Aztecs Barely Healthy Enough to Put Hurt on Cal Poly Pomona
Final examinations are given this week at San Diego State, and this is what basketball Coach Jim Brandenburg should do about it: Assign trainer Mark Haines to pick up whatever books the Aztecs might need throughout the week.
That way, nobody can strain an arm muscle lifting some thick English book. And if Haines would turn the pages, too, nobody would sustain a paper cut. The way things are going for the Aztecs early, a paper cut would lead to an infection, which would linger, and probably cause someone to miss the rest of the season.
SDSU whipped Cal Poly Pomona, 94-78, Saturday night in front of 827 in Peterson Gym, running rampant in the second half after an inauspicious first. It was another step forward for the Aztecs, a night of continued development and learning the meaning of grace under pressure.
It was also another night of pain.
Twenty minutes before game time, freshman guard Chris McKinney, who had started all four previous games, was flat on his back behind the Aztec bench, being worked on by Haines. He had come down with back spasms during SDSU’s afternoon shoot-around.
Sophomore Ray Barefield--who missed practice Friday because he was sick--started in his place, and McKinney joined the club on the SDSU bench: A few seats away from him was guard Arthur Massey, with bone chips in his left ankle and a sprained right ankle. Seated close to Massey was forward Keith Balzer, still weak with the flu.
At least both Massey and Balzer dressed. Thursday against Midwestern State, neither did.
Like McKinney, both Massey and Balzer are starters. But there was nothing to do Saturday except go with three new faces--Barefield and junior James Lewis in the backcourt and junior Nelson Stewart at forward--and hope for the best against Pomona (3-2), a Division II school.
By the second half, McKinney’s back had loosened up, and so did the Aztecs (2-3). After trailing at halftime, 45-44, they scored the first seven points of the second half--and 14 of the first 22--and never trailed again.
“I was really proud of our guys, the way they came back in the second half,” Brandenburg said. “They figured out what it took to be successful, and they did it.”
They did it with a little halftime help from Brandenburg. What did he tell them?
“It was worse than First Live Crew, or whatever,” Brandenburg said.
He was referring to rappers 2 Live Crew, but you don’t always have time to keep up with current musical trends when you feel like you’re running an infirmary.
What happened after halftime was SDSU tightened its defense and got much better movement on offense.
Center Marty Dow scored an SDSU career-high 29 points, surpassing the 24 he had Thursday. Pomona had only three players taller than 6-foot-6, and the Aztecs were able to get the ball inside to the Dow, 7-1, time after time.
Barefield had 15 points, eight rebounds, four steals and five assists. McKinney finished with 14 points, all in the second half.
Pomona led at halftime thanks largely to the play of Terry Ross, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, who made seven of his first 10 shots and had 14 points at the half.
Walk-on Jason Powell had to change his number from to 32 from 22. It seems No. 22 has been retired by SDSU. It was worn by Milton “Milky” Phelps, the Aztecs’ first All-American. Phelps was NAIA honorable mention All-America in 1938-39 and first-team NAIA All-America in 1939-40 and 1940-41.