After taking us all on a month-long emotional roller coaster ride in which every invite to a team workout and every Twitter avatar change became a reason for panic, Jalen McDaniels is coming back for his sophomore season at San Diego State.
In an extremely SDSU student move, McDaniels waited until the last moment to complete his assignment, announcing his withdrawal from the NBA Draft with barely an hour to go before the deadline. Been there, man.
Back when things looked bleak for San Diego State men’s basketball, I would often try to break up all the bitter text in my grim recaps with a few visual aids. One of my favorite crutches was the win probability chart, because, hey, why expend brainpower writing angry words about another brutal loss when you can let a line graph tell the grim tale for you.
Anyway, here is what those charts looked like back then.
Say, would you like to see the win probability chart for the Aztecs’ Mountain West Conference semifinal game against the University of Nevada-Reno on Thursday night?
The lifting of Malik Pope’s quasi-suspension on Tuesday probably did not change a lot in the grand scheme of things. The San Diego State men’s basketball team is still a long shot to win the Mountain West Conference Tournament (though certainly not as hopeless a long shot as before). It remains out of NCAA at-large contention. It probably isn’t going to make the NIT field, either.
But Brian Dutcher’s decision to reinstate Pope after the conclusion of the program’s internal investigation into the star senior’s borrowing habits did this much: It breathed needed life into Viejas Arena and created a fun, memorable Tuesday night in late February.
Self-help guru Tony Robbins said — in an ad I saw during the Olympics — “Progress is happiness.” That’s really the key to the three-game win streak the San Diego State men’s basketball team is riding. After a sloppy first half the Aztecs tuned in, turned on and dropped a 67-56 defeat on Air Force in Colorado Springs. Dwell in bliss.
SDSU is healthy, playing with energy, defending hard, throwing alley-oop lobs and generally bossing their mediocre conference opponents as the gods intended. From their recent depths of despair it’s real progress, a promising path to happiness. Robbins, Ram Dass and James Naismith himself would be proud. I’m ready to walk across hot coals for these guys.
There are two ways to look at what transpired Saturday afternoon at Viejas Arena, where the San Diego State men’s basketball team crushed UNLV 94-56 in what felt like a November paycheck game against a Southland Conference team that starts a 6-foot-5 power forward wearing a headband and goggles.
On one hand, you’d be forgiven if you came away a little bitter.
Where the hell has this been? That aggressive defense, that commitment to doing something on offense besides jacking threes, that perfect use of the bench. If SDSU stated playing like that a couple of months ago we’d be talking about NCAA Tournament seeding rather than the thrilling quest to avoid the conference tournament play-in round.
On the other hand, LOLOLOLOL eat it UNLV.
The Aztecs just rained merciless destruction on one of our most hated rivals, delivering the biggest beating ever in this series. Keep in mind, that spans 69 games and includes several seasons in the ’90s when SDSU was seriously putrid. The Rebels are probably hitchhiking back to Vegas right now while Malik Pope joyrides their team bus through Pacific Beach. At least I hope so.
Yeah, I’m feeling like going with option No. 2 here. Today was awesome, so I say let’s sit back, relax and enjoy the following video of SDSU beating UNLV with a pillowcase full of doorknobs, metaphorically. Mostly metaphorically.