One game into the the Mountain West slate, and the San Diego State men’s basketball season is already a fully engulfed tire fire. I’m not sure whether to weep or just be grateful I never got the chance to really invest myself in this lost cause.
Thanks, I guess?
I don’t know, maybe that’s a little too harsh. But in the wake of the Aztecs’ disheartening 68-62 loss at Viejas on Sunday to an extremely meh New Mexico squad, I don’t think it is.
We’re reached a point in the season, at 13 games and five losses in, where I think we can say definitively what this team is: A very nice collection of talented complementary pieces completely lacking in on-court leadership or any semblance of a killer instinct.
These Aztecs can blow you out when everything is going well and the shots are falling, sure. That’s exactly what happened in their three games at the Diamond Head Classic. But when they get in a close game late, they’re just as likely to panic and piss down their leg like a lost child wandering around a shopping mall Jamba Juice.
My how things have changed.
This same thing happened in Loyola Chicago’s empty gym. It happened in that scam college’s thunderdome in Phoenix. It happened here vs Arizona State, in this season’s first home loss to a mediocre opponent from the great southwest. When things start going bad and someone needs to step up to make a big shot to stem the tide, no one steps forward.
Quick thought exercise: If the Aztecs are down a point with time expiring, who do you want with the ball in his hands? I can come up with a pretty big list of guys you don’t want taking the big shot, but guys you do? Maybe Jeremy Hemsley or Trey Kell or Zylan Cheatham or even Max Hoetzel. I guess. But I wouldn’t draw up a play for any of them with any sense of conviction.
The Aztecs, who led by 11 at the half and didn’t trail after the first minute of play until 1:50 were left, didn’t hit a shot from the field in the final 4 minutes plus. Leading 61-60, here’s how their final six possessions went down:
- Hemsley missed 3
- Valentine Izundu turnover
- Kell missed jumper
- Hemsley 1-of-2 free throws
- Hemsley turnover
- Hemsley missed 3
(pauses to take a swig of Boone’s Farm)
I don’t know, maybe Malik Pope or Matt Shrigley (both scratched with injuries in this one) might be that guy, though they sure weren’t in previous losses. Maybe something might change between now and Vegas, and one of the other complementary pieces will suddenly become a catalyst.
Also maybe I’ll find a winning lottery ticket on the floor of my apartment complex’s laundry room. You never know!
SDSU now embarks on its toughest road swing of the season, with games at Nevada and Boise State looming, meaning there’s a decent chance we could be looking at an 0-3 ballsquad the next time the Aztecs take the floor at Viejas.
Be sure to check StubHub for great deals in prime seating locations! They’re sure to be plentiful.