One month ago, Trey Kell was a tragic story. The San Diego native was a key part of a vaunted recruiting class that disappointed, producing diminishing returns every single season. The tragedy was capped with a cruel senior campaign that saw him injured and sick and injured again.
Today, the first-year head coach and the hometown senior capped off one of the most stirring comeback stories in San Diego State sports history, beating the New Mexico Lobos in an excruciating-thrilling-horrible-wonderful 82-75 come-from-behind victory in the Mountain West Tournament title game in Vegas. The Aztecs will go to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons thanks to an improbable nine-game winning streak that had the kind of redemption arcs you only see in sports movies where the main character is a golden retriever or a field goal kicking mule.
The San Diego State University men’s basketball team lost again, 88-78 at UNLV. It’s an outcome now all too familiar and comfortable. Even in the new bad era of SDSU hoops, this one stands out: The first loss to the Rebs on their ugly-ass home floor since the 2012-13 season, when Chase Tapley and the Tecs wore the good uniforms with SAN DIEGO and STATE above and below the numbers, respectively.
That 2012-13 team was a 7 seed and won an NCAA Tournament game, a baseline standard of success fading into distant memory and totally unimaginable for the 2017-18 Aztecs.
Amid a lost San Diego State men’s basketball season spiraling into irrelevance, it’s nice that the Aztecs still possess enough talent to give us moments of pure happiness. That’s not nothing, folks!
Yes, SDSU’s record merely improved to .500 in conference with a win tonight over Colorado State. Yes, the thought of SDSU winning three games in three days (let alone four in four) in the Mountain West Tournament still seems like fantasy. Yes, Colorado State is among the MWC’s most putrid teams, at least in the non El Camino Rivalry division.
But you know what … screw all that.
Dwelling on three game losing streaks sucks. Wringing our hands about the Aztecs getting a first round bye in Vegas is not why we watch this stupid sport. We’re in it for nights like tonight, when your team drains a bunch of 3s and nearly drops a Benjamin on the most annoying coach in the conference.