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Road to the Sweet 16: CSU Men’s Basketball

A reoccurring segment looking into Colorado State’s pursuit of their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1969

I have a bold prediction:

The Colorado State Men’s Basketball program will reach the Sweet 16 in the next 2 years.

Over the course of the next 2 season’s I will update you on CSU’s journey into one of the top basketball programs in the country. There will be ups and downs, but one thing I am certain of: By the end of David Roddy, Isaiah Stevens, Dischon Thomas, and John Tonje’s senior season, CSU’s basketball program, under Niko Medved, will have played a game in the Sweet 16.

Why am I so confident you ask?

Blind optimism I suppose...

Or, and hear me out, as someone who watches college basketball religiously, I’m confident in my ability to sniff out a program’s rise when I see one. So let’s make one thing clear. CSU Men’s Basketball is on the rise. And for Colorado State fans and alumni, it’s going to be glorious. Not only because a promising young college basketball team is an awesome thing to root for, but also because the pain CSU’s Football Program has inflicted on fans like me in the last decade has been excruciating. Colorado State fans deserve a winning a program, and I’m happy to report that Niko Medved is giving that to them.

With such high aspirations comes even higher expectations. So going into CSU’s first game of the season last night, playing in front of fans at Moby Arena for the first time in nearly 2 years, there was a palpable sense of curiosity about how our boys were going to perform against Oral Roberts, a Sweet 16 team last year, amidst the sky high expectations placed on them by the Fort Collins community and beyond.

And perform they did.

With about 5 minutes left in the first half, CSU decided right then and there they were going to dominate Oral Roberts the rest of the way.

It was incredibly fun to watch.

By the end of the game CSU had shot 58.9% from the field, 45.8% from 3, and had put up 109 points.

They held Max Abmas, widely considered one of the 25 best players in all of college basketball, to 8-22 shooting and only 20 points (he averaged nearly 25 last year).

Junior guard John Tonje took a grown-man’s leap. He put up 31 points on 10-14 shooting, and looked every bit like the best player on the floor. Here’s a steal and slam, just one of his many impressive plays of the night:

Tonje also had an incredible cross court skip pass that you can find at about the 2:05 mark here:

An unbelievable development for a team that already had two Pre-Season 1st Team All Mountain West players in David Roddy and Isaiah Stevens.

The craziest stat of the night has to be this: If Roddy and Stevens didn’t score any points the entire game, CSU still would have won by 9. That’s called depth.

You know who else took a leap last night?

Junior Forward/Center Dischon Thomas.

Despite coming off the bench due to matchup reasons, Thomas put up a healthy 16 points on 7-10 shooting, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.

As I mentioned earlier, all 4 of these guys (Thomas, Tonje, Roddy, and Stevens) have something in common. They’re all Juniors.

Some other performances of note:

Senior guard Chandler Jacobs looked every bit of what CSU was hoping for when they got him out of the transfer portal (beating out Texas Tech) this past offseason. His smooth jumper contributed 15 points on 6-6 shooting (2-2 from 3).

Sophomore guard Isaiah Rivera, who Coach Medved has raved about, had 8 points on 3-4 shooting. Continuing the trend of high efficiency scoring from CSU.

Freshman guard Jalen Lake also had 8 points, while Sophomore James Moors had 4.

The only somewhat downer of the night is when starting guard, and one of 3 seniors on this year’s squad, Kendle Moore went down with what looked like a minor knee sprain. We’ll know more details about the injury in days to come.

Overall, it was one hell of an effort in Fort Collins from the boys in Green and Gold.

Continue to follow along on CSU’s road to the Sweet 16. An expectation that I, and I alone, have placed on them.

Next up: Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions, 11/12 @ 8:00 PM MST