Monday, January 30, 2006 | San Diego State men’s basketball fans, watch out. Heed my warning. Pull back on the throttle.

Try not to pull a muscle jumping on the bandwagon – the axles just might snap under you.

Yes, the Aztecs are playing well, I’ll give you that much. All one has to do is examine the record – 13-6 overall, 9-1 at home, 6-1 in Mountain West Conference play – to know that this team is on a roll.

Watch SDSU for just one game, and it’s that obvious. Maybe this team really could be that good. Maybe, just maybe, all the preseason projections and hype and hoopla were spot on.

What with forward Marcus Slaughter dropping double-doubles every night. With guard Brandon “Bottoms” Heath threading three after three. With forward Mohamed Abukar bagging basket after basket.

This team is built on potential and, so far, it’s looked limitless.

But I wouldn’t be so quick to pour your heart and soul into this team.

I, for one, have resisted putting all of my weight behind this Aztec squad. And it’s a lot of weight.

There are just too many glaring inadequacies. There are too many fundamental aspects of the game that are ignored. There are too many weaknesses to be discovered.

Sure, in the MWC – especially this season – those shortfalls might not have been exploited just yet. But they will. And when it happens, that mighty bandwagon might not be able to support you.

First of all, until SDSU cuts down on the turnovers, I won’t be sold.

Against even an above-average team – we’re not talking about Duke here, people, this is the Mountain West Conference – committing 16 turnovers will kill your chances. Luckily for the Aztecs, there aren’t many above-average teams in their conference.

With Danny Granger (New Mexico) now balling for the Indiana Pacers and Andrew Bogut (Utah) manning the middle for the Milwaukee Bucks, the MWC isn’t like it used to be. There’s no imminent threat to SDSU’s domination. It’s all on the Aztecs.

And that’s what worries me.

If SDSU can’t complete a simple bounce pass, how are they going to win the MWC Tournament?

If the Aztecs keep dribbling the ball off their feet, how are they going to win the MWC Tournament?

If they keep fumbling passes, once again, how are they going to win the MWC Tournament?

They won’t if the giveaways keep up.

Just look at what happened to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game: Too many turnovers.

Well, SDSU fans, consider Heath your Jake Plummer. Not a kind comparison.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Even Steve Fisher, the wise old sage that guides the Aztecs, knows how much these momentary lapses in concentration can do to a team.

“We always put up keys to success, and one of our keys of success tonight was our ability to limit the number of turnovers we had during tonight’s game,” Fisher said after last Saturday’s home contest against BYU. “They had 19 turnovers, whereas we had eight. We played smart and didn’t turnover the ball as much as we did during the last game, and without a doubt that made a big difference in the way we played.”

Is it a surprise SDSU won by 27? Not to me, at least.

It’s really just simple mathematics to me. Sound passing equals more possessions equals more attempts equals more points. They don’t call me Einstein for nothing.

But I do think the turnovers are symptomatic of the brand of ball the Aztecs play.

SDSU employs a quick offense that thrives off the boards – easy when Slaughter’s patrolling the post – and then turns it up the court.

If the Aztecs can just learn to stay within themselves, to rely on a teammate finding a way to get open, they’ll have my vote. But, at least for now, my feet are planted on the ground.

The bandwagon can pull to the next station.

John Gold is a sports columnist for Voice. Send him your angry emails, stories or jokes at

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