Osprey, Mono Lake © Robert Sommers 2023

Monday, March 7, 2016

Go Aztecs

Kent and I went to the Aztec basketball game Saturday, the last home game of the season. The Aztecs rolled UNLV by 36, and only days before they had beat perennial nemesis New Mexico by 27.

At 23 and 8 at this juncture that makes the eleventh straight 20 game + win season. Their third straight title.

The Aztecs are coached by a guy that I think is the best coach in the entire country, Steve Fisher. His players are always unselfish and they always play defense, exceedingly well, rated one or two in the nation at present.

Fisher has a career win rate of .666. He has five conference championships, four tournament championships, fifteen NCAA appearances, three final fours and one NCAA championship in his 26 years.

I look at this guy like Wooden, without the rolled up program. 547 and 247 all time. And he has quietly crafted a basketball powerhouse, albeit one that has not received the national attention that it deserves.

The Aztecs won the Mountain West by 3 games this year. After a shaky start with a young team, they ended up 16 and 2 in conference. Tough year but they beat Cal. And for the second year in a row, not one player was named to the all conference team by the media. They get no respect, even after waxing the conference yet again.

I can not wait until they can get into a decent conference. The Mountain West is a joke. The RPI is dreadful and many of the programs are garbage. They screw the schools too. Tournament games are played at Thomas and Mack, UNLV's home court, a travesty. Television is practically nonexistent and San Diego State is treated like crap by the conference every chance they get. We went to a Football boosters event before the game and Coach Rocky Long mentioned that the football and basketball programs combined have the third highest winning percentage in the country the last five years. Aztecs have it going on. Bring on the Pac 12!

By virtue of winning the conference, the Aztecs get a first round bye and will face the winner of Wyoming and Utah State Wednesday night. Experts think that they pretty much have to win it all to get a shot into the NCAA tourney, with the conference's intrinsic weakness and a heavy east coast bias. Here's hoping that they do.

Win or lose, this team is exciting. Cheatham is a raw talent with tremendous upside. Kell has made strides I thought unimaginable. Hemsley has a huge basketball i.q. and provides a lot of stability. Pope is starting to play the way he was initially advertised. They just need a few more bigs to replace the departing Spencer and Chol. Looking forward to a team jelling at the right time. This might prove to be an exciting March. If they get in, don't think too many teams will relish the prospect of facing them. A team with nothing to lose and a chip on their shoulder.

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