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March 17, 2014

Steve Fisher

COACH FISHER:テつ We are like every Coach in America who is playing, up to our ears in tape on our first opponent and starting to get tape on a potential second opponent.テつ Very, very excited to be in the field, to be playing.テつ I said this yesterday to our team, that if you don't get goose bumps when you go out and see or hear the song leading into the start of the Selection Sunday, then something's wrong, something's wrong with you.テつ We all do.テつ I do.
It's a privilege to be a part of this spectacular event, and we are, and we have been for five straight years.テつ I think at times if you're not careful you begin to think it's a divine right that you're in it.テつ When those of us that have gone stretches where we haven't been in it know that you work to get there.テつ You earn your way in, but you should be so excited when you're there, and we are.テつ Our goal is to go in and play like that shows with our energy and effort, and we've done that most of the season which is why we're 29‑4.
So we are ‑‑ final touches as we get ready to head up to Spokane tomorrow and get ready for our first round game with NewMexico State and the common thread you all know is Marvin Menzies is coaching there.テつ He was on our original staff at San Diego State.テつ Aerick Sanders who was in my first recruiting class in the year 2000.テつ We helped Aerick get a job, his first job, and then Marvin just hired him last summer at NewMexico State.テつ So there is a strong Aztec connection there.
We'll be bitter enemies for 40 minutes.テつ Then we'll be great friends like we are right now when that game is over.テつ Anything for me?

Q.テつ Can you address the size of their big guy?テつ I saw some video of him last night, and that's about as big a guy as you can put on the floor it seems like.
COACH FISHER:テつ He is that.テつ I think they said he's the biggest player in college basketball.テつ I think he's a legit 7'4" or whatever they say, 350 pounds.テつ He's so vastly improved from a year ago.テつ He's a force.テつ He's a hard guy to maneuver around and they throw it to him early and often in that low post.テつ They are like us.テつ They have made more free throws than their opponents have shot, and I can see why after watching tape on him.
They throw it he and they have another 6'9", 250‑pounder who looks small by comparison.テつ He will present a challenge for us, no question.

Q.テつ A variety of thoughts on NewMexico State and their team?
COACH FISHER:テつ If you're in the field, you're good.テつ If you're in the field, you're good enough to win.テつ I remember watching Marvin's team play a couple of years ago.テつ A couple years ago, maybe more than that, but they were playing Michigan State who may have been a 2 or a 3 seed in the first round.テつ He did everything but win the game.テつ Lost right at the end.テつ So the more tape I've watched, the more impressed I've been with their team.
They're well‑coached.テつ They know what they want to do.テつ They make it hard for you to drive in when they've got a 7'5" guy inside, and they are efficient with their offense.テつ So this is a good team we're playing.テつ This is a team that now I believe they've gone three straight years, and four out of five or four out of six, something like that.テつ So they're used to being there also.

Q.テつ They score over 77 points a game.テつ They shoot over 49%.テつ They're one of the most efficient teams offensively.テつ So do you have to avoid getting into a track meet with them and try to slow it down?テつ What is your initial impression after looking at some tape?
COACH FISHER:テつ We can't let them do this.テつ Reach up and go on your tip toes and lay it in, which they get a lot of.テつ So it's easier said than done.テつ They do a nice job of passing the ball out of the post.テつ They do a nice job of passing the ball very quickly from side‑to‑side.テつ If you take away one post, they quickly swing it and throw it inside to the other post.テつ I don't think any of us are going to change drastically who we are.テつ So we're a pretty good defensive team.テつ We'll hopefully be able to guard them with some efficiency.テつ Not let their bigs get to the sweet spot all the time, because it will be hard to move them once they get there.テつ And be able to challenge their shots and limit them to one shot at the basket.テつ That's important.

Q.テつ Have you ever faced a guy this big?テつ I mean, not just in height but in girth?
COACH FISHER:テつ No, I don't think anybody in America has.テつ No, he's a big, big man.テつ Everything about him is so much better than it was a year ago when I believe he's only a sophomore, if I'm not mistaken.テつ So he's a guy that I know Marvin is happy to have, and he's got a little brother sitting out.テつ So he will be someone that will make it difficult on us like he has on everybody he's played this year.

Q.テつ Coach, a day removed from the big selection yesterday.テつ What has been the point you've tried to make to the team today moving towards the game?
COACH FISHER:テつ We haven't talked to the team yet today.テつ We practice after the press conference.テつ The kids will be coming over.テつ But what we'll do is have a 20‑minute film session beforehand to get them familiar with personnel, and then we'll go out.
Today is going to be a form and technique day.テつ Tomorrow will be a tempo day where we'll go hard tomorrow.テつ Today we're going to go out, and this is what we want to do.テつ This is how we want to do it, and kind of go half speed through form and technique stuff.テつ We have our own routine.テつ We do some things every day, which we'll do, but then when we get in preparation.テつ Today will be a learning day.テつ Tomorrow will be a competition day.

Q.テつ The last three years in a row you guys have been bounced from a team that's actually seeded below you.テつ Is there a message you want to give these guys that it doesn't matter if this is our second highest seed in school history?テつ How do you as a coach really pound into them that right now the numbers don't matter?
COACH FISHER:テつ We don't even talk about numbers.テつ You've reminded me, and I didn't realize that was the case, but I'm sure you have your figures correct.テつ Anybody can beat anybody.テつ Eventually a 1 will get beat by a 16.テつ A year ago I know Florida Gulf Coast not only beat us, but they beat Georgetown who was a two or three seed in the first round.テつ So this is what everybody loves to see.
Now, there is not a dramatic difference between San Diego State and NewMexico State when you talk about the ones and the 16s, that's where everybody that's not a rooter for that team pulls for the underdog.テつ And that happened last year when we played‑‑ when we played second game, we're watching and it was like a home game for Florida Gulf Coast against Georgetown, and then it was the same way the next day.テつ All the neutrals cheer for the underdog, and that's natural.テつ That's what gets people watching, and that's what gets people invited to the ESPYs when you beat somebody like that.
But we're not worried about that.テつ Our kids are smart enough to know that you have to be ready to play, and we have been.テつ There's not a whole lot of difference between who we are and who they are.

Q.テつ What are your expectations for how far your team can go?
COACH FISHER:テつ Well, I'm hoping we're playing for three weeks.テつ I'm hoping we're doing something that you want to talk about next week and then the week after.
We're going up to Spokane to win two games.テつ We're going up to Spokane to say we have things to do.テつ We want to be playing a week from now, but we want to take care of business in Game 1 and then in Game 2.テつ So we're no different than most of the teams.テつ We're not just happy to be here.テつ We want to make some noise and win some games.テつ How much, how many?テつ We'll find out.
Smart enough to know you have to be good.テつ You have to play well.テつ Probably get a little bit lucky along the way.テつ All you have to do is go back and look at the NorthCarolina State 30 for 30 that they've got out and see how you have to have good fortune.テつ You can go every year and you can see teams that advance and they do it sometimes when the crazy things happen.テつ So we're hoping we're part of the madness a week from now that we're talking again.

Q.テつ This is a team that's been there before.テつ Four of the players were all there last year.テつ Do you approach it differently with a group of guys that have been there before?
COACH FISHER:テつ I don't think you approach it differently, but it's a comfortable feeling for me to know that we do have guys that played in the tournament last year.テつ A couple that maybe played in it the year before that know the drill.テつ When you get there, it's like the NCAA is the all mighty ruler.テつ If they tell you to go stand in the corner for 30 minutes, then you have to do that until they call you to the press conference.テつ If they say you have to sit in the locker room for 45 minutes whether no one comes in or not.テつ So you don't get antsy and say why are we having to do this?テつ You know the drill.
But the nice thing about our team this year, they have been so good in so many different circumstances.テつ When we've traveled and had weather delays, when we got stuck some place.テつ You never hear them complaining.テつ So I think that's what's allowed us to be good too.テつ Rather than finding things to complain about, they've enjoyed one another's company and put a smile on their face and said I'm so happy I'm here and not some place else.

Q.テつ Everyone talks about their bigs.テつ Is this strictly a big‑man team or do they have other pieces that teams need to be worried about?
COACH FISHER:テつ No, they're a team.テつ You start with their bigs, but they‑‑ again, I'm going to ask for permission that I don't know all their names, but 23, Mullings, I believe, MVP of the league, he's good.テつ He's really good.テつ He can beat you in a lot of ways.テつ No. 5, who now that the one player got suspended has been the beneficiary of more playing time.テつ He's as good a three‑point shooter as there is in the country, and they find those guys.テつ No. 4, the freshman guard from, I think, DC, has also benefited by more playing time.テつ I'm impressed with how they move the ball, how they know how, when, and why to attack you off the dribble or to set up that next pass to get a wide‑open jumpshot.
I told Marvin when I watched tape.テつ I talked to Marvin today, last night, and I talked to him the other day.テつ I said, Marvin, I didn't know you learned so much when we were here together.テつ Your team is too good.テつ He laughed, so we could say that to one another and know that we're complimenting one another sincerely.テつ They're a good team.テつ He's done a marvelous job there.

Q.テつ What else did you guys talk about?テつ Point spreads, anything like that?
COACH FISHER:テつ We talked about how we're so happy for each other and our families that we're in the tournament.テつ But we just desperately wished we hadn't been paired up against one another.テつ That's what the thrust of it was.テつ When I saw our name with them, I said, boy, I'm happy we're going to Spokane.テつ I'm happy we're a 4 seed, but I wish it was someone other than Marvin Menzies at NewMexico State we're playing.
He text me before I called him with that exact same message.テつ So that's two friends talking to one another.

Q.テつ I'm guessing you're not surprised that Marvin has players from all over the world that a lot of people have never heard of before?
COACH FISHER:テつ Nothing Marvin does surprises me.テつ You meet him and you're instantly a friend.テつ You meet him and you think you've known him forever.テつ I'm not surprised that he's done what he's done.テつ He's got a great ability to sincerely communicate with people and it comes off in a way that no one else could bring it across.テつ He's a terrific person, and he's an exceptionally good coach.テつ So I'm happy for him.テつ I'm happy for what he's done.
Obviously, he's had various stops from San Diego State.テつ He went to USC from us, Vegas with Lon Kruger, then Louisville with Pitino, and now at NewMexico State.テつ So he's had the experience to be with different styles, philosophies, and glean from everybody and fit into Marvin Menzies' basketball which is good.テつ And he can recruit, and he does.テつ He has them from all over the world.
I think we should put a cap on how many people from outside the continental United States you could have, and he wouldn't have a team if you did that.

Q.テつ You talk about everybody rooting for the underdog.テつ What's your gut telling you as far as State fans showing up to Spokane?
COACH FISHER:テつ Well, I'd like to say we're going to have half the building.テつ We'll have our die hards.テつ That's an expensive ticket at the last minute to get anywhere in today's world.テつ I do know that those who are not there who I saw yesterday, who I've seen at every single home game, who I've seen in the mall, who I've seen in town who are so excited to be Aztecs, I know they'll be there.テつ They'll be there with Ted Leitner on the radio.テつ They'll be there with True TV as the game unfolds.
We're hoping we reward ourselves and our fans to be playing in Anaheim.テつ I promise you if we're in Anaheim, we'll have half the building.

Q.テつ Coach, do you think having lost that game on Saturday, how much does that help your team going forward?テつ Does it give you a little bit of extra edge considering it was against NewMexico and you have the conference title?テつ Are the guys ready to move on and take on the NCAA Tournament?
COACH FISHER:テつ I don't think that's going to have any impact at all on what happens in the NCAA Tournament.テつ Whether we had one‑‑ we did lose.テつ I don't think it has any significance on it.テつ Our players, our guys are excited.テつ They're going to be ready to play.テつ NewMexico will not be on anyone's minds when we approach practice today, tomorrow, Wednesday, and prepare for that game on Thursday.テつ We want to win.テつ We want to win.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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