I will start off by saying that this entry was more difficult than the last. There were no opposing fans, mascots or an arena to ridicule. I guess the opponents’ lack of fans is worthy of ridicule though.
When the schedule for the 2010-2011 season was announced this trip was immediately one of the most anticipated of the year for me. It’s not often you get the opportunity to attend two games away from home all in one trip. The fact that the event was to take place within driving distance made it all the more exciting. I believe the best road trips are the ones where there are few opposing fans, because it is easier for The Show to dominate the arena, and get in opposing players’ heads. That’s one reason we made the trip to Colorado State last year, and it is the reason I’m heading to the Air Force game in Colorado Springs this year. The event at the South Point would be something extra special though. If the CBE was anything to judge by then this event would be devoid of life, at least that was Ted Leitner’s assessment. I expected that there would actually be a large showing of Aztec fans, because of the proximity to San Diego, and the team’s great success this season. It turns out I was more right than Uncle Teddy, for each of our games SDSU had a couple hundred fans in attendance.
This week was set up to be an awesome Aztec extravaganza when SDSU was chosen to compete in the Poinsettia Bowl at home in Aztec Warrior Stadium. The plan was to head to Vegas on Tuesday morning, own souls in Vegas for two nights, then return to San Diego Thursday morning, to get our tailgate on and observe the Aztecs’ pummeling of the Midshipmen of Navy.
During the drive to Las Vegas rain would hinder our progress, but not our spirits. When we finally arrived at the South Point, we first dropped our luggage off in the room and headed to the gymnasium to scope out our digs for the next couple days. Having seen pictures, the place was exactly what I expected. When we entered Miami was playing Rice, and the place had perhaps 150 fans, just the way I like it.
The event was a veritable who’s who of college basketball blue chips. You had your Stetsons, Arkansas-Little Rocks, Oral Robertses… you get the idea. The organizers of this event hit the jackpot when they landed a top 10 ranked team to bring any sort of legitimacy to the affair. The excitement surrounding the Aztecs showed on the South Point’s roadside marquee.
The Aztecs would face defending World Series champions San Francisco in the first game, and the Indiana Hoosiers Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis Jaguars in the second game.
For each game The Show was able to secure the best seats in the house, directly behind the Aztecs bench. At first we were unsure if we were allowed on the concrete at floor level, but as we slowly walked to the seats no one attempted to stop us. In fact there didn’t seem to be any staff in the gym of any sort. I felt like I could have sprinted on the court and interfered with the game with no repercussions. From our location we could hear all the most intimate moments in the Aztecs’ huddles.
The San Francisco game provided a scare for some of the more unseasoned of us. SDSU was unable to pull away from the Dons, and finally ended up winning by making a few free throws to close the game out. After the game the players were incredibly gracious and appreciative, and came by The Show to offer their thanks for our attendance. We are always more than happy to travel to whatever road games we can. Tim Shelton offered apologies for what he deemed a poor performance. Well Tim, a win is a win, and I’ll take one any way we can get it. There is another team that is on the other side of that score, and I’m glad it’s not us.
The South Point has a great array of possible post-game activities. For those not interested in gambling there is $1/game bowling. We decided it would be fun to roll. Just make sure that if you step over the line you mark it zero. I was able to put together an unbeatable string of frames in our second game. Strike, 7, strike, strike, spare, spare, spare. I was on fire like DJ Gay against a UCSB zone. For post rolling dining the South Point offers excellent value. At the Coronado Café, for just $2.45 you can get eggs, bacon, toast and hash browns. Can life get better? I submit that it cannot!
After bowling, and dining at the Coronado Café I was finally able to hit the sack after having been awake for 29 hours.
Our second game of the event started bright and early at 7PM. This game would feature a rematch with the Aztecs’ heated rival IUPUI. In the first meeting the Aztecs came away with a 15 point victory. So despite the less than stellar performance on the previous day, and playing our second game in 2 days (and third game in 5 days), I was confident the Aztecs would win. I’m writing this blog 6 days after the game occurred, so I’m a little hazy on the details. The most important detail though is that the Aztecs won. The game was close, but as a fan you have to appreciate that SDSU is still undefeated. No matter the score at the end of the game, I will always be thankful for the effort that our student athletes put forth.
After the second game we decided to eat at Steak n Shake, in two shifts. Steak n Shake is a Midwest staple offering mostly burgers and fries. We ate there at around 11:30PM, and I had a triple burger with fries and cherry limeade. By 12:30AM I was dining again at the Coronado Café on the $2.45 breakfast special. My favorite moment of the trip came between those consecutive meals. All the teams and coaches in the event were staying at the South Point, so it was common to see them walking around, in fact it was funny to see the IUPUI coach gambling at one of the tables. He had to head to the ATM at least once, so he may be no better at gambling than winning basketball games. Anyway, back to my point. After dining at Steak n Shake we were hanging out trying to decide what to do next. That’s when Steve Fisher walked past, he must have been looking for someone or something. When he was about 100 feet away he passed by our friend WALDshOw. We indicated to her that she should say hi to the coach. The man that has coached in 3 national championship games. The man that has led SDSU to a #7 ranking. So she goes up to coach and says “Fisher, high five!” Of course, Steve Fisher was more than happy to oblige, and our gracious coach thanked her for coming.
The next day my group left Vegas at 7AM, we wanted to be back in plenty of time in order to start tailgating for the Poinsettia Bowl. The SHOWgate really got going a few hours until game time, and it was probably the biggest we’ve ever had. I participated in and won my first ever game of beer pong, ending my opponents 26 game win streak. Shortly before the football game we headed in to Aztec Warrior Stadium, and took our place at field level. From there we enjoyed the Aztecs’ dismantling of the Midshipmen. San Diego State University is the Poinsettia Bowl Champion, and ranked #7 in the nation in basketball. Take the time to reflect on that. The accomplishments of these two teams bring me an overwhelming sense of pride, and my hope is that every member of Aztec Warrior Nation is just as proud.