I consider myself an expert in all things San Diego State. After all, this is my 6th year on campus (it’s painful to type) and I’ve probably spent about a thousand times more hours at basketball games than I have office hours. In my time we’ve won one regular season MWC Championship, two MWC Tournament Championships, four NIT games and two games against Saint Mary’s. And they’ve beat us three times. I have seen every single one of these games. Two have been in Saint Mary’s. We beat them in 2006 when Brandon Heath, the day after hitting a half court shot at the buzzer to beat Murray State, finished off SMC on a pair of late free throws to win 74-73.
In 2007 we played and lost to the Gaels 69-64 as part of the John Wooden Classic at the Pond in Anaheim.
In 2008 we again played the Gaels in the John Wooden Classic and lost again 67-64.
(On a side note, if you want to know why we lost, then Aztec Power Forward Ryan Amoroso went a combined 2-21 in those two games, getting blocked by the rim on a dunk attempt in both games)
In that same year the Aztecs beat the Gaels in the NIT Quarterfinals in then COX Arena in one of the most memorable Aztec basketball games of the Fisher Era 70-66.
That is where this went down:
Epic I know. We eventually rushed the court (more on this later).
Finally, last year we played Saint Mary’s in Moraga in their gym that would make the one from my high school look tiny. The Aztecs started 3 guys making their Aztec debut (Tyrone Shelley, Malcolm Thomas and Kawhi Leonard), DJ Gay making his first ever start at point guard, and Billy White. Off the bench we had Chase Tapley who was a true freshman, and Kelvin Davis who missed the previous year as he fought and eventually won his battle with cancer. As we can clearly see with all those stars down in Miami, it takes a while for a team to gel and in a Nationally Televised 11pm game on ESPN’s College Hoops Marathon, the Aztecs got blown out 80-58.
So as the teams set to square off for the sixth time in five years, I think it’ safe to say that we have ourselves a rivalry. By pure virtue of what has happened on the court, I think you could call this a rivalry. But it’s what has happened even beyond the final scores that makes me say, second to USD, this is my most hated out of conference team. I hate the Gaels.
Now, I dislike a lot of teams. I don’t like any of the other schools in the Mountain West. But for me the factor that separates teams that I hate from teams that I just generally dislike, are the fans. I loathe BYU fans. They are cocky, they are arrogant, they have a holier than thou attitude, and they are everywhere. Few things have satisfied me more than to walk out of the Thomas and Mac Arena in Las Vegas after sending BYU home and watching the looks of those crushed Cougar fans’ faces. But I digress.
The Saint Mary’s student section is called “Gael Force”. They take up the entire front sideline section of their home court and can get pretty loud in that building they call a gymnasium. In 2006 when Heath sank those free throws to win the game the student section responded with this chant at the end “F— San Diego! *clap, clap…clap,clap,clap*” Which didn’t upset me that much because haters are going to hate and leaving the building victorious was well worth it.
But my disgust for that school started in our home victory in the NIT quarterfinals in 2008. After beating them and rushing the court, Saint Mary’s fat, overrated center Omar Samhan accused our good friend Shirtless Show of punching him in the face as he rushed the court. What ensued made all of us wish that had been the truth. Cops took Shirtless into the depths of Cox Arena, where they interrogated him and then reviewed footage of the court rushing trying to look for evidence. In retrospect, I’m sure it had to be satisfying for Omar Fatman to repeatedly watch our fans storm the court after having ended his season. But at the time Shirtless wasn’t able to experience the joy of our victory. Of course no evidence was found, and as Shirtless walked away Omar uttered a few four letter words his way. Thus began my hatred of Saint Mary’s.
The next year we opened up on the road in Moraga as a part of ESPN’s College Hoops Tip Off Marathon. The same event we saw our Aztecs beat Gonzaga this year in Spokane. Well this game started in Moraga started at 11 PM. That is not a typo. We had the late game. So 8 of us drove up with the intent of immediately driving back after the game through the night to get to class the next morning.
Although the Gael’s stud guard Patty Mills left for the NBA, Omar too-many-Samburgers returned for his senior year. We sat across from the “Gael Force” with our typical assortment of clever posters. “Omar Fatman”, “Epic Fael” to name a few. It had been 3 years since I was last in that gym and apparently the students had grown even less classy. As we witnessed our team attempt to gel on the run against a Gael team that would eventually go on to the Sweet 16, it became clear that we weren’t going to walk out of there with a W. Saint Mary’s couldn’t miss. As evident in this clip:
What made my blood boil however, was the treatment we received from these students from a supposedly moral catholic school. Every time I looked at that students section, I got the finger from dozens of students. Some other students came up and tried to steal our signs, and as we punked them and told them to go away, security came by and took them and said they were offensive. Never mind the fact that thousands of fans were chanting “F— San Diego” at every break in the game. Apparently that’s ok.
But we’re classy (except when we play BYU). And we stayed mellow throughout the night. As we were walking to our car to enjoy our eight and a half hour drive home through the night back to San Diego, the students continued to curse us out. Then they had the nerve to call our
beloved…unique friend…accomplice Geckshow a frog. When we responded “Learn your animal kingdom, it’s a gecko” the Saint Mary’s student tried to pick a fight with all eight of us and it resulted in his dismissal by a cop.
This Wednesday, nothing would make me happier than to beat those punks from Moraga and just envision the thousands of Saint Mary’s students upset at their team’s failure. Hell I hope a few even make the trip down south to watch the game. So I can personally shove it in their stupid, Australian loving faces. With Class of course. We Show members don’t do it any other way. (Except of it’s BYU)
So as we take on Saint Mary’s on our own court Wednesday. Let’s remember that this isn’t just a random WCC opponent. This is team whom in recent history has kicked us around a little bit. But we are the better team. We are the better student section. And last I checked, we have more Americans. Screw Koala Bears, Kangaroos, Outback Steakhouse and Fosters Beer. Let’s beat Saint Mary’s.