SDSU set for showdown with Syracuse

by Antonio Morales

There are always big-time non-conference games in college basketball. And then there are big-time non-conference games that happen to be played on the USS Midway Museum flight deck on Veteran’s Day against a Big East power.

Yesterday, San Diego State announced the men’s basketball team will take on Syracuse Friday, Nov. 9 in the “Battle on the Midway.”

It will likely be a matchup of teams that will be ranked in the Top-25 to start the season. Head coach Steve Fisher has been around for his share of significant non-conference games and said this one is high on the list.

“I think that the significance of this game will be where it’s played. Veteran’s Day, in this city, makes it tremendously significant for the program and for everybody,” Fisher said. “We’ve played some great teams and had some great games in our non-conference schedule. The fact we’re playing it here in this city is big time and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

In 2010, SDSU used a non-conference win against Gonzaga to springboard its way to a 34-3 season. An early non-conference win against a team that’s coming off an Elite Eight trip and a Big East regular season championship could have the same type of impact for a team that’s expected to be every bit as good as the 2010-11 Aztecs.

The rest of the non-conference schedule isn’t filled with cupcakes either. SDSU is working out a deal to play UCLA Dec. 1 in the Wooden Classic.

That’s without mentioning SDSU is traveling to Los Angeles to play USC and to Honolulu, Hawaii to participate in the 2012 Diamond Head Classic, which will include teams such as Arizona, Texas Tech, Miami (Fla.) and Ole Miss to name a few.

The scheduling of such difficult out-of-conference games shows what type of belief Fisher has in his team next season.

“We are going to have a very daunting non-conference schedule,” Fisher said. “Hopefully we’ll have a team that will be up to that challenge. Everybody talked about us having a short bench; we’re going to have a long bench this year. We’ll have a lot of players to choose from.”

Fisher said his players were excited for the opportunity to play on such a stage, but told them there’s more to it than just playing a high-caliber team in a great atmosphere.

“The trick is to not only play good people, but to beat good people,” Fisher said. “And we did that last year, we’ve done that in the past. It will be a challenge, we’re playing a really good team, but we’re going to be a really good team.”