Steve Fisher retired from San Diego State this past year. How will you remember the Steve Fisher era? Will you remember him as a good coach, a great coach, a roller out of basketballs and adult supervision? I think you’re obviously always going to go right to the Fab Five, right? Ask Coach Cal and I’m gonna talk about Calipari soon. It’s not easy to take all of that talent and mesh it together and make it fit and allow them to win at the levels they won especially as freshman and sophomores. Sure there’s going to be some unfinished business about not winning the Big Ten title or not winning the NCAA title. I think his time at Michigan and the consistency in which he had when he was there starting out with being on the back end of the 88-89 national championship season and then into the Fab Five. So I think even just those years at Michigan always made me feel like he was a really good coach. But then almost what’s impressive is what he did at San Diego State. In his first year, he goes 5-23 and 0-14 in the league. I’m surprised he actually came back for year two after all the thing he had done at Michigan. Really good run, you know, some Sweet 16’s, handful of NCAA tournaments. So I think that I’ll always think of Steve Fisher as a really good basketball coach.
I listened to a couple interviews with him the other day. He was on Rome’s podcast as a west coast guy. He talks about playing in front of a recorded attendance of 1100. He says we played in front of 750 people and my wife had to tell me to keep my voice down because she could hear everything I was saying to my players in the arena. That arena holds 12,400 people. He goes by the end of we were selling out every single game, students would camp out for some of the big games that we had against different opponents, etc. which he talks about the BYU game with Jimmer Fredette and kids camped out for four or five days. Most people I don’t think they even realize San Diego State even had a program before he got there. You can make an argument for stretches they might have been the best program on the west coast in given years which is a hell of a statement and testament to him. The only other part I’d say is the stuff that happened to M they deserved to get the punishment they got and I don’t argue for that. The fact that he wasn’t allowed to stay there and was removed I think changed the plate tectonics certainly in the state for the next 20 years. M goes wandering into the wilderness for a long time and has recently come out of it. In the meantime, the Michigan State Spartans become a national power and potentially maybe a new national blue blood long term. We’ll see how that goes. But that certainly set the program on its ear for a while. Again, M deserved what it got. I think he would have done some good things there that he proved could do at San Diego State. So I’m happy for Fish at the end of the day. I think he gets painted too much with a brush that he just rolled the balls out for those guys and I don’t really think that’s the case. Anyway, happy trails Coach Fish.
From probably the original one and done coach to the modern day one and done, to two and done to one and done coach, Coach Calipari:
The 30 for 30 was interesting. Those are just so well done. Every time a new one is coming out I can’t wait to watch. I even watch the ones on topics that I’m not super interested in. But I thought the 30 for 30 was great. It was ironic that it came out the same day as the Miles Bridges decision. What I love about him is he’s real. He is who is he. He’s not going to apologize for it. I thought the documentary painted him in a more positive light than maybe I expected. What I do know about him is he’s a great coach of effort; he’s a great recruiter. When he got hired that day at Kentucky he said I’m here because I recruit the best of the best. So he knows it. It’s really not easy to bring those all of those guys who think that they’re the best and get them to defend and play hard and smart and he does. If you watch that 30 for 30, the expectations and accountability are on a different planet than Steve Alford. If you take a bad shot, he is screaming. If you don’t guard, he is screaming. Most kids, sometimes, don’t want that. Maybe they’re not sure or they want it deep down. Derrick Rose had a great comment and said yeah I didn’t know he was crazy. He didn’t tell me was crazy when he recruited me. So some of things about Coach Cal I really appreciate who he is. The other thing is guys like Coach Izzo and other coaches really speak highly of him, which means a lot to me too. They kind of go out of their way, which is meaningful.
A couple of things that rubbed me the wrong way were the NBA draft comment when he said this was the biggest day in history for Kentucky’s program. I get why he said it but that’s the reason I wouldn’t want him coaching at my school. Why do the two have to be different? Why can’t you win try to win national championships and put guys in the NBA? I want a guy that says winning national championships is the paramount for me at this school. Building relationships and getting guys to the next level is something everyone wants to do. So that quote would be the reason I wouldn’t want him coaching my school.
I think at the end of the day, there were two things that were left out of the documentary that bothered me. First, I don’t think at Kentucky he cheats. I’m not even sure if he cheated at UMass if you really look at the Marcus Camby stuff and the agent being at Camby’s home and not on campus and the Derrick Rose SAT test. I don’t know if he cheats or violates NCAA rules, but I think he recruits some questionable character kids who then cheat and do the things that Camby and Rose did which is a 100 percent cheating. I don’t care what Derrick Rose says. So I do think that really wasn’t necessarily addressed as the type of kids he takes which are grey area kids.
My biggest issue is the myth that he puts guys in the NBA. Get real. John Wall goes into the lottery if he goes to Carolina. Anthony Davis is going in the lottery if he goes to Kansas. Boogie Cousins is going in the lottery if he goes to Duke. Derrick Rose is going in the lottery if he goes to Louisville. He’s not doing anything with these kids during there eight month stay that puts them in the NBA but what does do is he’s best at getting those kids to come there. I don’t want to hear he’s best at putting guys in the NBA. Those are NBA ready guys even before the time they step foot into Lexington, he just happens to get more of those than other people. I was bummed that that wasn’t addressed or addressed incorrectly. When you’re running the dribble drive stuff you can create a way where it’s a little bit better for guards to showcase their talent. When he tells guys to throw the ball into the post but he doesn’t run anything for bigs. Anthony Davis, Boogie Cousins and Bam Adebayo weren’t getting anything run for them. I could argue that they could have gone somewhere else and displayed their talents better.
Going back to the accountability and intensity, when you saw him on the Nets sideline, and you saw Sam Cassell say I’m not diving for that loose ball in the first quarter that made me think of how I really feel how coaching in the NBA would have been tough for Tom Izzo. When you demand those things, you have accountability and expectations for grown men, I think back to the Izzo and Cavs and Hawks flirtation. It would have been interesting to see if Coach Izzo would have been able to change because Calipari couldn’t change, and he didn’t last. That’s why some of these guys who are in college should stay there and I’m always glad when they do. It bums me out when they leave. I think we see them do it more often in college football probably less in the last 5-10 years than ever before because the money has become equitable but the more guys stay the better.