Men’s hoops doesn’t deserve the plank

by Staff

So the San Diego State men’s basketball team loses its only legitimate center.

So it hasn’t been able to figure out the zone defenses that have produced three straight conference losses.

So it has trouble attracting more than 3,000 fans to home games, making the San Diego Sports Arena look like a welcome-home rally for O.J. Simpson in Brentwood.

I’m here to tell you it doesn’t mean a thing.

Sure, losing sucks, but losing with no direction, guidance or end in sight sucks even more (hmm … the name Jim Brandenburg comes to mind).

When the proverbial ship is sinking, a real captain goes down with it, right?

Consider SDSU well-equipped with the right captain because Aztecs head coach Fred Trenkle will get them out of this rut. Granted, the red and black ship known as the men’s basketball team isn’t submerged in the Western Athletic Conference deep seas just yet. But with only two spots below its current sixth-place standing, it better be careful.

This week SDSU travels to the transplanted “Shark Tank” in raisin country to lock up with the Bulldogs of Fresno State, followed by a date at San Jose with an improving Spartan club.

Although the Aztecs were standing tall with an 11-3 record just 10 days ago, they could come home Sunday with an 11-8 record just as quickly as Admissions and Records can put a test hold on your registration.

As much as test holds can be a major headache for any student wanting to register for classes, it can’t be as painful as watching your season go down the drain. Just ask Tye Fields.

Redshirting last season because he transferred from Oral Roberts University, Fields was SDSU’s only real inside force this season. Coincidentally or not, Fields had one of his more productive games with 17 points and seven rebounds.

It wasn’t nearly enough because SDSU lost by 22. But if I were Pete Rose, I would bet the Aztecs won’t receive a repeat performance from the five spot the rest of the season.

What did Trenkle have to say?

“Tye’s been solid for us all season, but we’ve got other people that can play,” he said. “We’ve just got to buckle up and get it done.”

If there’s any bellyaching going on, it’s not happening at Montezuma Mesa. Trenkle won’t have it.

He inherited a program from Tony Fuller in 1994 with little to build on. Admittedly, no one knew guard Chad Nelson would turn out as good as he is, so it can be argued that Trenkle came here with nothing to build on.

He immediately restored some pride in the program by leading SDSU to a first-round victory over Fresno in the WAC tournament in 1995. Last year he directed the first winning season for SDSU since the 1984-85 season.

This man has a history of not panicking when things are getting tough as well. I know all of you who’ve seen him on the sidelines looking like he’s ready to jump out of his skin would disagree, but he really doesn’t get frazzled under pressure.

Constantly having to overhaul his roster as head coach at the College of Southern Idaho because it was a two-year school, Trenkle compiled a truly unbelievable record of 329-34. Simply put, he got it done.

After losing four starters from last season’s squad, he recruited harder than any of those blue suits in Aztec Center. In a matter of days, he signed point guard Jason Richey, guard/forward Kevin Betts, forward Jacobi Thompson, forward-turned-center Stephen Clark and forward Roy Kruiswyk.

All contributors. All right away.

There were only 1,500 spectators at the first home game vs. UC Irvine. Now, twice as many people are going to the games.

And the Aztecs were finally hitting their outside shots against the zone defense in practice Monday.

Hey, at least these guys don’t cherry-pick. They give it their all every night. They must lead the nation in floor burns, but they don’t hang their heads.

Relax, SDSU basketball fans. The ship is still on the victory course. Besides, this is a hell of a lot better than the “so famous, they’re infamous” 2-26 team of 1991-92.

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