Redemption is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?
Heading into the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the 2012-13 San Diego State Aztecs basically had their epitaph written. They were a squad that had all the talent in the world, but just couldn’t get their shit correct. Over its final 16 games, SDSU had gone a mediocre 8-8, resulting in a demoralized fan base and a contract extension for A.J. Smith.
And then, when it mattered most, the team we were expecting all along showed up and waved its nuts in the face of a “major conference” foe.
And it was fucking pimp.
The magnitude of this win cannot be understated. Before today, the Aztecs had two wins in the NCAA Tournament ever. Both of those wins came against mid-major schools. Even though Oklahoma clearly wasn’t all that great, the Sooners are still a Big XII team. And beating a Big XII team on a stage like this matters in terms of perception.
No longer are the Aztecs mid-major pretenders. No longer are the Aztecs a program devoid of history save for one fluke season. Maybe you can say that about New Mexico (LOLOLOL, by the way), but not San Diego State.
Now, the Aztecs are just one win over something called Florida Gulf Coast away from hanging a motherfucking Sweet 16 banner. The second in three years. But more on that later.
If the theme tonight is redemption, it’s fitting that Jamaal Franklin was the star. He might be the most polarizing player to ever wear an SDSU uniform. There is a large contingent of fans who love him, and there is just as sizable a group who can’t stand him. And scores of people (including myself) are card carrying members of both factions depending on mood and alcohol intake.
Tonight, Franklin solidified his place as an Aztec player for the ages. He played though dings and a tweaked ankle to score 21 points. He played with his usual huevos, but he did so under control and with intelligence. Also those gold shoes were hella awesome so suck it Reggie Miller and Len Elmore.
And then there was James Rahon, a player who had gone from a guy with a reputation as a dead-eye sharpshooter to a guy with a reputation as someone who plays kind of good defense or whatever so get off his back already you h8r. Well tonight, Rahon the scorer resurfaced (17 points) at just the right time, keeping the Aztecs in striking distance when things threatened to get out of hand in the first half.
And let’s hope Deshawn Stephens doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. He had 11 boards (six offensive) to help the Aztecs outrebound the Sooners 36-28. Just a fantastic, gritty effort from the senior.
But it was a team win. The defense in the second half was unbelievable, holding the Sooners to one freaking field goal during a nine-minute span down the stretch. The Aztecs also hit 16-of-17 free throws, which has probably led to this reaction over on AztecMesa.
Surely, a lot of Aztec fans are now going to look at the Florida Gulf Coast matchup on Sunday and flip the fuck out. And that’s natural. Frankly, it’s kind of our way.
OMG if we lose to those nobodies, we will be a laughingstock forever and all will be lost!!!
Bullshit. With a tournament win in the bag, this season is already an unqualified success. And now, we’ll either get a win and another motherfucking banner, or we’ll get a prominent role in the forthcoming Disney movie about Florida Gulf Coast’s season starring Taylor Lautner and Nick Cannon.
One way or the other, immortality will be ours.