San Diego State was coming after losing seasons in 13 of the previous 14 years. But it also had a recently opened campus area. Fischer recognized the potential, leading the Aztecs to the NCAA Tournament in his third season and winning 26 games in 2009, a school record at the time. Dutcher’s recruiting magic continued with Kawhi Leonard, among others. Dacher, who was named head coach in-waiting in 2011, was Fischer’s assistant for 27 seasons before taking over the program in April 2017. He led them to a 20-win season in each of their first four years, including 30-2. Mark and No.6 National Ranking in 2019-20. But that season’s sky-high hopes were shattered when the NCAA tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I was looking forward to something I helped create,” Dutcher, 62, explained his decision to decline other opportunities. “And living here wasn’t difficult. Obviously, it’s a destination city. People save up all year to spend a week here, and I get to live here. My family lives here.”
Her office is lined with photos of herself with Howard, from what is now 48 days in Michigan, as well as photos of her now-adult daughters – Erin and Liza – with Howard when they were younger. The intimacy between families is real. The roots have deepened over the years.
Howard, who was raised by his grandmother in Chicago, still remembers Dutcher, Fisher, and another assistant, Mike Boyd, who ate his grandmother’s “famous greens” during a visit home.
“It was known as a personal dish in the Howard household,” said Howard, whose grandmother died suddenly of a heart attack when she announced she would be attending Michigan in November 1990.
Dutcher remembers that he thought Howard was “so important to the program that I kept seeing him every day in July. Wherever he was, I was there. So if he wasn’t at camp or an event and at home in the park If I had, I would go to the park to play him. Just to be with him, because I thought he was vital to our success at Michigan. Now, having him as head coach at the University of Michigan is the greatest thing in the world Is. “