The Aztecs men’s basketball team took a trip to Taco Bell on Saturday night and it went about as well as you might expect. It started out pretty tasty, but ended up with us all doubled over in pain and weeping on the toilet.
Look, I know. I’m sorry.
I should really feel worse about going with the hackneyed LOL TACO BELL ARENA joke as my lede, but I just don’t. Sure it’s lazy and cheap and unimaginative, but did this game – does this team – really deserve any more effort than that?
Also I’ve consumed several beers.
This game felt like a likely loss from the outset, but I don’t think any of us were prepared for this: a 78-66 thrashing at the hands of a Boise State Broncos team that’s probably not very good, but sure as hell is better than SDSU right now. The Aztecs fell to 0-3 in Mountain West play for the first time since the waning days of the Clinton Administration.
And keep in mind, this is probably the worst that MWC hoops has ever been.
Let’s see, what else? OH! SDSU also fell to 8-7 overall and 0-5 (oh and damn five!!!) on the road. At least in the previous losses away from Viejas, the Aztecs hung tough until the bitter end. Tonight they couldn’t even be bothered to tease us.
The lasting image from this game will be rascally cartoon bear Nick Duncan pausing between draining 3 after 3 to Kawhi-clap in our collective faces. It’s a good thing we, as a fanbase, haven’t exuded any hubris ourselves for the past decade or so or this might feel like richly-deserved comeuppance. That would be really awkward and unfortunate for us!
It’s becoming painfully obvious that this mix of players is not particularly good. The Aztecs don’t defend with the vigor of years past. They’re soft inside, getting absolutely abused on the offensive glass by the Broncos. And some (most?) of the players we were damn sure were going to turn into stars have taken a step back.
Not to pick on Trey here, but … damn. The junior went 2-of-8 from the floor on Saturday, making him 6-of-30 (20 percent) from the field since the start of conference play. That is less than optimal!
Max Hoetzel was the lone bright spot for the Aztecs as he continues to indicate he’s the outside scoring threat we all hoped he would be. Unfortunately, at this point, that seems about as useful as an All-Star closer on the Padres. He drained five 3s tonight, including three in the first eight minutes to help the Aztecs jump out to a 21-10 lead. Subtract that start from the final score, and that should give you a pretty good idea of how things went from there.
I understand it’s still January and here’s still time to pick up the pieces and play for something meaningful. But I think we’ve all come to grips with what we’re watching here: the worst SDSU basketball team in probably a dozen years. In a way, there’s a glimmer of hope in that comparison. The 2004-05 Aztecs went 11-18 as youngsters Brandon Heath and Marcus Slaughter took their lumps while learning how to win. The following year, they dominated the conference.
That’s the best case scenario now: that this is the learning experience for the likes of Kell and Jeremy Hemsley and Zylan Cheatham and Malik Pope. Perhaps this is the adversity that will harden them and make them eager to rinse out the foul taste of mediocrity. Or perhaps this is the end of a great run of national relevance for San Diego State basketball.
That’s the rest of this season in a nutshell. It’s not about whether the Aztecs can reach 20 wins again or get a really good seed in the CBI or some shit. It’s about whether this group of complementary pieces can – at some point – grow and learn to function together as a team. If they can, maybe one day we can think about this season as anything but an unmitigated disaster.
Not losing at home to San Jose State on Tuesday night sure would be a swell start, in that regard.