Tag Archives: San Diego State

Diamond Head Classic Championship: Best of the West

To call tonight’s Arizona-San Diego State contest a statement game would appear hyperbolic. On paper, and current state aside, this is a Mountain West team playing a Pac-12 team. David versus Goliath or whichever underdog fable you’d like to run with, this game would appear to hold little by way of overarching significance.

But such is not the case. The San Diego Aztecs, as it stands today, are the preeminent team of the West Coast; Sean Miller said so himself. They’ve not lost to a Pac-12 opponent in their previous seven tries – their last loss coming in 2009 – and haven’t lost to a California-based opponent in an obscene 25-straight games. The Aztec resume is a significant one and so when they take to the court in Hawaii to face off against #3 Arizona, I question: Who’s the dog here?

Indeed there’s something bigger than a Diamond Head Classic trophy on the line.

For Arizona, this is a reclamation of the presumed birthright; the pedestal they and their other high-major conference contemporaries have taken for granted. An opportunity to assert themselves as who they think they are. And I, for one, think these Wildcats believe they’re something special.

For San Diego State, tonight’s game is far from their proving grounds. They’re proven (see above). This is a game that Steve Fisher’s group believes they can, should, and will win. He’s built a program over there – from garnering three straight NCAA invites to seven straight NCAA or NIT invites to the vitriolic Show – SDSU believes they are winners; the key ingredient to any successful campaign.

Plus we’re looking at a bit of a rivalry here. This is a Christmas feature of opponents who have faced off twenty-seven times, with SDSU winning each of the last two times. And with the lines between BCS and otherwise having long been blurred, it should come as no surprise that a big-ish school in beautiful San Diego could make a run at best of the West and been successful at it.

By way of tangible stakes, there’s little more than a made-for-TV tournament title and a blip in national attention to be had here. But our closer look suggests Arizona is running with what one might consider the conference’s honor. I see it as the Wildcats standing up to what’s been the Pac-12’s bully and demonstrating that hey, these guys aren’t that tough for the other eleven. To date, no one’s stood up to the Aztecs and it’s time someone has. And no, to beat them would equate to putting Fisher’s team or program in their “mid-major” place. SDSU’s place is right wherever they want to be. They’ve earned the West’s top billing and should be applauded for that success.

But Arizona, the conference’s flagship program while UCLA does whatever they’re doing, has the chance to remind the others it’s ok to be good again. That this is indeed the Pac-12, the Conference of Champions that’s produced 217 NBA draft picks since 1980 (the second most of the big six conferences)and who used to put six teams in the Dance regularly. Who once offered their 1997 fifth place finisher to the Madness only to win it all. Who has some talented pieces that just might need to be reminded that simply because someone says you’re mediocre, doesn’t mean you have to be. Ask SDSU about it.

Sometimes winning and losing is the minute difference between belief and doubt. I’d question whether the Pac believes they can win. I mean, look at some of the losses to date: Kravish misses UNLV box out; Randle fouls Minnesota 40-feet from the basket; Albany, Cal Poly, and CSU-Northridge; Colorado barely showing up to Kansas.

Perhaps I’ve digressed from the Diamond Head championship game, but forgive me for recognizing that the San Diego State Aztecs have taken the Pac-12 – Arizona included – to task for the better part of three years. Actually, sorry I’m not sorry.

The Arizona Wildcats have been on a long road back to where they feel they belong, and sure that’s to say in the top-five competing for things far bigger than preseason tournaments. It feels great and it looks good and it’s real nice. Beating the well-prepared and un-intimidated San Diego State Aztecs will be another step in exercising the demons of recent Arizona season’s past. And perhaps eleven others.

This Weekend in the Pac-12: The debut

There’s a full slate of games this weekend as 10 of the Pac’s 12 are in action. Of course, Utah is playing so you might argue that only nine are in action but perhaps I’m being too harsh. Here’s linkage to the weekend schedule TV and all. But here it is cut and pasted, too:

Fri., Dec. 2
Washington at Nevada, 8 p.m. ESPNU

Sat., Dec. 3
USC at Minnesota, 1:15 p.m. BTN
Arizona State at Tulsa, 3 p.m. CBS SN
Northern Arizona at Arizona, 4:30 p.m. FSAZ/KWBA
Texas at UCLA, 1:30 p.m. FSN/PT
Utah at Fresno State, 1 p.m.
Eastern Washington at Washington State, 3:30 p.m. RTNW
Oregon vs. BYU, 3 p.m. (20) ESPNU

Sun., Dec. 4
North Carolina State at Stanford, 1 p.m. FSN
No. 24 California at San Diego State, 2 p.m. The Mtn
Montana at Oregon State, 5 p.m. RTNW

Naturally, all times are PST.

Briefly, before I get too far into the weekend preview and after mentioning TV, I’d like touch on the difficulty of watching and preview a post for next week: Larry Scott’s TV deal can’t come soon enough. I’ve already experienced two local football non-televised games (a Cal game and an Arizona game) and I’m now finding it a pain to find much Pac-12 hoops. While ESPN3 was convenient for Tuesdays’ Arizona-NMSU tilt, it shouldn’t take a stroke of Worldwide leader luck to get a West coast game in a West coast market. More to come.

Your weekend preview of Pac-12 games, the debut of this preview series.

Best Game You Can Watch: Texas at UCLA, Saturday 1:30 pm, FSN/PT
As the title suggests, this is the best game readily available for your viewing. We all know the struggles UCLA has had to date but that doesn’t mean they’re not a moderately talented squad. Texas comes to the Sports Arena an intriguing squad, loaded with talent but young talent. J’Covan Brown is filthy and is worth the watch in-and-of-himself. Then there’s the watch-a-train-wreck factor. As previously stated, UCLA appears as likely to implode as Reeves Nelson is to getting a new tattoo so maybe you should rubber neck and watch this car accident like it was in the middle of the 405.

Best Game You Can’t Watch: #24 Cal at San Diego State, Sunday 2 pm, The Mtn
Fristly, what the shit is The Mtn? I’ll answer: it’s the Mountain West Sports Network that won’t be airing the game in the Bay Area. This terrific game, featuring arguably the two best (I see you Gonzaga) teams on the West Coast, will be viewed by only a select audience. Preliminary searches show that the game is not even available on any Comcast Bay Area channel. But let’s get to the hoops and why, if you can, you should watch. San Diego State is 8-0 against the Pac-12 over the last 3 seasons (that includes 4 wins over Utah). Needless to say, Steve Fisher’s group has owned the Conference of Champions and it’s time to put them back in their rightful place: at the beach. Cal is more talented than the Aztecs who are coming off a tough home loss to Creighton. SDSU’s Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl (I guess that’s better than Cox Arena?) get loud and rowdy so the veteran Bears had best bring their A game. As an added anti-bonus, traveling to San Diego isn’t even a bonus as the weather forecasts in both SF and SD are identical. Look it up.

Game not to watch: The only game not televised this weekend is Utah at Fresno State. And for good reason. These two powers are a combined 4-9, are the 180th (FSU) and 294th (UU) highest scoring teams in the country, and both have played (and fortunately beat) teams who don’t even have linkable team pages on ESPN.com – the same company that employs Rick Reilly and Craig James. Perhaps the networks are doing us all a favor keeping this one blacked out.

Garbage Guide:

  • Remember when Minnesota went to the Final Four? Neither does the NCAA. But feel free to ask Jan Gangelhoff to write about it.
  • Washington State is in fact better at being Eastern Washington than Eastern Washington. Mapped it. However, this could be an “if a tree falls in the forest” argument.
  • Rick Barnes: take your 16 NBA Draft picks and win something someone would care about.
  • Maybe because the Fresno State game isn’t on TV, they’ll be better suited to throw the game.
  • Ok, this may not be trash talk, but Steve Fisher is increasingly looking like John Wooden: