December 8, 2000
Marcelo Correa is a man of double-doubles. He has two countries. He came to the United States from Brazil as a high school senior, but he has now been in the U.S. for six years.
He has two languages.
He speaks his native Portugese and picked up English after arriving at Torrey Pines High School. He even throws in a little Spanish for good measure.
He has two homes.
His family resides in Franca, Brazil, where he returns each summer. His American family, with whom he lived while a attending Torrey Pines, calls Del Mar home.
He has two vocations.
He is rapidly completing work on his degree in public administration with most of the class work now behind him. But he is best known for his role on the San Diego State basketball team.
It has been a long and interesting road for Marcelo Correa. He has packed a variety of experiences into his 23 years. And he hopes to add one more before he takes his graduation walk in the spring - a strong run through the Mountain West Conference.
At the age of 15, Correa left his family in Franca, Brazil, and headed five hours away to Sau Paulo, in part, for the opportunity to play basketball.
"I started playing when I was about 6-years-old," he said. "My father played from the time he was 18 until he was round 43. He is a famous player in Brazil. They call it amateur but he got paid some. He is actually a lawyer."
At the urging of a friend, Correa then chose to spend his senior year of high school at Torrey Pines.
"My friend from Brazil had gone to Torrey Pines before me and then went on to Southern California College. He talked me into it," Correa said. "I really had no preconceived idea of what it would be like, but I did expect it to be a nice place to live."
As it turned out, things worked out for both parties at Torrey Pines. Correa gained the experience of living in a new country and Torrey Pines picked up a fair player on the hardwood. With the newest student starting at center, the Falcons won the CIF title with Correa scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the title game.
The idea of college basketball, however, was still "foreign" to Correa.
"I didn't really know much about college basketball in Brazil because you can't really follow it," he said. "I was midway through my senior year when my coach (John Farrell) mentioned to me that it could happen. When it did, I decided to stay instead of returning home."
Correa's career at San Diego State began slowly. His first year on campus he suffered a knee injury that resulted in a redshirt season after just two games of action. However, since that slow start, he has shown steady improvement. He averaged 4.1 points as a freshman, 6.9 points as a sophomore and 10.2 points as a junior. The improvement has not been lost on head coach Steve Fisher.
"Marcelo is a very mature young man," said the second-year boss. "He has been a big part of helping all of the newcomers fit into our situation. He has been critical in the building process as we continue to try to transform the program."
Correa began the 1999-2000 season, the first for the Aztecs under Steve Fisher, with a career game. He registered a double-double in the opener against UC Riverside with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Later in the season, he tied that scoring total with 22 points against No. 17 Oklahoma State.
"Last season started really well for me," he said. "Then I got hurt, then sick and then frustrated."
While Correa's experience may have mirrored that of the 1999-2000 Aztecs, he is also looking ahead to the new version of Aztecs.
"It is exciting to enter a season and know you are going to be better."
The fifth-year senior knows his topic. He was part of a 15-13 squad as a freshman, but has been in the middle of losing campaigns as a sophomore and a junior.
"We are going to be a lot better and everyone likes each other," he said of the 2000-01 Aztec squad. "It will be fun."
And even though Correa has high expectations for his senior season, he can't help but look beyond March.
"I think it comes with age," he said. "Five years is a long time and I do think about the future. I know when I'm through playing basketball I want to enter the business field, but what kind of business I am not yet sure. I am looking forward to the season, but I look forward to life after college, too."
Correa is unsure of his future residence. His family is eager for his return to South America and that is certainly a consideration.
At some point during the 2000-01 school year, Correa's family will arrive at San Diego State for the first time. But there is some debating in Brazil.
"They are trying to decide if they want to come for the last few games of the season so they can see me play, or if they want to wait for my graduation," Correa said.
Either way, Correa will not go through the emotional final year of college alone. The Ashcraft family of Del Mar, his American family during his year at Torrey Pines, are present at most of the Aztec home games.
"I am close to them and I always will be," Correa said. "Their son John is probably my best friend. He took the biggest hit when I got here. I was around him 24-7. He was on the basketball team and at home."
With San Diego State fans staring a rising program in the face, Fisher is glad to have a veteran of the past in the present.
"Marcelo Correa is someone who has been through the wars," the head coach said. "As a result of that I expect him to be a leader on this team. He knows what this conference is about and what the expectations are at this level of play.
"If he works hard, he can be one of the best big men in the Mountain West Conference. He is certainly one of the more experienced players in this league and that should make a difference."
As the tallest player on a small, but athletic roster, Correa's place with the Aztecs seemed defined. But for a well-traveled 23-year-old, it is always experience that makes the difference.
Early Ticket Purchases Urged For Aztecs-Toreros Hoops
Large walk-up crowd expected for city showdown
San Diego State University officials are encouraging fans who plan to attend the San Diego State-University of San Diego men's basketball game to purchase tickets in advance of the Saturday night contest.
"We are anticipating our largest crowd in more than three years," said San Diego State's assistant athletic director for marketing Steve Schnall. "It should be a great college atmosphere and we don't want fans for the city showdown to miss any action."
Tickets can be purchased in advance at Window G of Qualcomm Stadium (through Friday) or at the Cox Arena box office (open weekdays and at noon on Saturday). Tickets can also be purchased at Tickemaster outlets throughout the city or by telephone (619-220-TIXS). Online purchases may be made at ticketmaster. com or at www.goaztecs.com.
Advance ticket sales have topped the 5,000 mark with a large walk-up crowd expected. Fans who plan on making their purchases Saturday night are encouraged to arrive at Cox Arena prior to 6:30 p.m.
The largest crowd in the history of Cox Arena is 11,334 for the Aztecs and Fresno State on Jan. 31, 1998.