(Check out Colorado State’s Road to the Sweet 16: Volume 3 here)
Last time we checked in, CSU was preparing for their biggest game of the season to date. A game on the road at Viejas Arena against San Diego State.
Suffice it to say, the Rams did not pass the test...
It was a drubbing of epic proportions. CSU came into this game undefeated, beating potential tournament teams like Saint Mary’s, Creighton, and Mississippi State along the way. Then the nearly month long Covid pause came, which turned into a national ranking, which then turned into a rusty Rams team barely pulling off a win against a depleted and less talented Air Force Falcons team.
So to give you an analogy (because I like analogies), imagine this season as a giant roller coaster.
The Rams strapped in and immediately shot out of the starting gate. They kept going up and up and up, just waiting for that drop. But the ride just kept going up. Eventually they were so high they could look down at pretty much everyone below them. Then on the way up, the ride broke. But it didn’t “break, break.” It was a maintenance issue. A long, insufferable, almost torturous maintenance issue that was starting to ruin what looked like would be a really fun ride. Alas, the ride was fixed and the coaster continued up, even if it was a little bumpy at the restart. Then, just when the ride really started taking off again, and the coaster hit its highest point, the inevitable drop came. You knew it was coming, but were somehow still unprepared for it. It hit hard, made you a little queazy, but you’re already on the way back up knowing that probably won’t be the only unexpected drop on this long and bumpy ride.
That’s been CSU’s basketball season so far in a nutshell.
The 30 point loss to SDSU was bad, there’s no other way to paint it. It was the first Rams opponent since Mississippi State to have serious defensive length. It was also a great learning experience. It was the first true road game of the year for CSU, and it came at a very vulnerable point for them. Coming off the long Covid pause, you could tell the Rams were not themselves. Multiple airballs, stagnation on offense, this was not the same team we had been watching all year. But give credit to SDSU. The Aztecs have been the cream of the crop in Mountain West basketball for the last decade plus, and this game was a great example of why. Great athleticism at all spots on the floor, playmaking ability from their guards, and stifling defense. That’s San Diego State’s MO, and it got the best of CSU that night.
The Rams responded, like good teams do, with a win a few nights later against Utah State.
David Roddy had 24 points, Isaiah Stevens had 22, and CSU held USU star Justin Bean to 14 points on 4-11 shooting. Again, this was not CSU at their best. The offensive rhythm wasn’t there for much of the game, and it was a struggle for the Rams at points, but they came through when it mattered. Roddy and Stevens especially. These two took over down the stretch.
Stevens and Roddy are both tremendous closers. What a luxury— Lute Moss (@lute_moss) January 13, 2022
I would also be remiss not to mention the officiating.
These refs man ♂️— Lute Moss (@lute_moss) January 13, 2022
I don’t necessarily think it was bias towards one side or the other, but my god was it insufferable. USU shot 22 free throws, the Rams shot 20, and both teams were in foul trouble the majority of the game. When the best player on one team (Justin Bean) fouls out with more than a couple minutes left, and the best player on the other team (David Roddy) has 4 fouls with more than 5 minutes left in the game, the product on the court isn’t as good as it should be. I don’t know if it’s a Mountain West thing, or a college basketball thing this year, but the refs need to let them play a little bit. Calling a foul every time someone gets touched completely ruins the flow of the game and makes it tough to watch. It was evident in the CSU-SDSU matchup as well, but that was a blowout so it didn’t change the outcome of the game. I’m not saying it did in this one either, but Utah State and Colorado State fans both had every reason to be upset at the officiating.
LET THE BOYS PLAY.
That’s all I’m going to say about that.
At the end of the day, it was a quality win over a quality opponent. Just what the doctor ordered for a CSU team that had just lost its undefeated record and national ranking.
This last Saturday, the Rams took care of business and beat San Jose State 78-42.
It was a road game...kind of. It was more like a “COVID road game” based on the lack of fans in the stands, but it counts all the same. This was a complete team win, as the high scorer in this one was Dischon Thomas with 14 points. Not much else to say about this one. CSU finally found their offensive groove, albeit against an inferior opponent, but it was important for them to find that rhythm in an actual game, and hopefully this momentum can carry over into their matchup Wednesday night against New Mexico.
Speaking of Wednesday night against New Mexico, it’s the State Pride game!
Also, CSU is finally introducing Jay Norvell to the student body at halftime.
.@CoachJayNorvell wants to see on Wednesday for @CSUMBasketball's #StatePride game‼️— Colorado State Football (@CSUFootball) January 17, 2022
Coach Norvell will also be speaking at halftime so stay in your pic.twitter.com/Do2ISlfj43
Coach Norvell will be looking to bring back some of that excitement to the football program we’ve desperately been missing.
It all starts tonight at Moby Arena @8pm MST on CBS Sports Network (hopefully it doesn’t crash this time...)