. We are starting with a Midnight Madness, and for those of you who have followed us at San Diego State, you know that we haven't done too many of these. My preference is to do it in a closed setting, and when we have our first game, we open ourselves to the public. But there has been such an outcry from first our players and then the students and everybody to have a Midnight Madness this year. So we're very excited about it. A lot of people have put in a lot of work, and I'm hoping I don't fall asleep before it's over. It will be smoke and mirrors and all kinds of stuff that will have no relevance on our team, but it's going to be fun. We will all participate, the men and the women. We're looking forward to it. My hope is that we'll be an excited, good crowd led by The Show and others to make it a fun event. Then we'll start practice on Saturday to get ourselves ready for the season. It seems every year the season start sooner than the previous one, and this year it will be even more so with the first game that counts. We are playing the game that counts on November 9th against Syracuse. That's coming really fast. So we'll have a challenge to get the team ready to go, but it will be a fun kind of challenge. We've got a lot of good players that can't wait to get started. The anticipation and excitement that everybody's talked about, a sellout arena, an atmosphere that most in the country would die to have in their building, we have. We want to continue to have that. We need our fans and we need everyone involved to feel and want to be a part of it. So it's with great anticipation and excitement that we start the season. But we'll be doing the same work that we've done going on 14 years now in preparation for the season. But it's a fun time around Montezuma Mesa for all of us in every sport.
Q. Is this been the most hyped team you've had during a season at San Diego State?
I would say it's probably the most talked about team that we've had. To be honest with you, right now it's not the best team we've had. I'll harken back to the first time we ever got rated two years ago. I knew how good that team was because they had all those guys at a very level that had done it the year before and were returning. You might say, well you had guys returning from last year. We do, but not to that degree in terms of the numbers that we had then, and they were all going to be seniors, too. With the exception of Kawhi (Leonard), who played like a senior. Yeah, it's the most hyped up team. We won't match the record we had two years ago. 34 3, there is nobody in the country that's going to do that, but we're going to have a good team.
Q. At this point, how set are you in the starting lineup or is that still up in the air?
We have 12 guys on scholarship, 11 of whom will start and are eligible. James Johnson is not eligible until next semester. And I know we have 11 guys that all think they're positively going to start, so it will be competitive. That will be everybody's challenge to earn your opportunity, and I'm not going to pick the starting lineup. Our players will help me decide who is going to be out there, and our starting lineup in all probability will vary, especially early. I do believe that even for the veterans like Jamaal (Franklin) and Chase (Tapley) and James Rahon and others that played a lot last year. They're still going to play, but their minutes in all probability will all drop down some. We'll have more players that will play. Last year we had a limited squad to choose from. This year we've got a lot of guys and they can all play. So that will be part of what we try to kind of find out about as we move forward. We'll probably be finding out about that right into the conference season in terms of what lineups will be best, and who will best fit. Can these kids truly play multiple spots? Can we go real small? By real small, have five guys that you could think of as perimeter players all out there together.
Q. It's interesting that you brought up that team from two years ago. The reason they were so successful was they were so versatile. Do you see that versatility with this year's team?
We have guys that can play multiple spots both offensively and defensively. So, yes. We'll have, for instance, J.J. O'Brien that you might see him playing in the post, guarding the 4 or 5 man on the other team. You might see him playing point guard. I use him as one example. But we've got five or six guys that could go that way. Yes, we're going to be versatile.
Q. The depth you've been able to add in for this year probably comes at a really good time when you look at your preseason game lineup, to be able to keep everybody fresh, and strong and moving forward from there. Would you agree to that?
We've got depth. And it's always good to have depth. I'd rather have the challenge of being able to work that out as opposed to trying to milk the clock so we can keep a guy on the floor that really shouldn't be on the floor because he's so exhausted. We've had that in the past also. I like the make up of our team. I like not only the competitiveness, but I like the fact that they truly do like one another and get along and compete like crazy. But it's a nice group to be with. They'll be a fun team to watch, and hopefully a successful team as we move forward. We've got to say, how can we play more people? That is part of my job too.
Q. Do you believe in developing a little bit of a magic about your team? I know the team two years ago was able to go 34-3 and win a lot of games on last second shots. Seemed like every time you needed something, D.J. or somebody would step up and make a big shot. Is that something you talk about and try to develop as your starting off the new season?
Usually when you've got talent, even when you don't play great, talent can overcome. I'm going to go back to Wisconsin Green Bay in about our fifth game. We're playing and there are ten people in the gym. We're in Oxford, Ohio, and we're down 20 points in the first half and it looked like we were going to get beaten by 30. All of a sudden, we righted the ship and wound up winning an ugly game. We were a lot better than Wisconsin-Green Bay. So you have to not accept not playing well and finding a way to win. But good teams with good talent usually will find ways to be in games, even when they're not at their best. Then you hope you have good fortune to do what you said. Last year, we had 13 games that went down to 30 seconds or less, either team could win, and we won 10 of the 13, and you remember some of them. Will we do that this year? Hopefully, we won't have as many. Hopefully, we'll be ahead in more of those kinds of games. But good teams feel they're going to find a way to win. We believe now and we're bouncing up and down, and we believe we're going to win too. We believe we're going to find a way to win. I think all good programs with good players, when they have a measure of success, get that feeling. You can't not work, you can't just say we're going to win. You've got to work. Our kids have worked.
Q. Does Madness on the Mesa kind of help establish a bit of swagger for your team? Not one that's detrimental, but one that gives confidence for the team to move forward?
I'm not so sure about what having Midnight Madness will do for our team. Our kids are excited about it. I think they've earned an opportunity to have fun with people in the stands, and they're very excited about it. They've seen others do it, and they've talked about doing it. I've said, well, `wait till next year.' Now we've got this year that we are going to do it. But I don't think that's going to have anything to do with swagger or anything else about our team. It will be a fun evening though. It will be.
Q. Could you talk about your game on The Midway against Syracuse?
We are going to play Syracuse in a San Diego event, and this city likes events and is good at putting on big events. We think this is going to be one. It will be the first time I've ever played a game on an aircraft carrier, on a ship, and first time for San Diego State. It will draw national attention, and it will be good for both teams. We're playing a terrific team in Syracuse that's long and athletic and plays a 2 3 zone. It makes it hard for you to get inside. I'm sure the wind will be blowing some, so it will be a challenge in a lot of ways. But it's exciting. Our kids are very much looking forward to the opportunity.
Q. What's that say about the program for you guys to be eligible to play in a game like that, nationally televised on The Midway?
I do believe it says that we're a program that's not just greater San Diego knows about, but we're a program that when we travel recruiting in different parts of the country and they see us with a bag or a logo, `Oh, Aztecs, San Diego State. Boy, you guys were really good last year. I watched you,' and on and on. We've got a program that we're proud of. We're very, very proud of. If I've had one person in another state talk about our attendance and our crowd, I've had literally 20,000. They know about us. They know about us, and they like what they see. We're hoping we can maintain that.
Q. The Orange are notorious for their 2-3 zone. We've seen in last year's game a lot of air balls being shot because of the wind. Do you practice outside, outside of the gym to try to prepare for that?
We haven't, but we will. We'll find a place. If you've got an outdoor court that you have at your house or you know of, let us know because we're in the market. We're going to go at least once or twice outside to shoot. I saw where Michigan State was 2-for-20 against North Carolina from three point range. So that will be a challenge. But I'm not worried about that. We'll go play and the wind will blow, and we'll probably air ball one or two. But hopefully we'll make a few.
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