Welcome to the Preview of Hate, a wildly popular preview column profiling the Colorado State Rams athletic programs. Each preview, this column will dive into the upcoming games on the schedule with facts about the teams the Rams face, the cities they visit, and the culture surrounding them.
This week, I’ve decided to profile the upcoming Mountain West conference championship game as Colorado State travels to Reno to take on the Nevada Wolf Pack in men’s basketball.
It’s an unofficial conference championship game, but the teams are tied for first and the winner is the champion. So, it’s a championship game. That’s how this works, guys.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Preview of Hate I want to first off ask where you’ve been and second I will explain how this works.
For basketball, I’ll be previewing two “Hemispheres of Hate”, one hemisphere I will talk about the game, the matchups, and the championship on the line. The second hemisphere I will roast Reno, Nevada. Which will be easy, I don’t think I’ve had an easier time roasting a city since I had to preview Laramie.
Well, without further ado, let’s hop into the Hemispheres.
Let’s start by saying how absolutely insane it is that Colorado State is even here.
There are seven (7!) players in the rotation for Colorado State right now. That means players like Gian Clavell, Prentiss Nixon, and J.D. Paige are playing nearly every minute of every game. This isn’t Larry Eustachy’s choice by the way, this is literally what he’s left with. This team should not be here. Che Bob, Devoicio Butler, and Kimani Jackson were all suspended in January for academic reasons. Gian Clavell was arrested in November. A report surfaced that Eustachy was nearly fired in 2014 for anger issues that forced some players to transfer and some coaches to resign. There is nothing in that formula that points to Colorado State playing for a conference championship. Yet, here they are.
This team is confusing. By no means are they great, by no means should they be where they are. But doesn’t that make this all the more special? This is, in it’s own weird way, part of the reason we love sports. That despite all the missteps, all the rocks that should’ve stopped this team, they’re right here playing to win the program’s first Mountain West championship in basketball. I’m in no place to comment on what should’ve happened to Gian Clavell or Larry Eustachy. I can only comment on what is happening and what is happening is a team overcoming their own issues to win basketball games.
Whether or not you believe this should be happening is up to you, but it is happening. There is something special about that. There is something real about not only overcoming the adversity of others but also your own failures. When we talk about resiliency we always talk about people pushing forward against a cruel, uncaring world. But this is a team pushing forward against itself. None of the setbacks can be blamed on anyone but themselves, there is no “adversity” here that couldn’t have been avoided. The CSU Rams shouldn’t be here and that would only be their own fault if they weren’t. But they are here. Against their own demons, they are here. A far cry from my freshman year when the program looked listless and disastrous, a 7-25 season that is only ten short years ago.
This is insanity, this shouldn’t be happening.
It’s been 10 years since the Wolfpack played in an NCAA tournament. During their WAC days, Nevada spent the early aughts as a powerhouse of the conference. Championships from 2004-2008, tournament victories in 2004, 2005, and 2007, and a sweet sixteen run in 2004. Nevada’s program has been steadily building to this, a return to past glory.
Nevada is more of a typical mid major at this point, senior led (2 of their top 3 scorers are seniors) and slowly built. But players like D.J. Fenner and Marcus Marshall offer difficult matchups for CSU’s guards and Marshall vs. Clavell may be an ultimate matchup of two of the most premiere guards in the conference.
This game should put CSU’s defense, which ranks second in the conference, to the ultimate test. Nevada shoots the 3, can grab offensive rebounds, and can overall score better than anyone else CSU has faced in conference this season. Nevada can wear the rotation down and maybe CSU finally gets tired.
Or maybe not, I don’t know. I’m just guessing for the most part. It’s all any of us do. CSU could continue this magical run, Clavell could take yet another game over and the Rams could walk into their first Mountain West title on some kind of magic carpet ride that won’t end until they’re cutting down nets. This entire run, hell, this entire season has made me put away logic and start to believe in anything. So, who knows?
Boy, oh boy. What is there to say about Reno?
The self proclaimed Biggest Little City in the World is home to at least one mediocre casino and for some reason, a gold DeLorean.
Pictured: The reason some people need better hobbies
I’ve been to Reno exactly one (1) time in my entire life. During this time in Reno I ate a horrible hamburger, took a cold shower, and saw over 15 senior citizen women smoking more than one cigarette at a time (a true talent).
Some would call Reno “Fake Vegas” but I think that’s Atlantic City. Reno is more like if Vegas woke up one day and decided they didn’t like anything good about their city so they just shipped out all the young, sexy people and replaced them with old smoking women and biker gangs that aren’t allowed to go into Vegas due to “dealer complaints”. It’s like that casino in Vegas Vacation but instead of games of rock, paper, scissors it’s just long lines for cigarettes and 100 Wizard of Oz slot machines for some reason.
Basically, what Reno is known for is a comedy police show and a football team that invented a new offense. Which is fine, I guess, if you’re into that kind of thing.
I went to Reno’s website and looked at their “Things to Do” page and one of the “Things to Do” is a historic tour of Reno’s alleyways. There’s a list of numbered alleys to visit in Reno.
Ah yes, I do love alleys. Especially when they’re old. Old alleyways are actually where I met my wife. We were in a knife fight and then realized we actually were in love. You know, that classic alleyway love story that Reno is famous for.
I don’t want to be too negative, Reno’s a great fifth choice if you’re planning on vacationing in Nevada! Who would want to miss the alleyways or the cigarettes? I can’t undersell this place enough, folks.
★ ★ ★
Rams by 3.
Mountain West Champs.
Next week, the PoH takes on the Mountain West tourney.