Edit ModuleShow Tags

Brian Dutcher Is No Longer SDSU's 'Head Coach in Waiting'

Dutcher is fully prepared to replace Steve Fisher


Published:

Photo by Ernie Anderson

Time for Tip-Off

SDSU opens its 2017-18 men’s basketball season versus UC San Diego on November 2.

Find the full schedule at goaztecs.com.

For Brian Dutcher, reminders are everywhere.

He sits in Steve Fisher’s old office. His San Diego State basketball team will play on Steve Fisher Court at Viejas Arena. If he’s ever selected the Mountain West Conference’s top coach, he’ll be the Steve Fisher Coach of the Year. Plus, Fisher—who retired after last season at age 72—hasn’t disappeared. He has a new office on campus and will be a welcome adviser.

“I know who I’m replacing,” says Dutcher, smiling. “But you know, that doesn’t bother me at all. And I know what standard I’m going to be held to. I’m going to be held to Steve Fisher and the standards he set.”

Over the course of 18 seasons under Fisher, SDSU men’s basketball evolved from punching bag to perennial powerhouse. Aztecs hoops became a must-see event. Fisher took his team to eight NCAA tournaments, twice reached the Sweet 16, won 10 regular-season or Mountain West tournament titles, had 13 20-win seasons, and a 386-209 record.

Now Dutcher, a big man with a quick smile and a booming voice, is eager for his new role as head coach. The man who says he’s happy and optimistic by nature—quipping “The cup’s always half full, even when things are going bad”—contends that he doesn’t feel the weight of fans’ great expectations.

“No, I really don’t,” he says. “The pressure is if you feel you’re not ready.”

To be sure, Dutcher is ready. At 57, the son of a former college head coach has been patient. He came with Fisher to SDSU as assistant head coach for the 1999–2000 season after spending 10 years together at Michigan. In 2011, Dutcher was designated “head coach in waiting.” Over the years he turned down other jobs for this, his “dream job.”

“Once I knew I was going to get the job it was easy to stay,” he says.

The transition should be smooth. Dutcher has had a huge role in SDSU’s success. He’s run practices, developed game plans, called in-game plays, coached rising stars, and had a prime role in recruiting the program’s best talent, including Kawhi Leonard, the best player in Aztecs history. Dutcher says he learned how to be a better listener from Fisher, and how to delegate.

Though Fisher was the face of the program, he once called Dutcher “invaluable.”

“He has been a non-head coach only in name,” Fisher said in 2011, when Dutcher was designated his successor. “Over the years we’ve been here, he’s done everything that a head coach could do, should do, and would do.”

So, the new head coach is no rookie. He’ll just move over one chair on the sideline into Fisher’s spot. He’ll make the daily drive from Rancho Bernardo, just as he has for 18 years. He says the real difference will come on opening night, when he’ll be the man calling the time-outs, managing substitutions, giving the halftime talk, and dealing with referees.

“Those will be the biggest adjustments, the on-floor coaching of the game,” he says. “Everything else other than that, I feel as if I’ve been preparing to do my whole life.”

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

A Q&A with Armand King, on His Book 'Raised In Pimp City'

The founder of nonprofit Paving Great Futures discusses his former life as a pimp and how to end sex trafficking

Glam Squad Targets San Diego’s Low-Income Seniors

Charity project hopes to boost self-confidence by gifting makeovers

Sky of Blue and Sea of Green

Our copy chief reflects on the unique relationship his father had with the afterlife
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Problem With Bright Red Tuna
    Many Americans still think bright red tuna means it’s fresher (it’s not)
  2. First Look: Animae
    Puffer Malarkey Restaurants unveil 5.5 million-dollar pan-Asian concept
  3. Jason Mraz and his Historic Coffee Bean
    The singer and Bird Rock Coffee Roasters unveil the first California-grown Geisha coffee
  4. The Hunt For San Diego's Best Chicken Wings
    How wings became the No. 1 kickoff food in the U.S., and our hunt for the best
  5. How San Diego Are You?
    Take our quiz to see where you land on the newcomer to old-timer spectrum
  6. First Look: Zinqué
    L.A. success story brings the soul of French zincs to Little Italy
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles

October is Rideshare Month

Join the Rideshare 2015 Challenge and get there together
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

’Tis the Season for San Diego Fun

Here's where to play and stay this winter in America’s Finest City

We Chat with the Crew behind Hornblower Cruises and Events Aboard the High Spirits Ship

Sponsored by Hornblower
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags