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The San Diego State-Michigan game offers a flashback to the five fabulous days

San Diego State had just lost seasons in 13 of the previous 14 years. But there was also a recently opened arena on campus. Fisher identified the potential, led the Aztecs to the NCAA tournament in his third season, and won 26 games, a school record at the time, in 2009. Dutcher’s recruiting magic continued with, between others, Kawhi Leonard. Dutcher, who was named the standby head coach in 2011, was Fisher’s assistant for 27 seasons before returning to the program in April 2017. He led them to 20 winning seasons in each of his first four. years, including a 30-2 mark and No. 6 in the national ranking in 2019-20. But this season’s sky-high hopes were shattered when the NCAA tournament was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was expecting something that I helped build,” said Dutcher, 62, explaining his decision to turn down other opportunities. “And it wasn’t difficult to stay here. Obviously, it is a city of destination. People save all year round to spend a week here, and I can live here. My family can live here.

In his office are framed photos of himself with Howard, now 48, from Michigan’s glory days, as well as photos of his now adult daughters – Erin and Liza – with Howard when they were little. The affinity between families is real. The years have deepened the roots.

Howard, raised in Chicago by his grandmother, still remembers Dutcher, Fisher and another assistant, Mike Boyd, eating his grandmother’s “famous green vegetables” during a home visit.

“It was very well known as a personal dish in the Howard House,” said Howard, whose grandmother died suddenly of a heart attack hours after announcing he would be traveling to Michigan in November 1990.

Dutcher remembers thinking Howard “was so important to the show that I spent every July watching it.” Wherever he was, I was. So if he wasn’t at a camp or event and he was just home at the park, I would go to the park to watch him play. Just to be with him, because I felt he was so important to our success in Michigan. Now having him as a head coach at the University of Michigan is just the best thing in the world. “

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