Fisher "optimistic" about Tapley and Stephens

#23/21 San Diego State (4-1) will take on nr/24 UCLA (4-2) Saturday night at the Honda Center but will the Aztecs be at full strength...

#23/21 San Diego State (4-1) will take on nr/24 UCLA (4-2) Saturday night at the Honda Center but will the Aztecs be at full strength for the Southern California showdown.

Both senior guard Chase Tapley (knee) and forward Deshawn Stephens (hip pointer) are dealing with injuries that could hold them out of the game against the Bruins.

"I've got guarded optimism on both of them," SDSU head coach Steve Fisher explained after Tuesday's practice. "Chase [Tapley] did a little light shooting today. We'll just take it day by day with him."

"DeShawn [Stephens] is still pretty sore. I believe DeSahwn when he says that he's going to play. I don't think he'll be 100% but I think DeShawn will play one way or another or at least try to play."

The Aztecs will track the development of Tapley throughout the week, who hurt his knee in practice last week, and re-evaluate so he's listed as day-to-day. He was held out in the win versus USC.

While Stephens hurt his right hip just minutes into the USC game when he felt a sharp pain after he attempted to box out 7-footer Dwayne Dedmon. Stephens returned to the game but couldn't continue, playing a total of five minutes.

He has been making progress since Sunday.

"It's doing pretty good," Stephens explained of his injury after practice. "I'm doing therapy with our trainer Tom so it's feeling pretty good."

"Huge progress from what it was on Sunday. It was painful and something I had to deal with and get used to I guess."

What's Stephens' status for UCLA?

"I should be able to go," Stephens said. "There's never 100%. We'll know that day."

Bruins Falling Apart

The hype surrounding UCLA before the season began was unbelievable.

Final four or bust.

Bruins were preseason ranked #13 after bringing in the #2 recruiting class that included Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson.

How things change so quickly.

It was Sunday afternoon that UCLA junior guard Tyler Lamb decided to transfer from the program due to "playing time."

The Bruins followed it up that night by losing to Cal Poly, low to mid level Big West team, 70-68 at home.

UCLA head coach Ben Howland after the embarrassing loss referred to his team as "unathletic," creating more controversy around a program built for success.

It was then Wednesday afternoon that junior big man Josh Smith joined Lamb by transferring from the program.

"I have made the decision to leave the program for personal reasons," Smith said in the UCLA press release. "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at UCLA and am grateful for the opportunity that has been presented to me here."

Will the Bruins continue this snowball effect come Wednesday night against Cal State Northridge and Saturday versus the Aztecs.

Wooden Relationship

The game between San Diego State and UCLA will be more than just a game but a day to remember Coach John R. Wooden.

"John Wooden is the greatest coach in the history of basketball at any level," Fisher explained. "I was privileged to get to know him. I got to know him as a young coach, got to know him when I had great success, got to know him when I had struggles."

"He [Wooden] was more than winning, more than the national championships. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word… I had the benefit to sit with him before he passed. I have great love and respect for John Wooden."

Fisher shared quickly about one of the most memorable stories he experienced with Coach Wooden.

"When we lost the national championship in 1993 which we took a timeout that we didn't have." Fisher described. "Chris Webber took it. The following Friday we flew to LA. Coach Wooden took Chris [Webber] who didn't want to make the trip and said coach can I talk to Chris for five minutes. He took him in a back room and when Chris Webber came out he made the comment, ‘this was the greatest experience I've had to date, having that opportunity.'"

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