POPE’S DOCTRINE: Burns makes changes

by publicationarchive

Let me take you back to a time long ago.This was a time before iPods and a time when Flavor Flav was still considered washed-up. It was a time before the Mountain West Conference existed and a time when “Saved by the Bell” was popular in a non-ironic way.It was the mid’90s – Bill Clinton was about to begin his second term in office, John Elway had yet to win a Super Bowl and the San Diego State women’s basketball team completely dominated its conference.From 1992 to 1997, SDSU went 60-12 in Western Athletic Conference play, including two seasons with just one conference loss and one season going undefeated in the WAC.During this stretch, the Aztecs won the regular season conference title three out of five years and were champions in the WAC Tournament twice.SDSU even made it to the NCAA Tournament four times, advancing to the second round in 1994.But following the 1996-97 season, Aztecs head coach Beth Burns left Montezuma Mesa and moved home to coach at Ohio State.The team took an immediate hit, going 4-10 in WAC play in their first year without Burns, one year removed from a 15-1 conference record.For the following nine years, SDSU failed to post a .500 or better record in conference play or overall in any season. The Aztecs didn’t win a single MWC Tournament game and were a perennial league bottom-feeder.But in 2005 Burns returned to SDSU. In just three years she has brought the team from a 3-24 overall record (0-16 in MWC play) in her first season back, to 16-12 (7-9 MWC) this season, with their first real shot at advancing in the MWC Tournament.Burns has also reestablished a strong recruitment for the Aztecs, as the team’s top three scorers this season were first-year players.As the quickest-growing program on campus, why is it that women’s basketball seems to have the biggest problem with attendance?Cox Arena broke 1,000 only twice for the Lady Aztecs, and one of those games was against No. 2 Connecticut.I’m not going to ignore the fact that women’s basketball historically draws fewer fans than men’s at just about every school in the nation, but when a program is experiencing a rebirth like this one, and they can’t even get 500 people to show up for two of the final three home games (Wyoming 408, UNLV 486), there is clearly an issue.SDSU fans have become notorious for feeling sorry for themselves, complaining about the mediocre football team and the underachieving men’s basketball program. So next year, when freshmen Paris Johnson and Allison Duffy and sophomore Jené Morris all have another year’s experience, and the team is competing for the Mountain West title, cynics will have no choice but to put-up or shut-up. Either come support the next great Aztec team or stay at home thinking about the “good ole’ days” of sports on the Mesa.Marshall Faulk is never coming back, and neither is Marcus Slaughter; but Beth Burns did return, and its about time you appreciate what that means for SDSU athletics.

-David Pope is an English sophomore who still wishes he was Zack Morris.

-This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.