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CSU Twitter Final Four

April 8, 2020

Looks like recency bias has produced the following four players to compete for the title of CSU’s Twitter Poll All-time best basketball player: Jason Smith, Dorian Green, Gian Clavell, and Nico Carvacho.

Dorian Green after the 2013 win over SDSU

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with the concept of recency bias. Especially when it comes to CSU Basketball as I didn’t live in Fort Collins when many of the greats of the past plied their trade in both Moby Arena and the old field house on College Avenue. I know players like Bill Green and Lonnie Wright were amazing players back in the day. I just have no frame of reference.

I do have a lot of recent history with this final four, seeing virtually every home game and several of their away games over their CSU careers. I’ve also gotten to know them all a little bit on a personal level which makes it hard to pick one over another. I do believe that these are the best four players over the last 15 years of CSU Men’s Basketball.

First, let me begin by saying that there is no wrong answer picking the best of these four. They all had All-MWC careers and all of them are well-represented in the CSU Record Book.

Gian Clavell delivered one of the most amazing performances in a road win at San Diego State in 2017. 37 points that featured several circus shots, including the game winner. Everybody knew he was going to get the ball and he weaved his way full court through the entire Aztec team before finishing off the glass left-handed. Just one of many great games on his way to being named MWC Player of the Year.

Gian and I at Canvas Stadium

Jason Smith ended his Moby Arena career his junior year with a huge win over Wyoming with an amazing 28 point, 22 rebound performance where he virtually fouled out all 4 of the Wyoming bigs. MWC Freshman of the Year, followed by two All-MWC First Team awards. First round NBA draft pick and a 12-year career in the league.

Jason Smith at Moby for HOF Induction Weekend
Nico and I after the 2020 UNLV Orange-Out win

Nico Carvacho with a 4-year career where he became the MWC’s all-time leader in rebounds and double-doubles. His best game probably came on the road against UNLV against whom he delivered 28 and 20 in 2019. He’ll also be remembered as one of the most popular players because of his warm personality.

Dorian Green started all but one game in his four-year career. His best game was a 36-point effort, including 8-10 from beyond the arc, at Northern Colorado where I had the pleasure of sitting next to his dad. He didnt win MWC Freshman of the Year because his class included SDSU’s Kawhi Leonard and BYU’s Tyler Haws.

Dorian and dad

Ultimately, my vote will go to Dorian Green. Not because his individual stats are the best. I’ll vote for him because in his four-year career at CSU he led the Rams into four consecutive post-season tournaments. CBI in 2010, NIT in 2011, and NCAA At-Large bids in 2012 and 2013. Dorian scored 26 in CSU’s only NCAA Tournament win in this century. From the moment he arrived in Fort Collins, Dorian played as if he was elevated three feet off the floor, seeing everything from a different perspective. Best of the best in my book.

Rams Drub Falcons 87-74 on Senior Day

March 1, 2020

Nothing on the line for either team in terms of their position in the MWC standings. But plenty on the line in search of their 20th regular season win, a rivalry game,and a day when they were saying goodbye to their three seniors. And of course an important Crackers Front Range League tilt.

Hyron and Kris post-game

And the Rams made sure the visitors from Colorado Springs felt their wrath as they came out of the gate fast and furious, establishing a double-digit lead before the clock struck 10 minutes, a lead they would never relinquish.

Nico post-game

The Rams trailed 8-4 early but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. They were flying around defensively, getting into passing lanes, deflecting passes but their efforts were going to naught as somehow the ball was still finding its ways into Falcon hands who converted into an 8-4 lead.

And then it happened.

The Rams unleashed a 19-2 run that rendered the Falcons wingless as the ball started to find their hands defensively, they ran the floor hard, and found their shooting form. A three-ball from senior Kris Martin gave the Rams their first lead at 9-8, Adam Thistlewood came off the bench to tickle the twine on a trailing three in transition from Timnath (thats alliteration folks!), and Kendle Moore concluded the run with his first three of the game after a pair of offensive rebounds by John Tonje.

The scoreboard read 23-10 and the Falcons never threatened again as the Rams crisply executed their offensive sets, led by freshman guard Isaiah Stevens but supported by an entire selfless crew. Stevens would finish the game with 7 assists. For the game, the Rams assisted on 25 of their 29 field goals, an incredibly high assist percentage of 86%.

The players were clicking and the crowd was roaring, ready to celebrate their seniors as they led by 18 with 4 minutes remaining.

And then Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich happened. His team had been outclassed the entire game but he wasnt going to allow the home team and fans to enjoy it. A series of fouling and timeouts took all of the air and energy out of the gym. The Falcons never got closer than 8 but it didn’t stop the Falcons from fouling Nico Carvacho 60’ from the ball and completely away from the play. Some people would call it fighting until the very end. Others would call it disrespecting the game.

It made for an awkward final seconds as CSU coach Niko Medved wanted to get his seniors Carvacho, Martin, and Edwards a final round of applause but could only get them into the game together with 17 seconds remaining. A timeout with 6 seconds remaining and the seniors would leave the Moby court as victors in their final home game to a loud and appreciative ovation.

Kendle Moore lead 5 Rams in double figures, all of his 21 points coming on 7-11 shooting from beyond the arc. Stevens would finish with 14 and 7, David Roddy with 14 along with 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Carvacho had 12 and Thistlewood 11 off the bench as he ceded his starting role in respect to senior Kris Martin. The Falcons were led by senior LaVelle Scottie who finished with 20.

Other Stuff

Kendle Moore missed his first two attempts from beyond the arc. He then proceeded to make 6 in a row. A miss and another make and next thing you know he had a career-high seven bombs. His performance was enough to make him the conference leader in Effective Field Goal% (62.9%) and Three Point Shooting % (45.9%) in MWC games.

Of course I gave him some crap after the game because he had Air Force all spread out when he missed that attempt at 7 consecutive makes. I told him he should have given them a shot fake and delivered his patented flying and spinning finish at the rim. He smiled at me and said two words. “Heat Check”.

Nico Carvacho, Hyron Edwards, and Kris Martin successfully concluded their CSU careers with an emphatic victory. Carvacho will be remembered the the All-time MWC leader in rebounds and double-doubles and in all likelihood a CSU Hall off Fame career. Just as important, the three of them will be linked together and remembered as the guys who stayed at CSU rather than transferring and the catalysts for CSU’s resurgence.

Nico, Hyron, and Kris with a post-game selfie

A Homecoming of Sorts as former CSU players Jason Smith and Andy Ogide made their way to Moby for Senior Day. It took a little work on my part and a lot of cooperation on their parts to get them together for a picture with Nico Carvacho. There’s a lot of history of CSU Mens Basketball in this picture of three All-MWC First Team centers. All it needed was Colton Iverson.

Nico, Jason, Andy – thats a lot of points and rebounds!

Freshman Isaiah Stevens all but wrapped up the Mountain West Freshman of the Year award with a brilliant 14 point and 7 rebound effort. There were several great passes but the best of which was a second-half drive where he skillfully attacked the paint and avoided an offensive foul as he dished to Carvacho for an and-1. He even had Air Force’s LaVelle Scottie saluting him.

Sir, Yessir!

And finally, The Rams got to 20 wins for the first time since 2017 and the first time in the Niko Medved Era. It was a remarkable regular season as the Rams regularly play 4 freshmen and 2 sophomores in their 9-man rotation. 20 wins for the 296th least experienced team in the country is quite an accomplishment. Tremendous senior leadership, a talented young group, and a hard-working and smart bunch of coaches has the Rams poised to continue their climb in the Mountain West.

Rams’ Second Half Surge Enough to Overcome Spartans 78-71

February 23, 2020

A combination of stifling defense, sharing the ball on offense, and the toughness to overcome some curious officiating in the second half propelled the Rams to their 19th win of the season and 10th in conference play.

Adam Thistlewood with Stan Hornung

Enough to overcome a mistake-prone first half where the Rams turned the ball over 12 times and committed uncharacteristically poor fouls which gave the visitors from the crotch of Silicon Valley far too many uncontested points. Three fouls on San Jose three-pointers, a foul 90’ from the basket with 2 seconds on the clock, led to 11 free throws of which the Spartans converted 9. Passes to no one in particular led to an amazing 28 points off turnovers for the game, most of which came in the first half.

A poor enough half for the Rams to go into the locker room trailing 43-40. They had shot 56% from the field and 50% from the three-point line and trailed. It wasnt an issue with effort. It was an issue between the ears. On top of that, they failed to defend San Jose’s Seneca Knight with any effectiveness, allowing the Spartan sophomore to ride a streak of hot shooting on his way to 26 first half points. 26!

But the Rams came out in the second half with a razor sharp focus of defense, limiting Wallace’s ability to score by trapping him off of screens and forcing the ball into other shooters’ hands. And even though their shooting percentage fell off from the first half, they shared the ball enough to score at the rim and converted at the free throw line.

The game was still tied at 59 with just over 8 minutes remaining before a Ram 14-2 run, bookended by Kendle Moore and Kris Martin three-balls propelled them into a 73-61 lead inside four minutes. And while the Spartans came back with an 8-point run of their own, the Rams effectively killed the game at the free throw line.

Adam Thistlewood led the Rams with 16 points, 14 of which came in the first half featuring 4-7 shooting from the perimeter, the first of which came from Timnath. Dischon Thomas came of the bench to score 13 on 6-6 shooting, scoring on an arsenal of jumpers, leaners, and dunks. Niko Carvacho recorded the 48th double-double of his career with 10 and 12. And David Roddy overcome a poor first half to finish with 10, scoring at the rim and the free throw line.

Dischon Thomas post San Jose State

Seneca Knight was the story for the Spartans, finishing with a career high 37. But the Rams held him to only one field goal in the second half, a late runner.

Other Stuff

I referred to some curious officiating that occurred on the second half. I have seen mostly very good officiating in Moby this year. Not this afternoon. The first 4 minutes of the second half were especially atrocious, punctuated by a technical foul call on Carvacho for daring to show pleasure with an over-the-back foul call that was the third such foul in about 30 seconds but the only one called. Thistlewood pushed a couple of times with no call. Kendle Moore pummeled on a loose ball. Kris Martin run over drawing an obvious charge called a block.

CSU’s Bench delivered on a day when they really needed it. Thomas was perfect from the floor and contributed a pair of steals. Kris Martin with 8 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in 24 minutes; and it was his effort defending Wallace that fueled the Rams in the second half. All in all, 29 points from the bench.

Kris Martin with Jan Carpenter

Kris Martin was honored pre-game for scoring his 1000th point earlier in his career. Most of those points came at Oral Roberts before transferring to CSU. Fortunately he chose to stick it out with CSU with the regime change. His senior leadership, along with that of Carvacho and Hyron Edwards, has been instrumental in the Rams’ revival.

On To San Diego where the Rams will face the formerly undefeated and now angry San Diego State Aztecs who were upset at home by UNLV. It was a night that SDSU hung their MWC championship banner and the Rebels did not take a liking to that. The Rams’ broadcast team will be without color man Adam Nigon, whose wife is expecting a child shortly. Good luck in the next few days Adam! Word is that Pierce Hornung might be in San Diego and be invited as a guest color man. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Pierce spent his time telling Nigon stories? Even more awesome if the Rams can pull out a win!

Merrill Delivers a Master Class as Aggies Hold Off Rams 75-72

February 12, 2020

Reigning MWC Player of the Year Sam Merrill had tortured Colorado State throughout his career. 38 points in a late-season OT win in Moby last season. 28 earlier this season in a 77-61 win in Logan.

So it came as no surprise that Merrill scored 32 in leading the Aggies to a pulsating victory in a hard-fought contest. 20 of those points came in the second half and the most important of which was a late clock, deep three-ball over the outstretched Nico Carvacho in the final 30 seconds.

The Rams spent most of the game clawing back from an early deficit and when Adam Thistlewood nailed a three-ball to get the Rams to within 73-72 inside of 10 seconds there was hope for some Moby Magic. It wasnt to be as Utah State guard Abel Porter nailed a pair of free throws and a late Thistlewood three rattled around the rim.

With that miss, the Aggies had scored a huge road victory, moving into 2nd place in the MWC standings and firming up their resumer for an at-large NCAA bid.

The Aggies began the game crisply and ran out to a 16-7 lead only to see the Rams reel them in. That trend of Aggie building lead then getting reeled in continued up until the final 4 minutes. Merrill and center Neemias Queta were scoring inside and out. For the Rams it was sensational freshman Isaiah Stevens scoring in the mid-range supported by a balanced attack from Carvacho, David Roddy, Adam Thistlewood, and Kris Martin.

But it wasnt to be for the young Rams as repeated errors cost them dearly. Multiple uncontested layups on Aggie inbound plays. Out of control close-outs leading to more easy buckets in the paint. And a staggering failure to commit repeatedly to a defensive game plan designed to force Merrill off the 3-point line. Merrill was able to get 10 shots off from beyond the arc and he made 6 of them.

The young Rams played hard, they fought to the bitter end and there was no shame in the loss. But they also learned a valuable lesson. Playing at the highest levels requires more than grit and determination. It requires strict adherence and discipline to a game plan for a full 40 minutes. It cant come in spurts to overcome an NCAA Tournament level team like Utah State. Its more than a simple play here or a play there to get over the top. Its playing the right way on every possession.

Other Stuff…

So I went back and forth with another passionate Ram fan during the game regarding how to stop Merrill. He suggested a box-and-one defense. I fired back how about a triangle and 2 with a pair of defenders chasing Merrill. I mean what the heck, who would you rather have shooting – Sam Merrill or Diogo Brito?

I also asked the coaches why they didnt throw a heavy double team at Merrill at the end of the game to keep the ball out of his hands. I was told that they actually tried to trap Merrill when he came off a ball screen but they weren’t successful. Bottom line is that Utah State sets really good screens, Sam Merrill is a big strong guy that knows how to use screens, and the Rams weren’t able to control him this time. He is very good.

Carvacho and Queta battled for the entire game and Queta has a slight edge, going for 14 and 11 while Carvacho had 12 and 9. Queta unleashed an unstoppable jump hook from the right baseline several times. Carvacho finished hard at the rim. Both were clean and physical. No BS to eithers’ game last night.

But amazingly, it was David Roddy who was the. Most dominant defensive force in the paint. Queta had 2 blocks, but Roddy delivered 4 blocked shots, on top of 10 points and 7 rebounds. He more than neutralized a tough match up in Utah State’s Justin Bean

Isaiah Stevens was absolutely brilliant, save for a couple of sloppy turnovers. He displayed a mid-range game that was Chris Paul-esque, shooting pull-up jumpers, runners, and attacking the rim. Several were of the extremely difficult variety, having to launch over Queta guarding the paint. Stevens finished with 19 points, including 8-9 on his 2-point attempts.

And finally…

I cannot thank my fellow Ram fans enough for stopping by and seeing how I’m recovering from my hip surgery. Thanks Mallory, Traci, Ben, Todd. Thanks to people like Coloradoan beat writer Kevin Lytle too for checking up on me. I love great college basketball games. I’m getting them in Moby now and I’m getting to share them with my extended Ram family. Yes I hate seeing a loss. But some things are bigger than the final score.

Rams Run Rampant, Rout Runnin’ Rebels 95-77

February 2, 2020

First of all let’s get one thing straight. If headlines themselves could talk and if they could roll their r’s like Moby Arena’s PA announcer does, this would be a 5 minute headline!

The game had the makings of a classic with the Rams coming off a scintillating buzzer-beating win over Nevada and 2nd place UNLV coming off a bye with a week to prepare.

And while CSU came out where they left off against Nevada with Isaiah Stevens draining a pair of three-balls, the Rebels were giving the Rams fits with their physical play in the paint, their disruptive defense, and their athleticism. An early Ram lead disappeared, the teams traded blows. The Rams survived a 6+ minute field goal drought with their trademark hard-nosed and intelligent defense. My analyst wife wondered why CSU was playing so slow and all I could tell her was that UNLV was doing what they came to do.

Nearly 15 minutes into the game, the visitors gained some traction and build a lead of their own at 33-25. A quick CSU timeout. And then the game would turn.

CSU’s speedy guards Kendle Moore and Stevens had earlier moments including an incredible sequence off a steal where Stevens found a streaking Moore behind the defense with a hair-splitting bounce pass for a flying reverse layup by Moore.

Out of the timeout, Moore drained a three-ball from the corner then on the next possession found an open Stevens in the corner for another three and the Rams were on their way to closing out the half in style. The 16-3 run was punctuated with an exclamation point as Moore pushed the ball in transition, forced the UNLV to collapse to set up a trailing Stevens for a long three right in front of the UNLV bench. The freshman calmly rose and drained the thirty-footer at the buzzer and the Rams led 41-36.

The teams traded blows again to start the second half with Stevens scoring a memorable corner three when a jab step sent a UNLV defender stumbling. (Editorial comment-I love jab steps). Nico Carvacho was starting to gain traction in the paint as was David Roddy, and Adam Thistlewood was starting to hurt the Rebels from the perimeter.

And the bench was starting to click as well and the Rams didn’t skip a beat with seniors Kris Martin and Hyron Edwards and freshmen Dischon Thomas and John Tonje on the floor. Next thing you know, the Rams went on another run, this time 14-2, punctuated by an Edwards steal, a pass to Moore, followed by a pass to streaking Tonje for a flush.

The Rams led 66-48 but a quick Rebel surge got the game back into single digits. It was time for another Ram surge. This one was fueled with inside scoring by Carvacho, Roddy, and Thistlewood and to the tune of 16-2.

Three runs – 16-3, 14-2, 16-2. They all demonstrated the versatility and balance of the Rams’ firepower. Speed, skill, sharing the ball. And finishing.

Other Stuff

I wish I was clever up to come up with a name for CSU’s backcourt combination of Stevens, Moore, and Edwards. For now I’ll call them the Blur Brothers because of how fast they play and how devastating they can be in transition.

CSU’s fabulous freshmen were simply fabulous. Stevens was 5-5 from beyond the arc on his way to 21 points. More importantly his poise allowed the Rams to effectively deal with the defensive pressure that UNLV tried to apply. David Roddy would end with 14 after struggling to deal with UNLVs defensive style in the first half (more on that later) Dischon Thomas scored 9 off the bench but it was his adjustment to the Rebels’ physical play in the paint that was impressive. And John Tonje scored 7 including a three pointer off the bounce; he’s not just a catch and shoot guy.

But CSU’s game really begins with the seniors. Nico Carvacho was saddled with foul trouble but absolutely dominated both ends of the floor. He rebounds voraciously, he defends with intelligence and physicality, and he’s like a Times Square traffic cop directing everything when the Rams are running their half court sets. Kris Martin was huge defensively as was Hyron Edwards; when both are scoring some, the Rams attack remains constant and relentless.

Kendle Moore may not have looked dominant on the scoresheet but he might have been the best player on the floor. His defensive work on the perimeter effectively shut down the Rebels’ talented Amauri Hardy. His speed in the open court caused the Rebels fits. And he regularly finished off Ram defensive possessions with high-flying rebounds. His final line was 5 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds.

He stated that he almost had a triple-double. Carvacho jokingly corrected him by telling him he wasn’t even close.

I talked a little with David Roddy after the game. I thought his performance was remarkable. Players often talk about getting better the next practice. In Roddy’s case he got better at halftime.

David had struggled to finish at the rim in the first half. In fact one flying attempt at a dunk was met with a clean, physical block that sent him to the ground. I asked David if that had ever happened to him before. I was surprised that he answered that it had. Then I asked him what he did differently in the second half. He told me that once he realized how committed UNLV was to blocking shots that he became more patient and used more shot fakes.

Personally I find that unbelievably mature for a freshman. The young man is a special player.

Rams Defeat Nevada in Thriller as Stevens Delivers the KO

January 30, 2020

This will be brief.

I wasn’t at the game because I am home recovering from having a new hip installed. I don’t feel like I add any value if I’m not at a game live.

The Rams defeated Nevada 92-91.

But, after watching Isaiah Stevens drain a contested 20-footer and declare “This is my effin city”, I can’t help but comment. It was an incredible conclusion to an incredible 40 minutes of college basketball. A game neither team deserved to lose. Too many individual performances to highlight, team excellence throughout.

And in the end, we don’t have our next Dorian Green in Fort Collins.

We have our first Isaiah Stevens.

There’s only one Isaiah Stevens.

Other Stuff…

One simple thought. The number 4 seems to be a pretty magical number at Colorado State.

Rams Extend Double-Digit Win Streak To 5 With 86-68 Victory Over Fresno State

January 23, 2020

What a boring headline.

I thought for hours and hours and couldn’t figure out how to be so clever that I could create a great headline to describe CSU taking the Bulldogs to obedience class. To describe how the Rams played their most complete game of the year to date.

My records only go back to 2002 and CSU has not delivered 5 straight double-digit conference wins until now. And to put that into perspective, neither has 4th-ranked San Diego State this season.

The Central Valley visitors were coming off their best MWC win to date, having thrashed Wyoming in Laramie. It has been a season of growing pains to date for the Bulldogs, mostly due to inexperience and a slew of injuries. Much like CSU, they have three solid seniors and a pair of very talented freshmen.

The game started briskly as both teams were scoring. The Rams jumped to an early lead only to have the Bulldogs reel them in. Ram Freshman David Roddy was leading the way, scoring both inside and out and the visitor’s Nate Grimes was doing the same.

And then the Rams turned the game on its ear, led by frosh Isaiah Stevens who heated up from the perimeter and Hyron Edwards, who can off the bench for The foul-plagued Kendle Moore and delivered a defensive clinic on disruptive defense.

And when Edwards came out of nowhere late in the first half to strip Grimes of the ball near the free throw line and sprinted 3/4 of the court to finish with a two-hand flush, the Rams were propelled into the halftime room leading 46-33.

To their credit, the Dogs tried to make it a game in the second half, cutting the lead down to 6, but a CSU timeout followed by a pair of three-balls by Kris Martin and Stevens pushed the lead back to a dozen and the Rams never looked back.

The Rams executed at the offensive end, defended with energy and intelligence as they gradually pulled away. The Dogs’ Grimes kept it respectable with some outstanding perimeter shooting but it wasn’t enough. And when the Rams broke a Fresno press with a Kendle Moore pass to Nico Carvacho, followed by a touch pass to a flying Roddy who flushed high and hard, the Rams had put the exclamation point on their 14th victory of the season.

Roddy would finish the game with a career-high 26 along with 8 rebounds, Stevens had 21, and Adam Thistlewood 15.

More Stuff…

The players visited patients at the UC Health Cancer Center earlier in the week. To honor the patients, they wore the names of some of them on the backs of their jerseys rather than their own names.it was a beautiful scene post-game when the players met with the patients. It was a nice event organized by CSU and the team certainly played as if it meant everything to them.

Edwards’ Dunk Cost The Rams A Point

So the CSU bench got excited when Hyron delivered his steal and dunk. They celebrated 90′ away at the other end. But for some reason referee Greg Nixon decided it was deserving of a bench technical and Fresno converted the free throw. After the game I asked who the culprit was and PJ Byrd came clean. Of course I teased him that his scoring line was -1 for the night. And I told him the ref was an ass for not issuing a warning instead of a technical. We laughed.

Roddy’s Dunk

The dunk was huge and I’m just happy no one from Fresno got in the way as he might have been killed. I asked David after the game. If he’s ever had a better one. He said it was his best one in a college game but he had better ones in high school games.

In Bounds Plays

The Rams unleashed in quick succession several killer inbound plays. The first set a series of screens for Thistlewood who promptly buried the three-ball. The next was a Series of cuts and a Roddy screen to free Thistlewood for an uncontested layup. The third involved a screen for Stevens that left Isaiah wide open from the perimeter; shocked to be so open that he threw up an air ball.

Who Had The Scout?

I talk all the time about the quality of this coaching staff under head Niko Medved. Assistant JR Blount had the scout for Fresno and he nailed it.

Speed Kills

Is there a faster backcourt west of the Mississippi? I think not.

Tonight’s Ticket

Honored the great 2003 MWC Tourney Championship team that included Brian Greene, Andy Birley, Matt Nelson, and Micheal Morris among others. It also had Dale Layer and Buzz Williams ; Layer is Buzz’s assistant at Texas A&M these days.

And finally…

David Roddy and Isaiah Stevens got the best of their Fresno frosh counterparts Orlando Robinson and Jared Hyder. Robinson is a 6’10” big with a ton of game and Hyder is a 6’3″ guard who can score. Early foul trouble hurt Robinson and Hyder never could get going but make no mistake about it, one of these four players will win the MWC Freshman of the Year. Roddy repeatedly tore up Robinson inside and I asked him if he was trying to send a message to his fellow freshman. He said that wasn’t on his mind and that all he cares about is the team and getting better.

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men…

January 21, 2020

Often go awry.

A line adapted from the poem “To A Mouse” by Robert Burns basically tells us that no matter how well we plan, things can go askew.

Why do I wax poetic today?

Because at the CSU Basketball Coaches Show last night at Lucky Joes, Niko Medved described something that happened during the Air Force game on Saturday.

(Shameless plug – $4 Burger Basket at Lucky Joes while watching the coaches show makes for a decent and inexpensive supper)

So let me set up what happened. About midway during the first half CSU led by 1 or 2 and were inbounding the ball in their offensive end. They ran a play that quickly gave freshman John Tonje an open look from beyond the arc and he buried it.

Tonje is an offensive weapon who has been getting better defensively, earning more court time. He had shot 5-8 from beyond the arc in his previous two games. So of course I figured that the coaches ran a play for him after watching it executed so crisply and having it produce a successful result.

And there was Coach Medved last night talking about the play. The play designed for Adam Thistlewood, CSUs reliable sharpshooting sophomore. But there was Tonje confidently stepping in for Adam, running the play as designed, and then burying the three to boost the Rams’ lead.

Right play, wrong guy, right result.

I love it!

Monday Morning Point Guard

January 20, 2020

Just a bunch of thoughts after a week of college basketball

Rams Went Into Colorado Springs and Ate Air Force’s Children.

The Falcons were described by CSU Head Coach Niko Medved as being loaded for bear. This year’s edition of the Flyboys is senior-laden, with nearly 60% of their minutes going to 5 seniors. CSU dropped a pair of 30-point wins on the Falcons last season and those seniors wanted to give the young Rams an afternoon to remember. The Falcons had been playing very well at home of late and this was going to be the Rams’ comeuppance.

It wasnt to be as senior Kris Martin scored 19 points off the bench, leading four other Rams in double figures, as the Rams stormed their way to a 78-65 victory. Martin delivered three consecutive three-balls in the final 10 minutes, pushing the Rams’ lead into double digits and they were able to close from there.

The Rams held the Falcons scoreless over the final 2:45 and delivered what is known as a kill, three consecutive scoreless possessions by their opponent.

And then I was hit with the following thought:

What would happen if basketball players got to wear symbols on their jerseys to signify achieving key objectives. You know, kind of like how Ohio State puts all those friggin Buckeyes on their helmets. Some guys have so many you wonder if the sheer weight makes it hard for them to run.

And then my mind wandered some more. It’s hell gettin old.

How come there isn’t a name for when a team or an individual makes three three-balls in a row. An offensive version of a kill so to speak.

So I decided that I would create my own name for it and call it a Clavell. After Gian Clavell who could turn a game on its ear in a minute by nailing three straight from beyond the arc.

So Kris Martin. And Adam Thistlewood, Kendle Moore, and Isaiah Stevens from the previous UNM game… I hereby award you with a Clavell for your efforts this week.

Speaking of Kendle Moore…

I’m not sure any Ram had a better week than Kendle. I already highlighted his play against UNM in an earlier blog post. He was outstanding again against Air Force. Perimeter defense that helped hold the great shooting of Air Force to 6-24 from beyond the arc. A pair of triples himself, including another late dagger. And three explosive drives to the rim.

Kendle is not an offensive machine. But he knows how to pick his spots well, so much so that he is the leader in the MWC in Effective Field Goal Percentage (Points/Shots) at 62.3. He’s the top perimeter shooter for the Rams this season and 2nd on the Rams in 2-pt FG%, trailing only David Roddy.

So much for the stats…

No one plays harder than Kendle and no one is more committed to making winning plays. On his first rim attack against Air Force, Kendle was sent flying past the baseline after scoring on an incredible opposite hand reverse layup. As Air Force inbounded the ball upcourt, all of a sudden there was a blur in green – Kendle sprinting back into defensive position. No muscle flex, no mugging for a camera. Just pure hustle. He got into his defensive posture, nearly stole the ball, switched onto 6’7″ 220 lb Lavelle Scottie, and forced Scottie into a difficult jumper which he missed.. Reminiscent of Daniel Bejarano who would be sent flying on end end of the court and still beat everyone down to the other end of the floor.

My kind of player!

With The Win, CSU Moved to 3-1 in the CFRL Standings

Not only was Air Force disappointed to lose an MWC game, but they also experienced the pain of a Cracker’s Front Range League title slipping through their grasp. The Falcons would have moved to the top of the table with a win on Saturday.

Here’s the current standings:

Colorado 2-0

Northern Colorado 2-0

Colorado State 3-1

Air Force 2-1

Wyoming 1-4

Denver 0-4

I haven’t decided how to break any ties and I don’t have the resources to afford two trophies – cheese balls and cigars can get expensive.

The Rams’ MWC Winning Streak Grew to Four – not their longest streak since 2002 but their most impressive. The longest streak is courtesy of the Magnificent 7 squad of 2017 who reeled off 7 in a row on their way to a second place regular season finish. What’s impressive about the current streak is that all 4 games have been won by double digits, the longest such streak.

And finally…

I Love When I Hear CSU Assistant Coach Dave Thorson shouting instructions on TV broadcasts. Thor brings a level of intensity to the bench unlike any other. When you watch a game at Moby or when you watch a game on TV, you can hear his voice rise above all. Most of the time its when the Rams are defending late in the shot clock and he wants them to be aware and on the same page.

Next Up…

Fresno State on Wednesday night

@Utah State on Saturday night

Bombs Away as Rams Rout New Mexico 105-72

January 16, 2020

So as I’m walking into Moby Arena who do I see but ex-CSU and Utah State Head Coach Stew Morril. Of course I say hello and head to my seat.

I intently watch CSU warm up to see how sharp they look. Because the opponent is New Mexico. A big, strong, and talented team sitting at 15-3 and receiving votes I tj he national polls. I figure CSU is going to have to make some three’s to come out with a win. And there CSU is making everything in warmups. My eyes are drawn to both Kendle Moore and Adam Thistlewood, sophomores who are leading the team from beyond the arc. Swish. Swish. Swish.

Of course you never know what’s going to happen when the lights go on.

But the closest the game would be was the opening tip as first Moore, then Thistlewood drained a pair of three-balls and the Rams were off and running. The Lobos were also stroking it but not at the rate that the Rams were. Freshmen Isaiah Stevens and David Roddy continued the hot shooting and Nico Carvacho was proving to be too much for the Lobos inside.

Time for subs and the onslaught continued as Kris Martin and John Tonje scored from beyond the arc and center Dischon Thomas went to work inside. When the starters returned at about the 8:00 mark I turned to my wife and said “CSU is going for the kill shot now”

And they delivered as the hot shooting continued and the defense stayed locked in. The halftime buzzer sounded and the Rams led 56-33.

The Lobos came out for the second half with more energy and tried to cut the lead but CSU was having no part of it as they continued the hot perimeter shooting, the best of which was a Thistlewood bomb from the corner as the shot clock expired. Lobo shoulders slumped, Coach Paul Weir’s head went into his hands, and you could have called the game then.

The lead grew, the bench players came in, the lead continued to grow. The Rams continued to share the basketball, the best of which was a long outlet from Roddy to Stevens who found the streaking Carvacho for the flush. PJ Byrd scored an And-1 to put the Rams at 100 and a short time later found a flying Tonje on the baseline and delivered the alley-oop for a thunderous dunk.

The final buzzer sounded and the Rams had scored their biggest win ever over New Mexico.

They finished with a school record 19 3-point baskets on only 28 attempts. A season high 27 assists on 38 made baskets. A 36-22 rebounding advantage.

All five starters scored in double figures.

And the Rams won their 12th game of the year, matching their total from last year, and moved their MWC record to 3-3 with their third consecutive conference win.

More stuff…

Kendle Moore was absolutely fantastic on both ends of the floor. Nailing threes, flying up and down the court, defending talented Lobo guard JaQuan Lyle. His effort on Lyle was fantastic, forcing him into many of the 8 turnovers he would be charged with.

Adam Thistlewood looked much more comfortable in his second game back since suffering a high ankle sprain vs Tulsa before Christmas. Four out of five from beyond the arc tonight but his best might have been his pull-up jumper from 12′ after a shot fake and a couple of dribbles.

Isaiah Stevens continued his outstanding play in the backcourt with 19 points and 8 assists. And David Roddy did his thing inside and out, ending with 12 and 6. Dischon Thomas had 8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists – a near perfect effort as the big off the bench. And John Tonje had his first double figure game ever with 10 points. A total of 49 points for the Fabu Frosh.

Nico Carvacho delivered his 40-somethingth double-double with 12 and 10. He was a force on both end, grabbing tough rebounds, running the floor, finishing at the rim. But… He did have one horrendous miss. After taking a baseline feed, he had an uncontested dunk and missed. The ball careened high into the air. After the game I congratulated Nico on a missed dunk that got more air than the Flying Tomato Shaun White ever got in the half-pipe. We laughed.

I didnt know at the time but Kris Martin achieved a milestone in the first half, scoring the 1000th point in his career on a corner three-ball.

After the game I told Stew Morril that he needed to come to every game and sit in that same seat. He said something to the effect of “I guess I was good luck.”

Darn right you were Stew!