The wonderfully obnoxious and arrogant fan chant used to be “We Run Cali.” It started up during an absurd string of 47 consecutive games won by the San Diego State men’s basketball team against California schools — a run snapped three years ago in a loss at Fresno State.
These days, San Diego State doesn’t even run New Cali.
The Aztecs fell to the Bulldogs again on Tuesday night, 77-73. It’s the second straight season SDSU has lost to Fresno State at Viejas Arena, and the fourth loss in five games against those guys. Such losses were unfathomable not too long ago. Now they don’t elicit much more than mild cursing under the breath followed by a resigned shrug.
Things sure aren’t what they used to be around here.
This one stung particularly bad, despite how jaded we’ve all become. The loss was the team equivalent of the knee to the no-no zone that caused Malik Pope to exit the game with five minutes remaining. In falling to 11-6 (3-3 Mountain West), SDSU’s at-large NCAA aspirations are officially crumpled up in a heap, rocking gently. And like Pope tonight, they won’t be back.
It’s hard to recall now, but SDSU once led this game by double-digits, and appeared to be cruising to victory on the strength of another dunk-filled Jalen McDaniels double-double (14 points, 13 rebounds). Would you believe it all came crashing down in an epic offensive drought?
You … you would?
Yeah, I guess that’s completely believable.
SDSU managed only two (2) baskets in between a Pope jumper at at the 9:33 mark and a Trey Kell three with 1:22 remaining. That’s roughly eight minutes of possessions that provided such diverse outcomes as 1) getting swatted while driving to the basket, 2) losing the handle while driving to the basket and 3) committing an offensive foul.
All five Aztecs starters (Pope, McDaniels, Kell, Matt Mitchell and Devin Watson) scored in double figures, though it’s hard to say that anyone but McDaniels played particularly well. Kell, on the heels of a brutal game in Boise, missed some key free throws down the stretch. Watson got himself in foul trouble. Mitchell struggled on D. Malik took a direct shot to his D.
Fresno State, led by guard Deshon Taylor (22 points) and reserve forward Nate Grimes (15 and 10), got to the basket with ease against SDSU’s rather porous defense.
So what exactly are we watching here?
Sure looks like team lacking identity. Is this a youth movement, with the keys to the car in the hands of youngsters like McDaniels and Mitchell? Is this the last hurrah for outstanding, but thus far disappointing upperclassmen like Pope and Kell? Right now, it feels like some sort of purgatory between the two — a worst of both worlds with no chemistry and ample knees to the junk.
Speaking of chemistry! Max Montana did not play at all tonight. I’m guessing he must be hurt or something.
Ah. Sounds like all is well, then.
SDSU plays at the Pit on Saturday against a New Mexico team that just won at UNLV. I’m sure that will go fine.
Everything is fine.