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SDSU Basketball Teams Win Mountain West Conference Tournaments


San Diego State basketball teams are headed to the Big Dance. Joining us on Morning Edition is North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris.

DWANE BROWN (Host): San Diego State basketball teams, both the men and women, are heading to the ‘Big Dance’ this week. Joining us on Morning Edition is North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris. Jay, SDSU men and women won and scaled the Mt. West Conference tournaments over the weekend, winning their respective conference titles. You were in Vegas for all the fun. Describe the atmosphere.

JAY PARIS (Sports Columnist, North County Times): Electric and thrilling and exciting. I know San Diego State has taken a lot of lumps over the years through various sports and falling short at times. But, to be there on a day when the San Diego State wins two Mt. West championships was quite a day. And good for the school and good for all those San Diego State fans who made the trek up I-15 to see it.

PAMELA DAVIS (Host): Now, later today the Aztec women find out who they’ll play in the tournament, but we know the 11th seeded men’s team plays Tennessee on Thursday in Providence, Rhode Island. How do they stack up against the Volunteers?

PARIS: It’s going to be an interesting match-up. Tennessee, they’re 15th in the nation and they play that rugged SCC all season. So, it’s going to be quite a task for the San Diego State, especially going back three time zones, but you know, they’re certainly not unbeatable. Although, they’ve knocked off Kansas and Kentucky this year, which is pretty impressive. They’re more of up-tempo attack: like to run, like to press. That kinda goes against what San Diego State does. So, it’s going to see which tempo or which style can win out. But, you know, what I like about San Diego State is they have Steve Fisher there as their coach. This is his 10th NCAA tournament. He’s been to three finals. He won it all in Michigan in ’89, so you know, the kids could have some wide eyes, but for the old coach there, this won’t be his first rodeo that’s for sure.

BROWN: Hey Jay, for the non-sports fan, remind us why we often call this March Madness.

PARIS: It’s the epitome of the American lifestyle. It’s rooting for the underdog. This is the chance when something really “mad” can happen, especially in the early rounds. A David and Goliath match-up, you know, Goliath doesn’t always win. It’s 40 minutes of controlled chaos. When you’re dealing with 18, 19-year-old and 20-year-old kids, anything can happen and often does. That’s really the enduring value of this NCAA tournament is: with football, it’s pretty clear cut who the number one teams are and then basketball, there’s certainly the pecking order. But, if some team gets hot on that given day or a couple officials’ calls, a raucous crowd, those upsets can happen and that’s what makes it so much fun to watch.

BROWN: Let’s talk quickly about San Diego Charger, former-Charger, LaDainian Tomlinson. He signed a deal with the New York Jets. Isn’t that the team that knocked us out of the playoffs?

PARIS: It sounds familiar. It sounds weird saying ex-Charger LaDainian Tomlinson but he had a choice between the Vikings and the Jets and he went with the Jets and their “pound-and-ground” approach. That’s the number one running team from last year and certainly love to stay close to the ground. That’s what LT likes to do is run the ball so he thought his chances there were a lot better than in Minnesota to be productive and maybe get to that Super Bowl. And I think it was interesting as well that he chose the team that employs Marty Schottenheimer’s son, Brian as the offensive coordinator. If you know anything about Brian, his playbook didn’t fall far from the tree. He likes to run the ball just like his dad, Marty. And Marty was clearly LaDainian’s most favorite coach when he was with the Chargers. He’s going to get back to some Marty-ball and it’ll be interesting to see how this turns out with him playing on the big stage in New York.

DAVIS: And quickly, former-Charger nose-tackle Jamal Williams has signed with the Broncos. What do you make of him signing with the Charger’s arch-rival?

PARIS: Yea, they thought they were maybe going to bring him back at a reduced rate, they let him go, hoping he could return at not $5 or 6 million, but the Broncos swooped him up. It’s one thing to lose a guy, but it’s another thing to lose a Pro-Bowler and you’re going to have to play him twice a year as the Chargers will against the Broncos. But for Jamal, I don’t know gas is left in that tank, but hopefully for his sake, he at least can get one more year out of it.

DAVIS: North County Times Sports Columnist Jay Paris. Jay, thanks for joining us this morning.

PARIS: Alrighty, cheers.

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