SAN DIEGO — The Aztecs are in uncharted territory in the NCAA Tournament, and loving every minute of it thanks to their fans.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s kind of awesome, just being outside people are coming up to you, just supporting us, so we need all the support we can have and we’re going to try to win this thing for them,” Aztecs guard Lamont Butler said.
San Diego State’s men’s basketball team is using the pressure from outside sources as fuel to win their Final Four matchup against Florida Atlantic University.
“Just to have it be bigger than yourself, for the team, for the city of San Diego, for San Diego State, just knowing that adds a little extra motivation for us,” Aztecs guard Darrion Trammell said.
That motivation has given them tunnel vision, hyper-focused on their next opponent, but still shocked to have come this far.
“Locked in on what we have in front of us right now. We really have a shot to win this thing. I think it’s going to take a little bit for it to set in to understand what we’re really doing,” Trammell said.
It is not just the players who are finding it hard to smell the roses. Head coach Brian Dutcher is the second oldest coach to make his Final Four debut in 25 years. The 63-year-old reflected on his journey.
“I remember back in 88-89 my dad told me, he was a long-time coach, Brian, really great coach never go one time in their career. Embrace the moment and enjoy every minute of it. And so here we go again, and I’m embracing every moment of it,” Dutcher said.
Florida Atlantic University will be a tough team to beat because of how similar they are, according to the Aztecs. Both teams have depth off the bench and share a similar mentality.
“They haven’t lost much this year, most wins in school history and they play very hard, they kind of play similar to us with the chip on the shoulder they have,” Butler said.
Dutcher says he’s proud to see the program get to this point. Both he and former Aztecs head coach Steve Fisher envisioned this moment.
“A lot of people have them, very few times do you get to recognize a vision. Now we have to go out and finish a job,” Dutcher said.