San Diego State University, the city’s oldest institution of higher education, lost a men’s basketball game on its home floor to the University of San Diego, a private Roman Catholic college off Friars Road, undergraduate enrollment 5,855. It was a sad thing to witness.
Do any of us want to dwell unnecessarily on the ugly 73-61 loss that handed the City Championship to USD? Not me, palooka, and probably not you.
A little after noon Pacific time, I was in a pretty dark place. Well, I was at work, so that goes without saying. But more so than usual even!
In my head, I was already crafting a depressing game recap about how the Aztecs were on the verge of being cast into the sea at the Maui Invitational. How the hunt for a quality nonconference win was looking grim. How one day after getting their doors blown off by No. 1 Duke, the Aztecs responded by getting their doors blown off by a team that was very decidedly not Duke.
Don’t get me wrong, Xavier is a solid Big East foe, but when you’re getting run by 19 in the first half against the Musketeers, many people would consider that time to panic.
Instead, Jalen McDaniels decided it was time to grab himself some plate lunch and fuckin’ eat.
McDaniels scored a career-high 26 points as the Aztecs roared to within three at halftime and then dominated the game’s final 15 minutes for a 79-74 win — a thrilling national TV showcase for both an NBA prospect and a team looking to build an at-large resume.
What a comeback for San Diego State. Jalen McDaniels carries the Aztecs to a come from behind win over Xavier in Maui. Musketeers are now 2-3 overall.
Look man, what do you want from me here? Would you like me to break down the deficiencies, misplays and tactical errors that led to the Aztecs’ 90-64 loss to No. 1 Duke in the opening round of the Maui Invitational? Why?
That would be a little like picking apart the structural deficiencies of a really nice sports car that just got demolished by a BNSF freight train. If you don’t want your ride to get wrecked, keep it off the damn tracks. But with the Aztecs in harm’s way amid the deepest Maui field ever, here we are.
Duke, as they say, is Duke —but this year’s freshman-laden squad is extremely Duke, save for two big differences:
They amazingly don’t have anyone on the roster who stands out as extremely punchable.
They somehow possess more raw talent and offensive firepower than we’re used to seeing. From Duke.
Barring injury or major upset, the Blue Devils are probably going to cruise to the National Championship in March. Coach K’s guys started their season by pummeling Kentucky by 34 points. Let it be known, for the record, that the Duke Blue Devils did not beat the Aztecs by that many points (SUCK IT, KENTUCKY), nor did they win wire-to-wire.
Tonight marked my first look at the 2018-19 San Diego State men’s basketball Aztecs and … well … before I get to gushing over this 103-64 thrashing of Texas Southern, I feel like I should temper things a bit.
The last time the Aztecs kept it one hunnit, as the kids say, I was inspired to write this bit of sanguine nonsense that looks pretty dumb now. That 2016-17 team ended up being one of the most disappointing SDSU squads in a decade. So beware the siren song of the small sample size is what I’m saying.
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.