SDSU Men's Basketball News Conference Quotes

Feb. 14, 2012

Watch COACH FISHER AND DESHAWN STEPHENS

SAN DIEGO -

San Diego State Head Coach Steve Fisher

Opening Statement:

"It's obvious that the game we have on Wednesday is a huge game for both San Diego State and New Mexico. A three-way tie at the top. Three really good teams. New Mexico, probably no argument, (is) playing better than anybody right now. Look at their last five scores, 42-point win, 30-some odd point win, 20-some odd point win. The 10-point win against Wyoming is the closest anybody has come to them since they lost back-to-back, (against) us and Vegas. It's a big game. We're playing a very good team and we understand that. We have them at home, coming off of a tough loss for us at Vegas. I know we will be ready, as will the Lobos and we will appreciate the fact that we'll be in the friendly confines with our crowd cheering for us tomorrow."

On how New Mexico will come into the game tomorrow:

"Obviously, they are anxious to prove that they are better than we are. They were picked No. 1 in the league, they had a wonderful non-conference season and for whatever reason, they weren't rated. They're still not rated. They deserve to be rated. I can imagine what they're saying in their locker room, saying `hey, we're better than they are. They're rated and we're not.' We'll get a focused New Mexico team starting with (head coach) Steve Alford right through every player on their team, but that's what you expect. I do believe that we will be exactly the same way. I saw one little quote from (A.J.) Hardeman, their big senior center. When they asked him about the game, and not unlike the football player, `can't wait' is what he said in terms of playing the game. It will be a highly competitive, very intense, hard fought basketball game."

On how a team feels when they're searching for a marquee win:

"There are all sorts of things that enter in. New Mexico is used to winning. If you look at what Alford has done since they've been there, they've been one of the better teams in this league. I don't know whether that's the driving force because they have been there, maybe not this year. But this is a game that you turn on the TV when they start talking about big conference games and this is another big conference game for both of us, for both teams. If we get a win, now UNLV (on) Saturday goes to New Mexico. It's a huge game for both teams."

On the team moving on to their next game after a tough loss:

"It could be the fact that we're playing a team that our players know. They know they were picked No. 1 coming into the season. They realize that they've got, I believe, four starters from last year's team and 10 guys that are playing double-digit minutes with the depth that they have. We know that we're going to have to play, and yet I do think one of the nicest things about this year's team with us, is we have been prepared mentally. They have prepared themselves to play regardless. We haven't always played perfectly, but it hasn't been from lack of preparation or looking ahead or dwelling on what just happened. That's the reason we've been as successful as we've had, is they've done a nice job of moving on into that next game."

On making sure the team doesn't look ahead at NCAA Tournament seeding:

"To date, I have never mentioned that piece of the equation to our team. They'll come a time as we move a little closer to the end of the season that you'll talk about where we are and what we could do if we were to get another win. I'm not sure what they talk about amongst themselves about that, I really don't know. As our staff, we have not talked about that at all. We've said, `we must get ready to win this next one.' Obviously we want to win the conference. And if you win our league, the way our league is viewed right now, that's going to elevate everything that others say about you. I don't think it's become an issue and I'm pretty perceptive to what's going on."

On DeShawn Stephens:

"His game has evolved in fashion where you say, `close your eyes and think of him a year from now and if you were wishing way back, boy wouldn't it be nice to have him for four years.' But it's great to have him and I think you see a little bit of why we're good and what he brings. He's always ready, never complains. You can chew on him as hard as you want and he looks you in the eye. Whether you're right or wrong with what you're saying in his mind, he makes you feel you're right. He nods and that's how he's tried to play. He's made great strides for us and we're going to need him, not only against New Mexico, but as we move through the season. He's a great representative of San Diego State and, in particular, our basketball program."

On Tony Gwynn's situation:

"Obviously our thoughts, as all of San Diego, are with Tony and Alicia and their family. We pray that what they're doing will be successful and he'll be back in the dugout doing what he does best. (Cancer) doesn't discriminate. It jumps at everybody. I had prostate cancer and have been a bit of a spokesperson for that. Getting screening, knowing your score and that sort of thing. Sometimes you can do everything and still be one that has to deal with it. I'm like everybody, you pray that he'll be okay."

On whether he and Tony have discussed cancer together before:

"No, when I had my issue, he would ask, `how you doing, how you feeling?' I've done the same with him, but to sit and talk about it, no."

Junior Forward DeShawn Stephens

On if the team understands how pivotal this game against New Mexico is:

"Definitely. I honestly think we take every game as important as this next one is. We're just looking forward to playing as hard as we normally play and we're not trying to come up short this time."

On whether conference games have a different feel to them:

"It has more intensity, faster pace, it's definitely a different feeling from the regular season games. You can feel it from the crowd, to the coaches, to the players to just the feel of the game entirely."

On how much being familiar with conference opponents helps:

"In conference play, you have more film and teams pretty much know what you're going to run already. It just depends on execution and things like that."

On how much he has learned from the last meeting against New Mexico:

"They're good, the team is good. The post presence is definitely a problem, but our coaches prepare us properly and let us know what we need to do and what needs to be done. We just work hard at executing what we're supposed to do."

On how much he feels he has grown as a player:

"There's definitely things I need to learn or need to pick up on, but I think I'm at a comfortable state and understand what's going on."

On what he thinks New Mexico will do coming in after losing the last meeting:

"I think they think that they're supposed to come win, so they're going to come play to win. We just have to be ready."

On what allows this team to never panic when in difficult situations:

We just have a lot of heart. We play as hard as we can every minute of the game. No matter what the score is, we just keep playing hard."