Fisher must find way to jam BYU’s Jimmer

by Edward Lewis

File Photo
File Photo

San Diego State men’s basketball head coach Steve Fisher was tired of it.

Over and over and over again, people asked him, “Who’s going to guard BYU superstar Jimmer Fredette tonight in the Marriott Center?”

He had finally had enough of the question. So much so, he decided to get cute with the inquisitive media pestering him.

“Pull out your pen,” Fisher said to the questioners. “Use a napkin or a piece of paper, give me your suggestions, and at tip-off we’ll have a decision made.”

It’s partly frustrating to the veteran head coach because it’s basically the only question media members can come up with during BYU week. But it’s also frustrating to Fisher because he just flat out doesn’t know the answer.

“Nobody nationally has been able to stop him,” Fisher said of Fredette. “And we’ve had trouble stopping him.”
There’s no magic zone defense or supernatural man defense that can put Fredette down. It’s strange to most basketball pundits too because Fredette redefines the typical best-basketball-player-in-the-country stereotype.

Fredette is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 195 pounds. He’s not overtly big, strong, physical or athletic. He doesn’t have the soaring dunks or the killer crossover or the big-name school across his chest. He just has little-brother looks and a killer 3-point shot.

But according to D.J. Gay, it’s his intangibles that make him such a filthy basketball player.

“His knowing that he can get a shot off at will and his ability to knock down hard shots makes him a tough guard,” the senior guard said. “When somebody has confidence like that and just knows or believes that every shot he takes is going in, and he has the freedom to do so, that makes somebody a dangerous guard.”

Fredette leads the NCAA Division I world in scoring, averaging 26.7 points per game. He’s posted two 40-plus-point games in his last three outings and has topped 30 or more points in six games this season. His lowest scoring game came against Fresno Pacific, when he played just 22 minutes yet still managed to drop 13 points in a 36-point blowout.

But as good as he’s been against the nation, he’s been an Aztec killer. In his career against SDSU, Fredette is 6-2 and has never lost to an Aztec team in Provo, Utah.

“He’s unflappable,” Fisher said of Fredette. “People cannot appreciate how good he is. He’s lightning-quick with the ball; he can create his own shots, he’s got a tremendously high basketball IQ, and he never loses his focus or composure.”

If SDSU was ever going to knock off Fredette and the Cougars in the Marriott Center, this has to be the year. The Aztecs climbed up to No. 4 in both major college basketball polls on Monday and know if they can beat No. 9 BYU in Provo, a No. 1 ranking might not be farfetched.

“I think this game is either going to be an `I told you so’ or a `Wow, they really are that good,’” Gay said. “That’s what this game is going to come down to.”

AT A GLANCE:

When: 7 p.m., PT

Where: Provo, Utah

Why to watch: It’s a legitimate Top 10 matchup in the Mountain West Conference.