A little less than two months ago, a buddy and I went to a bar in North Park to watch the Aztecs-Boise State hoops game. We were the only two people in the establishment who gave a shit, to be sure, and I got a big eye roll from the bartender when I asked her to change one of the nine TVs showing NFL Network highlights onto ESPNU or whatever jerkwater channel the game was on. Then SDSU proceeded to suffer probably their most brutal, listless, depressing loss in a season of stanky-ass losses.
As you can imagine, I spent that night feeling kind of crappy about my choice of hobbies and my priorities in general.
Right now I’m writing this blog post in the middle of the night (thanks, 8:30 start) one day removed from an international flight and with a long day at work and a 9:30 p.m. game time (fucking hell) looming tomorrow. And you know what? At the moment, I’m good with it.
A game like this can sustain you.
SDSU pounded third-seeded Boise State to mashed potatoes (Idaho joke) in the MWC Tournament on Thursday night, 87-68. It was a display of shock and awe the likes of which we haven’t seen from this squad in a long time.
How do you go about housing a 3 seed by 19 points? The Aztecs made threes (!). They rebounded (!!). They even dunked a couple of times.
No, really, I have proof! Here is one of them:
Mmmph. Love the swagger on that pass by Malik Pope, who finished with 22 points and 10 boards (6 offensive) for his second double-double of the tournament. Pope, maligned by the fans and press and kinda/sorta his coach earlier this season, has absolutely stepped up with the season hanging in the balance. Tonight he mixed it up with human Foster’s commercial Nick Duncan and got the best of the big galoot.
More visual aids:
Now, given that this is the 2016-17 Aztecs men’s basketball season, we couldn’t just revel in this. There had to be something, well, something like this …
That – the result of a hyper-extended knee – happened with 3:43 to play and game already out of reach because of course it did. Malik returned to the bench and later told the press he would be fine tomorrow, but for a guy with a history of knee issues, it’s scary. Let’s hope it doesn’t swell too much overnight. We’re worried about swelling, right? Look, I’m not a doctor OK?
Other game balls? Well, when you shoot 54 percent including SIXTY FOUR percent from beyond the arc, there are going to be a few to go around. Max Hoetzel hit 5-of-6 from downtown for 21 points.
Read that again: MAX HOETZEL HAD 21 POINTS.
Valentine Izundu had four blocks, giving him 12 in his last three games. That is many.
Hell, even the fans showed up in numbers and voice (and stupid Hawai’ian shirts) which, given the way this season went, was definitely not a given or even necessarily deserved. San Diego fans in general and SDSU fans in particular get shit on a lot for being fair-weather types, so I feel this merits a big mention here.
Put it all together and it feels like maybe, just maybe, this team has a little bit of momentum and swagger and sense of purpose right now. One win away from 20. Two wins away from dancing.
Dare we dream?
Eh, maybe we should just wait and see how Malik is feeling in the morning.
San Diego State faces Colorado State at 9:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinal. The Rams’ decisive final possession is tentatively set for 11:33. Hold on to yer butts.