Friday, March 28, 2014

2013-14 -- An Aztec Season, an Aztec TEAM to Treasure!

It began with minimal respect. Picked to come in fourth in the Mountain West Conference; nowhere in national rankings. But that’s not what the 2013-14 Aztec Basketball Team believed. They believed that they would WIN!

And win they did! Thirty-one times, against only five losses. Only three teams had fewer  among all the 351 Division I NCAA teams. Won the full-season MW championship with a record of 16-2, which Coach Steve Fisher didn’t believe anyone could do in this highly competitive conference. Went all the way to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament and played impressively until finally losing to the team that may quite possibly win the whole thing.

Having watched 68 seasons of Aztec basketball, seeing way more than 1,000 Aztec games, I’m proud to say I was there for last night’s game, for this entire, memorable season. If I tried to name those who contributed so much to this team’s success, I’d have a page-long list of all our coaches, all players (including those who never played more than a few minutes, or none), trainers and managers. 

The best and most appropriate way is to focus squarely on our Coach of the Year, Steve Fisher. The solid program our Coach has built at San Diego State University in 15 years, with no real foundation to build on, is enough evidence to prove he is the secret to Aztec success. I will leave it at that for now, confident that the best is yet to come!

No, I cannot leave it at that. Despite what I said above, I just can’t stop without singling out our two Super Seniors for their pivotal efforts in this year’s great accomplishments -- Xavier Thames and Josh Davis. Surely they are Aztecs for Life!

I believe that we WILL win!

Xavier Thames, Josh Davis, Steve Fisher (Photos by Ernie Anderson)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What a Game! What a Season!

Don’t know what more can be said about the dramatic victory over New Mexico to clinch the MW championship. If I’d written it as a script for a movie, it would have been rejected as “too melodramatic, too unbelievable.” But it sure did happen! 

If you were there, you not only saw it, you felt it, you were a part of it. If you saw it on TV, or heard Ted Leitner’s call, you probably came close to that same level of involvement. There were 12,414 of us in Viejas that historic night and I’ll guarantee you, 10 years from now, at least another 20,000 will tell people how they remember being there – because they were, in spirit.

But that one great game was just the crowning touch to a wonderful season. Before the season, there was not much respect. Aztecs were picked to come in 4th in the MW. Even loyal fans, dedicated to full-house support, felt this would be a slightly “off year” starting to rebuild for next year. That’s not what the team thought; not what Coach Fisher and his staff believed. This was a TEAM determined to succeed. And they achieved their goal.

Along the way, they played a very close game with highly-ranked Arizona; beat both ranked Creighton and Marquette on a neutral court. And, for good measure, knocked off Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, something no visitor had done in 68 games.

Going into the MW Tournament, our Aztecs are 27-3. No one would have predicted that. Not even Coach. After that, it’s the NCAA Tournament. Naturally, we all want to see them win every game. That’s the goal of this team. But, no matter what, they will stand as one of the very best in Aztec history, with one particular game that is the greatest I have seen in more than 1,000 over 68 seasons. Cheers!

2014 Mountain West Champs! (Photos by Ernie Anderson)