Successful road trip; Shooting woes continue

DeShawn Stephens and Skylar Spencer

San Diego State men's basketball head coach Steve Fisher gave his own scouting report on how opposing teams can guard the Aztecs...

San Diego State men's basketball head coach Steve Fisher gave his own scouting report on how opposing teams can guard the Aztecs.

"Right now…pack a zone in, make us shoot from the outside," Fisher said. "Or foul us and use your free throw defense to cause us not to make a free throw. I don't think that will last, but to me, that's how I'd play us."

Hard to disagree when SDSU in three games this season has shot 36.8% from the field, 15.3% (9-of-59) from three-point range and 56.1% from the free throw line including shooting 32.2% overall in the 16-point win on the road against Missouri State.

Despite the poor shooting numbers it was still a successful road trip to Springfield, Missouri.

"In our world you measure true success by did you win," Fisher stated. "So we came, we came home and we won. And even though Missouri State boasts about the third youngest team in the country, they had 9,000 people there and it was a tough environment and we found a way to win."

"We've got good shooters that haven't shot well. After a while that wears thin for everybody. We need to make baskets when we have open shots."

Another alarming concern surfaced from the blowout win against MSU, turnovers. SDSU lost possession of the basketball a season-high 17 times with 11 of the cough-ups coming from team leaders Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley.

Aztecs are now giving the ball away 15 times a game.

"At times, we try to do things too fast," Fisher said. "You need to slow down a little bit. And they're not trying to do it for themselves, so I'm not saying it's selfish, but it's trying to do things too fast. We've watched it on tape. We've talked about it. But we've got to do it. I don't know that that leads to the other part, but the turnover part, you can't win with 17 turnovers a game, for sure."

San Diego State will get another shot working on these question marks, as the Aztecs welcome Arkansas Pine-Bluff to Viejas Arena on Wednesday night.

Small Ball

It was during the victory against Missouri State that San Diego State showed a small ball lineup with J.J. O'Brien, listed at 6-foot-7 but looks more like 6-foot-5, playing the center position for the Aztecs.

"We'll play lineups with different looks," Fisher explained. "You might see when we get James Johnson eligible, play two big guys. So I think we have versatility to do different things. Missouri State was small, so we felt when DeShawn [Stephens] got the fourth foul, let's go smaller and see what that looks like, and we were pretty good with it."

Some of that also had to with the lack of experience of freshman Skylar Spencer but the coaching staff has liked what they have seen from the Los Angeles prep star.

"I thought Skylar played really well, had extended minutes," Fisher said. "He had lots of rebounds. I like what Skylar is bringing to the table, and we need to continue to get him 15, 17, 18 minutes a game."

Conference Realignment

The talk of the day at San Diego State's weekly press conference was what's going on with Big East Conference.

And of course Steve Fisher was asked his thoughts about the situation right away.

"If my mom had not been 4'11 and I had been 6'7, I would be still playing in the NBA right now," Fisher joked. "We got enough to worry about with our own team and I'm going to let somebody else talk on the what-ifs for the moment. I'm not trying to be disrespectful, but you could talk till you're blue in the face."

The 14th year SDSU head coach expressed full confidence in the university and the leadership of athletic director Jim Sterk to put the program in the best position possible to succeed.

Fisher was then asked: How does conference affiliation affect recruiting?

"I think what everybody wants to know is who do you play, are you on TV? That's what everybody talks about," Fisher replied. "And a close second to that is how quickly can I play. So what we deal with is no different than anybody else, and with us the people have said, well, if they go to the Big West, it's a ‘bus league' and on and on and on, and we show them who we're playing and who we will play down the road and that's a pretty impressive field. So wherever we are, we'll make it work. We'll structure what we do surrounding the league that we're in."

Simply put if a young man is good enough to play in the NBA, it doesn't matter where you go to college, teams will find you.

Mountain West or Big West, it does not matter for Fisher and company.

Finishing Notes

-Winston Shepard will serve the final game of his three-game suspension vs. Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Wednesday night.

"He's been fine," Fisher said of Shepard handling the suspension. "You know, obviously he would prefer to have made the trip and played. But he called me. I called him. We talked before, during and after our trip, and he was very excited and happy that we won the game."

-Genuine moment in the press conference was when Steve Fisher reiterated numerous times that big man Deshawn Stephens never complains at all.

"I don't complain about anything Coach Fisher says," Stephens said with a smile. "Whatever Coach Fisher says goes."

"He's a fast learner," Fisher replied quickly while laughing. "Even though he's a junior college player, he's a fast learner."

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