@USAToday

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Hopefully, Now, SDSU Has Learned Its Lesson

Chris Ello
December 07, 2018 - 4:05 am

The game was over the day before it was even played. I knew it as soon as the words escaped Jeremy Hemsley's mouth.

Asked if he was looking forward to the "City Championship" game between his SDSU Aztecs and the USD Toreros on our Gwynn & Chris radio show, the senior guard said "Well, I don't really know if we think about it like it's a city championship. It's just another game."

Not to USD, it wasn't. And there enlies the main reason the Aztecs were sunk. Final score: USD 73, San Diego State 61. The Toreros who hadn't beaten the Aztecs in Viejas Arena since 2000, had beaten them this time. And, after trailing by seven points at halftime, USD had beaten them in dominant fashion, out-scoring their bewildered hosts, 47-28, in the final 20 minutes.

We shouldn't have been bewildered. Here's why:

One team came into the game feeling overlooked and disrespected. The players said as much while they celebrated victory in the visitors locker room. The other team came into the game cocky and with a senese of entitlement. To them, this "City Championship" rivalry was no such thing. Maybe you think things like that when you've won 11 of the last 12 matchups, with the only loss taking place on a windy afternoon at Petco Park three years ago when the wind blew up SDSU's thoughts of a fun promotion.

In the above scenario -- as long as the talent on the two teams is somewhat close to even -- I'll take overlooked and disrespected every time. Especially this time. USD is now 7-2, and perhaps on its way to a special season. The Toreros will get at least two cracks at Gonzaga, the No. 1 team in the nation, this season. Think they'll feel overlooked and desrespected in those games?

Championship teams...heck, just plain old winning teams -- find a way to carry a chip on their shoulders at all times. I remember Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls back in the day somehow finding a way to feel like nobody thought they could win anything -- even as they were winning six titles in eight years.

LeBron James, now with the Los Angeles Lakers, does the same thing. Just give him any reason to feel just the tiniest bit slighted, and he'll slay you. If you don't give him a reason, he'll make one up.

Note to the Aztecs basketball team: learn this lesson. Soon. You're 5-3 and still have some big games coming up. Cal. BYU. Two chances in Mountain West play against No. 6-ranked Nevada. You can still salvage a nice season out of this.

The key is to make yourself believe that nobody thinks you can do it.