Improbable occurrences aren’t always good. For instance, it is improbable that you will catch a social disease from the toilet seats in Adams Humanities. I think studies have pegged the likelihood at only about 35 percent, but that’s cold comfort when you’re feeling the burn while waiting for those antibiotics to kick in.
You know, or so I’ve heard.
Sometimes, though, improbable is as awesome as a whipped cream waterfall. One example is the 2012 Mountain West Conference Champion San Diego State Aztecs. Another example? The 2012 Mountain West Conference Champion San Diego State Aztecs.
Sorry, just wanted to type that twice.
Yes, this year’s improbable title was an amazing confluence of improbable factors of all different magnitudes.
- On the not totally surprising side, you had the emergence of Jamaal Franklin into the conference’s top player. We all knew this guy had preternatural talent, but before conference play began it was an open question as to whether he could raise his scoring average while lowering his Steve Fisher facepalm average. He did both. And it was good.
- On the reasonably surprising side, you have winning at an equal or greater clip than UNLV and New Mexico — two deeper and more complete teams. Lest we forget, the Aztecs got zero first place votes in the preseason media poll. Which is one reason I’m glad polls don’t count for shit in college hoops.
But there has been one improbable development from this season that merits this level of reaction:
What is it?
It’s one statistic, actually.
Minutes Per Game
Look at the number. It doesn’t even seem strange anymore, does it?
After 30 games, we’re all used to Tim Shelton being a team-oriented, energetic, dependable, charge-taking machine. Clutching up for the game-tying basket with a title on the line? Just Tim being Tim.
How soon we forget.
If you were to have predicted four months ago that this guy would be playing this well, for this long, on those knees, I would have advised you to stop listening to “Game Time Ready” while huffing household cleaners.
I mean, there were a lot of question marks before this season started, but one thing was a stone cold, irrefutable fact: Tim Shelton is an irreparably broken player who can maybe give you 15 minutes on a good day (But he’s a good teammate and he raps and we like him, so please don’t mention it, OK?).
We could have filled a file cabinet with supporting evidence.
Exbihit A was this.
Exhibit B was this.
Exhibit C was the details of his 37 knee surgeries, including the most recent one where they removed all his remaining tendons and replaced them with Twizzlers and Fruit Rollups.
That was the Tim Shelton we thought we knew. He was the guy who would make us all shake our heads and talk about what a waste it all was. He had so much talent. He seems like such a good kid.
Then, all the sudden, he was a rock. Shelton logged more minutes this season than Garrett Green or Deshawn Stephens. Productive minutes, too. His new signature move? Falling to the floor after a 200-plus-pound man gets a running start and slams into him.
Sure! Why not?
This is one of the most improbable — and emotionally satisfying — stories I’ve seen in my decade-plus as an Aztec fan. This is like Lynell Hamilton winning the 2007 Heisman, or Travis Hanour leading the Aztecs to the 2004 Sweet 16, or Tom Craft wearing a headset.
And if the Aztecs advance deep into March, it’s a story the national media is going to devour like a cow in a piranha tank. Even you Tim Shelton fanboys out there are going to get sick of hearing about it. But this story merits repetition.
Much like a banner in a rebuilding year, improbable doesn’t begin to describe it.