On Wednesday, Showman and I hit up our first SDSU Aztecs basketball game of the season against the New Mexico Lobos. That would be the 6th ranked in the nation SDSU Aztecs. If you’ve been living under a rock, you may not know that the Aztecs are 26-1 with the best record in the nation and currently having the best season in school history. I know it’s easy for San Diegans to complain about not getting enough national coverage, but the reality is…the selection committee will respect us. Under the leadership of Steve Fisher, and on the backs of Kawhi Leonard, Malcolm Thomas and DJ Gay, the Aztecs have transformed San Diego into a college basketball town. It’s friggin’ nuts around here with all the hype and talk about this team. Fresh off an epic end of season collapse by the San Diego Padres and the Chargers missing the playoffs, SDSU really needed to step up. After the Brady Hoke led Aztecs football team put up a solid year, winning a bowl game, the basketball team has taken that momentum and sprinted with it. Wednesday night was yet another sellout crowd of 12,414 at Viejas Arena, or the “Madhouse on the Mesa” as the students would say.
Ah, yes, the students. There’s a ton of media outlets that can give you the play by play of the game…telling you all about how huge Malcolm Thomas was or how the Aztecs finally started to hit some free throws down the stretch. Those are important, especially since we beat New Mexico, who has beaten Jimmer Fredette’s BYU this year, our only loss. We, however, are NOT one of those media outlets. We’d like to give you a glimpse at the game inside the game. That game is called “The Show.”
Before getting into the experience of this game, you have to know a little background about The Show, so we spent some time with Trevor Bishop, a recent December SDSU grad and one of the few ringleaders behind this current group of students representing The Show. “The Show started in 2001, when Fisher had his first competitive team, about 12 dudes started coming to games and sitting right behind the basket. Using influences from the WWE, soccer and whatever else, they would dress in crazy costumes and heckle opposing players and coaches. This has grown into what now is a sold out student section full of people encouraged to be as crazy and creative as possible. I got involved in 2004, during the Aztecs 2nd NCAA tourney run under Fisher, I met the guys in Salt Lake City during the NCAA first round and we became friends. So I decided to sit in the first couple rows with them the next year and the rest is history.” Oh, and don’t think that coach Steve Fisher hasn’t noticed. He was quoted in the San Diego Union Tribune as saying, “They are sensational,” said the head coach. “They’ve created an atmosphere that makes it fun for others to watch, wondering what they’re going to do tonight, wondering what chant they’re going to have; what somebody’s going to look like; what big head they’re going to throw up. They’re more than a sixth man. That group has created a home-court advantage for us. They are invaluable to us.”
Here is a picture taken by my phone from our seats where we started the game…this is full zoom…hardly the rockstar treatment that we clearly deserve. From tipoff, we found ourselves as intrigued with The Show as we were the actual game on the court. Like hundreds of student sections before them, they have a goal… and their goal is to get inside the head of the opponent. Well, we needed to experience this first hand. So, at halftime, we went to the court and were greeted with high fives left and right from The Show. Fun group of students. Here’s what our view looked like once we joined The Show.
The second half had the Lobos offense coming toward The Show which meant the real fun would begin. Inspired by both ESPN’s PTI Show with Wilbon and Kornheiser, as well as the awful movie BASEketball…The Show began combining the ‘psych-out’ technique with giant cardboard cutouts of random well-known faces that they would use while the opposing teams shot free throws. Here’s a little background from Trevor when I asked him about his favorite “face”. “I used to always have Borat but now, I think I appreciate the Bieber, and the Brian Carlwell vampire… I also think John Stamos is awesome. But I love the GIANT Woody from Toy Story. It’s fun to tell opposing players, ’Stop looking at my giant woody!’.” Classic. Here’s a distance shot we got of one Lobos free throw attempt… tough to make out all the faces, but you get the idea.
They are getting good at this. From all accounts, The Show has grown this year… not just size, but in wit. Their demeanor has changed. Their insults are clever. What was once shooting from the hip, profanity laden mockeries that could be applied to most any player on an opposing team… is now pointed insults to specific players.
We live in a world of Facebook and Twitter, and oh how that world is going to be used against you if you come to play at the Madhouse and you aren’t wearing Aztec black, red and white. They will follow you on Twitter and friend you on Facebook and they will pull anything they can to use against you. We asked Trevor about their favorite player to heckle, and the answer this year won’t really surprise you. “We love to hate on Jimmer, and try to rattle him, and hopefully this year we’ll have some success with all the things we have planned. We also gave Trevon Willis a ton of crap about him being arrested for choking a girl which included a huge sign with his mug shot, police record and the words ‘Choke Artist’. That was fun.” When I asked him how he felt they compared to the more popular student sections across the nation, such as the Cameron Crazies, he said, “We are different and we like it that way. We aren’t a section based in uniformity but rather on creativity.” He nailed it. Creativity. I loved being down there and listening to these guys. Hysterical. They are just fun. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and they are having a blast. Here are a few pictures that I took, as well as a few pictures of The Show that I jacked from their blog.
Wow, it wasn’t until I posted that last picture that I put together Showman/The Show nickname correlation. Rad. As for Jason Sitek and Trevor Bishop, thanks for taking the time to chat with us and let us feel like college kids again. It was a fantastic night. We only scratched the surface on The Show with this post. They have really stepped up their game, and when I asked about that, Trevor responded, “We also print out around 1500 flyers for the students before almost every game. These include trash talk and dirt for opposing players, new chants, upcoming events and other useful information. We also have a website created this year called TheShowSDSU.com Where there is a section on Lore, Gameday, Message Board, a blog and Media section.” Go check out their website… like I said, these guys have come a long way. Read about how their giant cardboard faces have become commonplace at schools across the nation.
Oh yeah, as for you Jimmer…you are insanely talented, and it’s between you and Kemba Walker for Player of the Year, but dude… I’m not even kidding, I’m worried for you. With minutes left in the New Mexico game, The Show was already chanting, “We Want Jimmer!” Tickets go on sale Friday, Feb 25th at 4pm for students. They intend to get in line at 6am for the tickets… ON THURSDAY. What’s that, like, 34 hours of waiting? Wrong. That’s 34 hours of planning. You probably think you’ve heard it all on the road, dude. You haven’t. The Show knows that you’re gonna be bringing your ‘A’ game… so will they. Consider yourself warned, BYU… because SDSU has something to prove when you come into town…and so does The Show.