Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Stay Classy USD!!!...Chris Ello, Mar. 19

Quick difference between the sports programs at the University of San Diego and San Diego State...Classy move by USD's Athletic Director Ky Snyder (always remembering he is at heart, an Aztec) to allow SDSU to play it's second-round NIT game Friday night on his campus at the Jenny Craig Pavillion.

The Aztecs were stuck because Cox Arena is being used all weekend for the NCAA Women's Tournament (more below)...Without Snyder's good will, Steve Fisher and company would have had to travel to Kansas State, thereby forfeiting their home-court advantage....

Nicely done, Ky...

Oh...and about SDSU...word is that the Aztecs were willing to give away their second-round game....unitl Fisher himself stepped in and demanded that the NIT find a way for the second-round game to be played in San Diego....Never mind that the SDSU Athletic Department apparently felt that it had exhausted all options.

Fisher and the NIT -- working with Snyder -- got the job done, so that SDSU could play in front of its home fans....

A birdie told me that some felt the Aztecs' heirarchy were too quick to give away the game because the second-round opponent was likely to be Kansas State (which it is)...Don't know why that would be...but SDSU Athletic Director Jeff Schemmel is a K-State alum.


Anyway....the bottom line is that USD does things right...San Diego State has to start doing things right.

Speaking of USD, everything with its men's basketball program suddenly has gone all wrong...It was just one year ago that I was sitting in a Mexican restaurant in Arizona, munching some chips and guacamole, when De'Jon Jackson hit the shot the toppled UConn in the first round of the NCAA Tournament....The restaurant in Arizona went wild.

Me included....Though like Ky Snyder, I'll always be an Aztec at heart, it was wonderful to finally see a team from San Diego come through on the national stage (quick, tell me the last time that happened).

But this year has been a mess for the Toreros....first guard Brandon Johnson suffers a devastating knee injury that takes him out for the season...then Trumaine Johnson gets kicked off the team...then, with the WCC Tourney no longer in San Diego, they get wiped out quickly by Santa Clara in the forward Rob Jones says he wants to transfer so he can be closer to his ailing father (nothing wrong with that).

But unfortunately, that USD win over UConn now seems like it was a long, long time ago...and getting back to that stage for Coach Bill Grier and crew seems like it is a long, long ways away.

So...this college basketball postseason belongs to San Diego State...and especially to Beth Burns' women's team...A bit more than a year ago, SDSU was awarded with hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament at Cox Arena for 2009...It was at that moment, the young Aztecs made it their goal to be there.

And so now they have accomplished that goal....this Saturday at 5 p.m. SDSU (seeded 10th in the Berkely Regional) will meet 7th-seeded DePaul in the women's Big Dance...not bad for a program that went 0-and-16 in conference play just three years ago.

Burns' team went 14-and-0 at Cox this season...and to remind her squad of their home-court dominance, T-Shirts were purchased for the players last week with "OUR HOUSE" printed on the front and "14-AND-0" printed on the back.

Led by super-athletic guards Quenese Davis and Jene' Morris, and 6-foot, 4-inch center Paris Johnson (all underclassmen), the Aztecs are maybe a year ahead of schedule...But they might just be precocious enough to believe they can advance Saturday night.

It wouldn't hurt the cause, of course, if the San Diego fans would come out and are still available, and this club deserves a solid crowd of at least 6,000 for the big event.

And then there was the big event that just finished up in San Diego...the World Baseball Classic at Petco Park...Japan (the defending WBC champs) and Korea (the defending Olympic Gold Medalists) advanced to the finals...I tell you this, because I'm figuring very few of you were paying much attention.

Despite Mexico's inclusion in the field (the U.S. team played its 2nd-round series in Miami), the crowds at Petco looked like a Padres-Nationals game in late August. (Though the fans that were there were far more spirited).

Bottom line: San Diego sports fans don't like it when their teams and their city are overlooked and forgotten about...but when the fans overlook and forget about big events...well, as the old saying goes, you are what you are (thanks, A.J.).


  1. My problem with the WBC was this: you've got a bunch of games which pop up out of nowhere and start at 8pm. If you're not a fan or ex-pat of Mexico/Cuba/Japan/Korea, why would you pay big bucks to freeze your butt off at Petco Park for a game which is going to START at 8pm and end sometime around midnight?

  2. You both make excellent points regarding the WBC.

    But what if the games began at 5:30 pm and it was unseasonably warm? Would San Diegans show up? I think the answer to that, unfortunately, is found in Chris' last paragraph.