OK, we’ll get to the Zeigs vs. The Show stuff in a minute, I promise. You came here (presumably) to read about basketball.
And the basketball game in question was actually really good!
The Aztecs played with outstanding cohesion and intensity as they manhandled UNLV 77-64 on Sunday at Viejas Arena. The Rebels, rebuilding under old friend Marvin Menzies, are pretty bad these days, but we can be thrilled with the streak implications of this victory:
- Three straight wins now pulls the Aztecs to 16-10 and 8-6 in Mountain West play, leaving them in fifth place and controlling their own destiny in the push for a first-round bye in the MWC tournament.
- That’s 10 (ten!) straight wins over the Rebels, which is important because LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.
- The maintenance of the 20-win streak and postseason play streak, both currently at 11 seasons, now seems more likely than not.
And if you are of the admittedly tenuous belief that how the Aztecs look in one game is likely to be a sign of things of things to come, you can be thrilled with what you saw on the court.
You had defensive intensity that forced 14 turnovers and led to transition points.
You had defense and fancy passing.
You had Malik Pope, money from mid-range and crashing the boards, just missing his second double-double of the season (he finished with 17 and 9).
You had Matt Shrigley pouring in 16 off the bench and carrying the offense as SDSU sprinted out to a 15-point halftime lead.
You had Trey Kell making up for a quiet scoring night (six points) with seven assists, seven rebounds and a clutch shot when the Rebels started flirting with a late comeback.
When SDSU plays like this, it is the best team in the conference. I really don’t think that’s a particularly controversial statement.
Speaking of controversy …
Civil war breaks out
For those fortunate souls who don’t spend much time on Twitter, you might need a little back story for how exactly we got … here:
As we all know, The Show has atrophied a bit this season, at least in terms of total numbers. If you’ve gone to games, you’ve clearly noticed that the students don’t quite reach to the top rows for conference games like they used to.
Now, I’m no expert, but this *may* have something to do with the fact that the Aztecs missed the tournament last year, lost to Grand Fucking Canyon for the second straight season, dropped their first three in conference play and now have 10 losses in mid-February. It is *possible* such factors may play a part in suppressing turnout.
Orrrr maybe it’s because The Show is bad and dumb and lazy and the athletic department should punish them for the heinous crime of not being enthused about what, for a time, appeared to be a middling underachiever.
Guess which of these arguments our local beat writer subscribes to?
At Sunday’s game, the animus boiled over after Mark-Zeigler of the Union-Tribune news-paper fired off this gem of a tweet about another relatively light student turnout. I will screenshot it here since you are probably already blocked by Zeigler, who turns into Skylar Spencer whenever he ventures into his notifications.
That very dad #shrinkit hashtag is a reference to an idea he presented in the second article I linked up there. Here’s the meat of it in case you don’t wish to give it your click.
The student apathy provides a fulcrum to re-work the contract with SDSU’s Associated Students, who paid for Viejas Arena, and its provision for a 2,500-seat student section. Shrinking it could provide an additional revenue stream for a cash-strapped athletic department that relies heavily on public support.
Here’s one idea: Reduce the student section to 1,500. Allow the athletic department to sell an additional 500 season tickets (which shouldn’t be a problem with a wait list close to 1,000). Set aside the remaining 500 tickets as an either/or proposition – student overflow or single-game sales to the general public a few days before each game.
It’s a totally reasonable proposal so long as you ignore a few pesky facts:
- A good 20-25 percent of the paid ticketholders haven’t been showing up either, and ticket prices on the secondary market have plummeted. I have a buddy who keeps offering me his tickets for free. Seriously, like every other game.
- The students (and the non-student fans Z gives a free pass to) are simply behaving like every fanbase everywhere when things turn sour.
- The atmosphere created by The Show over the past decade is undeniably largely responsible for the fact that SDSU basketball has become a hot ticket in the first place.
- Free student tickets are not a gift. They are an earned perk for the student body, which pays increased fees to keep the athletic department in the black.
- The “not half-full” thing was a bit of an exaggeration.
And so words were exchanged. Diplomats expelled. Infantry units mobilized to the front.
Annnnnd then came the shooting war.
Households torn apart! Brothers fighting brothers! Twitter fights between alumni and students!
I think we can all see where this is headed.
I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy, we fought ourselves, and the enemy was in us. The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days. As I’m sure The Show will be, fighting with Zeigs for what Rhah calls “possession of my soul.” There are times since, I’ve felt like a child, born of those two fathers. But be that as it may, those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again. To teach to others what we know, and to try with what’s left of our lives to find a goodness and a meaning to this life.
The Aztecs host Fresno State on Wednesday at 8 p.m. May the lord have mercy on our souls.