When SDSU was ranked in the first top 25 poll of the season Steve Fisher was quick to point out that the Aztecs had a tough schedule awaiting them. Coach Fisher continually made a point to the press, that any evaluation of how good the Aztecs might be should be held off until at least December 9th, the day after the Aztecs’ visit to Cal. Looking forward to this game, confidence was high among the Aztecs faithful, and that confidence showed in the turnout of Aztecs fans in Berkeley on a rainy evening in December.
As this member of The Show, and his companions, approached the Berkeley area the smug could be sensed thick in the air. “Charming” boutique restaurants and shops line the streets of the college town. For dinner our group of fans chose the restaurant Jupiter . As we strolled to our table, the pompous patrons of the restaurant sneered at us, in our Aztecs gear. I didn’t get the sense that they disliked the Aztecs so much as they disliked sports in general. In fact one might get the feeling that these people are scarcely aware that Cal has a basketball team. It was while dining at Jupiter that secondHALFshow made his prophetic tweet.
The__Show It’s raining in Berkeley right now. That just means Rahon and Co. will be making it rain 3’s inside Haas Pavilion tonight. -secondHALFshow
After enjoying some pizza and beer we headed up the hill to the Pavilion. The fans Cal does have were decked out in their best game day gear. In Berkeley game day gear means knitted cardigans, bow ties, and wool scarves. Haas Pavilion is reminiscent of the Big West gyms I’ve visited in my time as an Aztecs fan. The court is housed in a box of an arena, and bench seats abound. While inside one might estimate the capacity to be in the 8,000 range, however the building can amazingly house 11,877. Attending a game in this facility gave me a new appreciation for the luxuries we enjoy at Viejas Arena. Aztecs fans are truly blessed with our impressive video scoreboard, which hangs over center court. Another perk the Aztecs enjoy is a sizable student section. The student section at Cal is known as The Bench, it runs along courtside, and has room for up to 900 students to watch the game. Like many student sections around the country, The Bench is largely homogeneous, with each fan clothed in a navy blue t-shirt. According to Wikipedia The Bench prides itself on standing the whole game. In other words, The Bench prides itself on being like any another generic student section.
No more than 5 minutes after entering Haas Pavilion a Bear fan attempted to silence us Aztecs fans. Well, The Show does not back down when opposing fans want to banter. As the Aztecs headed to the locker room my accomplice, secondHALFshow, pointed out to the Bear fans what a ranked team looks like. This uppity Cal fan directed us to “take a seat,” and informed us that “this is Cal’s house.” My fellow Show-member rebutted that “tonight this is our Haas.” No one likes us, we don’t care!
Cal’s implements of school pride and pep are interesting to say the least. Some Aztecs fans have expressed displeasure with the Aztecs’ new kid friendly mascot Zuma. Well friends, be thankful we do not have to endure Oski. Oski, the Cal mascot, resembles anything but a bear. One might have mistaken the mascot for a representation of a chipmunk, or perhaps a sloth. Further, as I watched the game I wondered why Cal even has a cheerleading squad. All of Cal’s cheers were led by three members of what must be UC-B’s Glee Club. These three enthusiasts were uniformed in khaki pants, with button up shirts and ties. As I mentioned before, this is typical game day attire in Berkeleytown. To their credit, they were able to get the aloof Berkeleyan scholars riled up on occasion. Nevertheless, they are no match for our own Chet, who is able to single-handedly enthuse an entire sold out Viejas Arena. The most common chant invoked by these devotees was “Cal-i-forn-ia” clap, clap-clap, clap, clap. I think it’s nice that they welcome fellow Californians into their home in such a manner.
So on to the game. The first half was exciting as the Aztecs felt sympathy for the Cal Cubs, and decided not to blow them out right away. And cubs is an appropriate description for this edition of the Cal Bears. The Bears are the defending Pac 10 champs, but they lost several key contributors from the 09-10 team. This team starts two freshman and just one senior. Though, one of said freshman is Allen Crabbe, the successor to Kawhi Leonard as the California High School Mr. Basketball.
The opening half was highlighted by James Rahon’s three consecutive makes on 3-point attempts, thus fulfilling The Show’s prophecy that the Riders of Rahon would make it rain. The Aztecs would finish the game 10-22 from behind the arc (45%). In the first half the Aztecs had an opportunity to blow the game open when they possessed a 28-20 lead and the ball. Unfortunately the Aztecs couldn’t hold on to it, and Cal scored 6 points to end the half.
During the intermission a few Cal fans attempted to supplant these members of The Show from the seats we had invaded. The professorly Berkeleyites were no match for the savvy of The Show. This was not our first expedition into enemy territory, and it will not be the last. We held our ground and kept our seats.
The second half was an exercise that Aztecs fans may be becoming accustomed to these days. Perhaps worn down by SDSU’s depth, the Bears couldn’t keep up as the Aztecs ran them off the floor. San Diego State shot a blistering 71% in the half, and scored 49 points, just 8 fewer than Cal totaled for the entire game. This run fired up the impressive turnout of Aztecs fans. During one timeout in the second half, chants of “Let’s Go Aztecs” filled Haas Pavilion. These cheers from Aztec Warrior Nation were the loudest of any crowd noise heard throughout the night.
Here are pictured just a few of the many sections of Aztecs fans.
And here are the sad faces of the defeated Bears fans as they exit the gym, in order to beat the traffic.
So going back to Steve Fisher’s comments about evaluating this team… perhaps no one can put it better than DJ Gay. “We’ve proven that we have a very good team. The potential for this team is endless. We’re going to be as good as we want to be…”
As I bring this entry to a close, I’d like to thank feartheshow and his beautiful fiancee for welcoming secondHALFshow and I into their beautiful home during this road trip. I would also like to make a recommendation. If you’re ever in Sacramento and wish to dine on the finest meats and cheeses, you should check out Roxie Deli & Grocery. http://www.yelp.com/biz/roxie-deli-and-grocery-sacramento
Finally, never forget that YOU ALL ARE THE SHOW. Feel free to post your road trip (or home game) pictures on the Show Sdsu facebook page wall, be sure to tag yourself and Show Sdsu. facebook.com/wearetheshow