Aztecs Ready to Run

SDSU can beat one of the nation's top programs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Tim Shelton #10 of the San Diego State Aztecs warms up prior to playing against the Connecticut Huskies during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in Anaheim, California.

    San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher knows what he has in his Aztecs. He also knows the city knows what he has.

    "We have got the whole community upside down excited about our team," Fisher said, "and it's fun."

    Aztecs Ready To Believe

    [DGO] Aztecs Ready To Believe
    San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher knows what he has in his Aztecs. (Published Thursday, Mar 24, 2011)

    Thursday's game -- tipoff from Anaheim is at 4:15 p.m. -- could be where the Aztecs announce their presence with authority. UConn is one of the nation's blue-blood programs, winners of two national titles in 11 years. They play in the Big East, universally regarded as the nation's best, toughest, most physical conference.

    The Aztecs say, so what?

    "I think it's a mind set," said Aztecs guard James Rahon. "We believe we should be here.  We believe we can compete with anybody in the country.  It's just a matter of going out and doing it."

    The Huskies roll out a pair of 7-footers, intimidating for any front line. But the Aztecs have already found a chink in their massive armor.

    "They start off big, but they always switch to smalls," said guard Jamaal Franklin. "So, our thing to do is narrow people down, make them run, make the bigs tired, and make sure they don't outmuscle us, make sure we use our athletic ability and speed on them."

    Even San Diego State's resident big man, 6-foot-11 Brian Carlwell, is on the "make the other team suck wind" bandwagon.

    "We're used to pressing all game," Carlwell said. "Coming out of the press, we get to run, so I think pressing gives us an added advantage because of the fact we like to do it. Getting the ball back on a steal off the press, we get excited about, so we always run when we're excited."

    The Huskies claim they can run the floor with anyone, and if they have a weakness, it's self-inflicted.

    "I think our weakness is we beat ourselves sometimes," said Huskies forward Roscoe Smith. "Sometimes we don't come to play, whether it be me, or a single player, or us as a team. I feel, when we don't bring effort, we're not the same team."

    Fisher is fond of saying "Don't make me coach effort." He pretty much never has to. So, since it stands to reason every team has a weakness, what's the Aztecs' kryponite?

    "I'm not going to say it," Carlwell said. "You've gotta find out."

    If the Aztecs keep it a secret like Clark Kent, they'll be moving on to the Elite 8.