BASKETBALL

College basketball: Aztecs still 'rolling,' led by veterans Franklin, Tapley

2012-12-25T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:23:18Z College basketball: Aztecs still 'rolling,' led by veterans Franklin, TapleyBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 25, 2012 12:00 am  • 

HONOLULU - As much as San Diego State fans have fallen in love with Aztec basketball, they also maintain a laid-back perspective on things.

It is San Diego, after all.

So after the Aztecs lost NBA first-rounder Kawhi Leonard and three other starters from a team that won a school-record 34 games and reached the NCAA Sweet 16 two seasons ago, the pressure wasn't exactly on for an encore.

"We lost all those guys and, in what is atypical of most places, they gave us a pass before the season started," SDSU coach Steve Fisher said. "It was, 'We know we'll be just OK this year, but we'll be really good next year.' Then all of a sudden, we won 26 games last year. We were better than OK."

The Aztecs went 26-8 and earned a share of the Mountain West Conference title, again reaching the NCAA tournament, and not because they simply plugged in replacements for all the talent they had lost.

They did it because Fisher has elevated the program to where it can peel off some talent and still be successful, developing veteran guards such as Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley into standouts, and because the Aztecs may have had some mental carry-over from that 2010-11 season.

San Diego State won 10 of 13 games that were in doubt in the final minute last season, while Franklin turned into the Mountain West's player of the year.

The No. 17 Aztecs kept it going this season by winning 11 straight games heading into the Diamond Head Classic final against No. 3 Arizona tonight.

"Winning allows you to believe you're going to win when you come out again, no matter who you are," Fisher said. "Guys who did not play prime-time roles two years ago like Jamaal Franklin became one of the best players in the country. Chase Tapley, who's a four-year starter now, just kind of slides along under the radar and wins for you."

Franklin, a junior, is averaging 17.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists while Tapley is averaging 15.5 points and has made 21 of his last 37 three-pointers.

The Aztecs start two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore, in what's an unusual mix of experience for today's elite teams.

"We know what we can do," Tapley said. "We all played with each other last year, then had some core guys back, some freshmen and some transfers cleared to play, and we kept it rolling."

Not surprisingly, their fans responded.

The Aztecs once again have sold out all six of their home games so far this season in 12,414-seat Viejas Arena. That's a trend that Tapley could hardly imagine as a freshman in 2009-10, when SDSU averaged just 7,227 fans per game.

"There's a pride. We think about it all the time," Tapley said. "San Diego State was an unknown. But it's because of our coaching staff.

"It's unbelievable. San Diego State basketball is almost bigger than the Chargers. It's been a great experience to see the program change."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 12 0 0 1.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 10 0 0 1.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 10 1 0 0.909
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 8 4 0 0.667
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 8 3 0 0.727
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 8 2 0 0.800
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 7 3 0 0.700
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 7 3 0 0.700
USC 0 0 0 0.000 7 4 0 0.636
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 6 5 0 0.545
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 6 3 0 0.667
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 5 6 0 0.455

AP Top 25


Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Oregon State at
Quinnipiac
12/21 52-60
USC at
Boston College
12/21 75-71
San Jose State at
Washington State
12/21 53-82
DePaul at
Colorado
12/22 68-82
UC-Santa Barbara at
Oregon
12/22 68-82
Wisconsin at
California
12/22 68-82
Tulane at
Washington
12/22 9:00 pm
Detroit at
Arizona State
12/23 1:00 pm
Stanford at
Texas
12/23 5:00 pm
South Dakota State at
Utah
12/23 7:00 pm
Arizona at
UNLV
12/23 8:00 pm
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