home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 10, 2016

Steve Fisher

Malik Pope

Winston Shepard

Trey Kell

Las Vegas, Nevada

San Diego State - 71 Utah State - 65

THE MODERATOR: Coach, if we could start with you, just some thoughts on today's game.

HEAD COACH STEVE FISHER: This was what we thought it would be, hard fought, closely contested, two teams that both desperately wanted to win. And we were playing a team tonight in the last few games were playing as well as anyone in your league. We got what we thought we were going to get. And a good, tough fistfight and we found ways to prevail. We've had games just like this in our 18-game schedule and it prepares you. It prepares you for these kind of moments and we responded and found a way to be playing tomorrow. And for that we're very appreciative.

Q. You hit that big 3 at the end to force overtime against New Mexico and a couple games later you had a big run and contributed in a lot of statistical categories. What's triggered that in you and what do you see in Malik, especially later?
MALIK POPE: See it as got to start somewhere situation. Coach said you're getting better, and you have to continue to get better. I'm trying to do as much as I can on both sides of the court to help my team win.

WINSTON SHEPARD: The whole season I said Malik is a pro. Me and him were in similar situations at that point in our career and I tell him just keep his head and that it will come. Good thing about Malik is even when he has 15 and 7 and 6 for 11 from the field he's the same as if he was 0 for 11 from the field. And I think that's the best part about him. He's happy for the team regardless of what he does. And when you're like that it boomerangs, and all of a sudden you start doing what he's doing. So I've always had a hundred percent belief and faith in him, and enjoy it while you can.

Q. Do you guys feel you were having trouble finishing on the rim or was it unlucky bounces?
WINSTON SHEPARD: Unlucky bounces.

Q. When the shot clock was down to 16 seconds left you guys were up two and they tossed it out to Jalen. What was going through your head? I'm sure you wanted to guard him in that moment. What prepared you for that moment? Did he do what you thought he would have done and the way you defended it, is that picture perfect of what wanted?
WINSTON SHEPARD: I don't know, I just tried to play defense. This is basketball, I don't know what he was going to do, I just knew I had to stay solid. And I got the best rim protector in our conference behind me and I have tremendous guys to help. So I just tried to move my feet and it fell.

Q. In the end there there were some controversial moments, the crowd was already kind of rooting against you guys because you guys are known as the villain, and in the end that exacerbated. Is that something you can draw energy from?
TREY KELL: Yeah, I say we do. We like when the crowds go against us, because it kind of gives us that extra boost of energy, just like a home crowd, basically. Because we know everyone wants us to lose. But we have the confidence in ourself. So we're comfortable in any situation that we're in.

Q. How hard is it to play in situations like this where you know your NCAA tournament hopes could be resting on every possession?
WINSTON SHEPARD: You don't think about that.

Q. Were there any surprises today from Utah State that you weren't expecting?
TREY KELL: I wouldn't say so. We knew coming in that they're a team that could score and they did in the first half. They got easy baskets and we had to tighten up in the second half. We knew coming in that every game we play in this tournament is going to be hard fought so we just tried to grind it out and we got the win.

Q. Walk us through the floater with 40 seconds left and how that spun you possibly into victory.
TREY KELL: Just basically what the coaches drew up, one of our plays where I think it was Malik came up and set a screen. I saw he gave me an angle to the rim and I took it and happy to finish.

Q. Just building off that question to Malik, what has it meant down the stretch to have Jeremy Hemsley has been a scorer, Trey Kell has been a scorer for you, he's given you another option lately, what's that meant to your team in spreading out that responsibility?
HEAD COACH STEVE FISHER: It gives us an offense that can now look you in the eye and say, We're going to score the ball on you. We've got another offensive weapon who can make an open shot. He's big enough to go inside and score.

Malik's growth has occurred in practice. It's gotten better in practice. He's practiced harder. He's made it more important and he's practiced tougher. And you don't always get rewarded immediately. But he's been rewarded for a job well done on the practice floor, when nobody is watching. And it translates into confidence and confidence from me to keep him in there and success. He's good. He's a good player.

Q. Just a small follow-up, when he hits 3's, he hit one open in the first half, one open in the second half. At his size to be to an opposing team and try to consider defending a guy that big that can shoot out there, how tough of an assignment is that for other teams?
HEAD COACH STEVE FISHER: It makes you harder to guard. The team we played tonight, Utah State, is a hard team to guard. Lew Evans, we had a hard time guarding him. He scored 20-something at their place. He can make a three. And when you guard him, when you have a big guy coming out on you, he shot fakes you, goes to the rim and gets to the free throw line. It adds to what you can do. It extends the defense, it gives your perimeter people a chance to dribble drive and attack off the bounce because they're fearful of a three-point shooter, whether it be Malik for us or Lew Evans for Utah State.

I said all along, our offense has gotten better. We're getting guys shots that we want them to take, right spot, right time. And we're making a few more of them now. And it makes all the difference in the world. You have to know who you are. Malik is a scorer, he can score the ball.

Q. Do you notice any difference when the crowd is kind of seems like everybody is against the Aztecs and it seems like they relish that role? Do you notice that at all?
HEAD COACH STEVE FISHER: You know, you can talk young guys into saying things and agreeing with you, but it's natural. Who would the opponents that we'll play in the next game, whether it be Nevada or New Mexico, who would they want to win? They're going to cheer for the underdog, at least statistically the underdog. That's human nature. I would, too. If I were sitting there as a neutral, I'd cheer like crazy for Utah State. I don't think that makes you a villain in the eyes of anyone. I think that's just basketball, and that's what makes it exciting at this time of year.

I would say this, at 12:05 on opening tip until second half we were the crowd. We were the crowd. San Diego State fans traveled here en masse and made it like a home game for us. Now as it got closer to game 2 now you get those next two sets of fans coming in, and they're running in saying, Holy cow, it's close, let's cheer for the team that's not supposed to win. So I think that's more the product of what you saw out there today.

Q. Why do you think Utah State was so successful on the glass today?
HEAD COACH STEVE FISHER: Utah State's good. They're good. They can attack off the bounce, and when you do that someone has to help. Then you rotate over and then they run in and get it. I think we both had -- they had 12 offensive rebounds, we had 13. They had 13 when we played them in Viejas in the second game.

I'm smart enough to know that this is a very well-coached team that desperately wanted to play. They wanted to play. We played them two years ago here and they were ready to go home. Today they said, We're going to win this tournament, after they had beat Wyoming the way they did.

I've got great respect with Utah State and what Tim has done with that program and kept them all on point, all excited, all energized. They've lost some tough, close, hard-fought games. And they didn't hang their head. They said, We're going to win, we're going to find a way to win. That's how they play. That's how we play, too.

Q. What did the officials tell you on Zylan's call? Tony came over to us and said, We can change it. But what did he tell you?
HEAD COACH STEVE FISHER: Well, he didn't say anything other than, you know -- he did say something, but I won't repeat what he said.

I didn't get a full view of it. I thought it was a play on play. They thought there was some type of contact that Zylan had that merited a foul on him. And when they went back to look at it they said, no, that it wasn't a foul.

So point of possession, blew the whistle, we had the ball, we get the ball. That's what afterwards they told me.

Q. Can you talk about possibly meeting New Mexico for a third time, about beating a team three times in a row, if that happens, if you get to meet them again?
HEAD COACH STEVE FISHER: We just beat a team for the third time. We beat them by 3 at their place in a game just like this. We won 70-67. We had a little more comfort at our place with the end score. But we've been there, done that.

We would be playing New Mexico for a third time or Nevada for a second time. And whoever we play, it's going to be a game, in all probability like today, close, hard fought, make a play, get a little bit lucky and find a way to win.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about the presidents in the Mountain West reducing the conference tournament to 8 teams. Utah State wouldn't have been in it this year. Is this proof how tough they played you that you need to have all 11 teams here?
HEAD COACH STEVE FISHER: I'm hopeful that we'll find a way to get all 11 here in the tournament. This is what every coach in the league wants. And we were unanimous on the significance of that. I was on the committee that investigated, can we move, should we move from Thomas & Mack to the MGM Garden. And one of the things I said is, We will not give up bringing all 11 teams in order to go to the Garden. Our No. 1 priority is for all the teams to be able to go.

And I'm hoping that will happen. It hasn't happened yet. I appreciate the fact that the presidents are taking another look at it and maybe getting a few more bits of information that might sway it in our direction.

I had one comment that I wanted to make. I wanted to make it when the players were here, and I didn't, didn't want to interrupt. Sometimes you have to make plays to win that don't show up on the scoreboard. And Winston Shepard is our leader. He wants to be the leader. He's the leader of our team. He had one awful offensive play late in the game. We're two points behind. He dribbled the ball, they took it from him, and Rector is going down on Trey. And Moore is gone, it's a two on one. And Winston fought like crazy, got back in the play, Trey bought him some time, we get a turnover or a wild shot and we come down and get a basket or a three point -- huge piece in the game.

And three years ago Winston would have stopped and looked at the ref and not run the floor. That's growth. That's being a senior. That's being the leader of the team. And you have to have that. And when it's done by your seniors it's usually more significant. So I'm very proud of all of them, but what Winston did today in certain situations is a reflection on his growth as a young man and as a player.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297