The San Diego State men's basketball team seems to be riding a bit of a low right now. But hey, there's two sides to every story.
Fans were genuinely disgusted, and rightfully so, by this team's showing in Seattle on Sunday. SDSU played a turnover-infested game last night, but was still able to fight back from an 8-point deficit against Long Beach State and win by a point. I'd like to take this time to personally thank the Aztecs for sparing the fan community a tough loss, because let's face it, all hell would've broken loose.
The other side of the story I referenced is the mind state of Mr. Fisher and the young men who actually play the game on the court. Here are a few lines that Fisher and Winston Shepard dropped following the game last night.
"Our kids were excited as they've been in a while coming into the locker room," Fisher said. "I think sometimes you come in and there's relief that you've won -- it was not that tonight. There was genuine enthusiasm and energy and excitement because we won that game and it felt good for all of us."
"I don't really think we've been in a funk," Shepard said. "I watch a ton of college basketball and there aren't too many great teams out there who are clicking on all cylinders. We want to peak in February heading into March. Nobody is panicking. We don't really pay attention to what everybody in the media says. We know we've got great players -- all-conference type players, and we're going to continue to attack and be aggressive."
These particular comments and attitudes suggest to me that although the product on the court hasn't exactly been A-1 lately, all is still right on Montezuma Mesa. I get that the Aztecs slipped by Long Beach by one point, but it's not often that you see a team get called for six offensive charges in a half.
Yes, SDSU did throw the ball away six more times on their way to 12 turnovers in the first half, but a couple of those charge calls could have gone either way. And the 21-9 rebounding differential led to the Aztecs scoring on those possessions if the initial shots didn't fall. Despite the trouble finding the bottom of the net, SDSU went on a 13-0 scoring run in the middle-third of the half when its defense held the 49ers scoreless for seven and a half minutes.
Going back to Sunday's game, if I were a betting man, I'd put a few greenbacks behind the idea that we will never see this Aztec team shoot 20 percent from the field in a game ever again. Unless, of course, it's playing on the deck of the USS Midway.
The Aztecs have a week to prepare for Cincinnati, compared to three days when they played Washington on the road. Much like the Aztecs, the Bearcats are on a tournament run in recent seasons, making it past the first round in each of their last four seasons. You could draw further comparisons based on this season alone looking at these two teams' stats. SDSU and Cincy are ranked 279th and 280th respectively in scoring in 2014, and 16th and 6th in points allowed.
The difference is SDSU has played a power house team close, beaten a top 25 team and a couple programs on the cuff, and lost to a team that has since leap-frogged them in the AP poll. Cincy, 7-1 on the season, has beaten a team from the America East Conference, Conference USA, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Northeast Conference, two teams from the Ohio Valley Conference, and lost to a squad from the SEC.
The basketball gods wasted no time in kicking me in the rear for my column last week, but I'm going to go ahead and reserve my optimism for this year's Aztecs. If SDSU takes care of Cincy like it should, they've got a six-game win streak laid out for them with velvet rope.
J.J. O'Brien's face in the main story photo takes the words right out of my mouth. It's all goooood.