Steve Fisher won 386 games as head coach at San Diego State University. That’s a lot of wins! So many, in fact, that it would be a fool’s errand to attempt to pick only 10 that stand out among the rest.
On the other hand, this is a blog on the internet. So, uh, I made a list.
Anyway, here are the 10 best victories of the Steve Fisher Era. Know that if you disagree with anything here it is because you are dumb and bad and don’t appreciate Steve Fisher at the same level I do.
Anyway, the list:
10. March 19, 2003, NIT First Round: SDSU 67, UC Santa Barbara 62 (2-OT)
Heyyy where are you going?? You just started reading this! How can I justify ranking this dumb NIT game above three wins in the actual NCAA Tournament? Look, you mid-to-late era Aztec fans just don’t understand. This was the 33rd season of Division I basketball at SDSU and the school had NEVER WON A POSTSEASON GAME OF ANY KIND. You youngins don’t know what it’s like to live with that shame. Also this game was cool; Tony Bland forced overtime with a dramatic runner. Plus this game mattered a lot in the trajectory of the program and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. Fun fact: The attendance at Cox Arena was a smidge over 5,000 and I remember everyone was super impressed by the turnout. LOL.
9. December 1, 2012, Wooden Classic: SDSU 78, UCLA 69
It’s probably not entirely accurate to say that the Wooden Classic stopped existing in its previous form after the Aztecs – and a huge SDSU turnout that dominated The Pond – embarrassed the Bruins in their own signature event. But it sure would be fun to perpetuate that myth, wouldn’t it?
8. March 22, 2013, NCAA Tournament First Round: SDSU 70, Oklahoma 55
This wasn’t a particularly close or exciting game, but it was pinnacle of the Jamaal Franklin era and remains SDSU’s only Tournament win over a power conference foe. It also extended Fisher’s ownership of Lon Kruger, which adds an extra “FUCK UNLV” flavor to this. It’s a shame the rest of the tournament was cancelled before the next game could be played. Oh well.
7. March 17, 2011, NCAA Tournament First Round: SDSU 68, Northern Colorado 50
This is basically my UCSB NIT reasoning times a million. Who cares that it was a 15-seed and that the Aztecs didn’t even play all that well? SDSU’s first NCAA Tournament win meant our greatest shame was banished forever.
6. March 8, 2014: SDSU 51, New Mexico 48
Incredible comeback. Incredible atmosphere. Banner. All thanks to a 1-3-1 zone. Just watch the damn video again, OK?
5. March 12, 2011, MWC Tournament Final: SDSU 72, BYU 54
Yes, we were probably getting a 2 seed anyway. Yes, BYU was shorthanded because one of their sinful players had “The Sex” which is bad and yucky. I don’t care. The Aztecs finally kicked the shit out of Jimmer Fredette and the Cougars, and it was both sublime and hilarious. 10/10. Would watch again.
4. Nov. 16, 2010, SDSU 79, Gonzaga 76
For the better part of the 2000s, San Diego State had a nice program, and not much more. I think this is the game where most people realized we were becoming something greater. The Aztecs rolled into Spokane and beat No. 11 Gonzaga at the Kennel. If you want to know here SAN DIEGO STATE BASKETBALL TM began, it’s right here.
3. March 9, 2002, MWC Tournament Final: SDSU 78, UNLV 75
This game is the butterfly wing flap that led to the damn hurricane. If the Aztecs don’t upset Vegas on their home floor (that was rare at one time, honest) and make the tournament in Fisher’s third year, does Fisher get fired after the 2003-05 stagnation? Does Kawhi ever come to SDSU? Are you ever even born?? (you probably are) This game changed everything and put some needed dents in the loser’s mentality that hung over the fan base. This game also features probably the best anecdote of the Fisher era. Legend has it that, in the final seconds, Fisher asked Aerick Sanders if he could miss his second free throw while still hitting the rim. That’s when Randy Holcomb chimed in with, “Yeah Aerick, just shoot it like you normally do!” So great.
2. March 19, 2011, NCAA Tournament Second Round: SDSU 71, Temple 64 (2-OT)
I was living in Chicago at the time and watching this game at a bar with the sound off. Never in my life have I been more stressed out by a sporting event. When Kawhi pulled off the breakaway dunk in the second OT, and it became clear the Aztecs were headed to their first Sweet 16, I felt like I had just been released after 30 years in an IRA prison. Which is fitting because Chicago.
1. January 9, 2014, SDSU 61, Kansas 57
No shit, right? Beating Bill Self’s Jayhawks at the Phog on national network television is rather notable! But here’s something you probably don’t remember about this game: The start was pre-empted by the CBS NFL Postgame Show featuring an IN-STUDIO APPEARANCE BY SUBWAY PITCH MAN JARED FOGEL! I swear to god this happened. It’s basically the most Aztecs thing ever. Even our greatest moments of glory are pre-empted nationally by sandwich-hucking sex offender randos. Or whatever Colonial Athletic Conference game happens to be running long. My god, I’m depressed. I think I’ll just watch this video on repeat for several hours.
Thanks for everything, Coach.