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My Take on Tiger Woods’ Epic 2019 Masters Victory

April 15, 2019

Like so many others around the globe, I sat mesmerized over the last four days watching the single best sporting event that takes place in April.

I have to be honest. I believed Rory McIlroy was playing so well that I thought it was inevitable that he would complete his career Grand Slam. Others were playing well enough this Spring that you knew it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk for anybody.

Did I think Tiger Woods could be a factor?

Absolutely.

After winning the Tour Championship at East Lake last September he had lost some of his edge in his first few starts of the 2019 season. But a mere two weeks ago he showed that he would be ready as he played 4 solid rounds of golf over 4 days of matches at the WGC Match Play Event.

Many were surprised when Woods won last September and many more didn’t believe he would ever win another major championship.

Not me.

And it wasn’t because I’m a huge Tiger Woods fan. It was for two good reasons.

The first was based on the simple notion that the cream always rises to the top. Make no mistake about it. Woods is the creme de la creme when it comes to modern golf.

The second reason is based upon something I had heard over two years ago.

I had the good fortune to be invited to spend time at TaylorMade Golf in Carlsbad, CA in the winter of 2017. Part of the visit included a day at The Kingdom, TaylorMade’s clubfitting center. I had the opportunity to spend time and learn from some of the finest clubfitting professionals in the world. These are the guys that work with all of the top professionals that are under contract with TaylorMade.

One of the TaylorMade fitters threw out a question to those of us in attendance. The question was “Of all of the TaylorMade staff members, who do you think is the purest ballstriker?” At the time the TaylorMade staff included big names like Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Jason Day, Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm and a recently signed Tiger Woods. The staff also included lesser players like Francesco Molinari and Xander Schauffele.

If you follow the game it was hard to imagine that the answer could be anyone other than Justin Rose or Sergio Garcia. We were shocked to hear that the answer was neither of them.

We learned that the best ball striker on staff was Tiger Woods.

Better than World #1 Dustin Johnson and #2 Justin Rose. Better than 2017 Masters Winner Garcia. Better than up and comer Rahm or PGA Champ Day.

The same Tiger Woods whose world ranking had fallen off the cliff and who couldn’t make a cut. The same guy who regularly withdrew from tournaments for physical reasons.

The TaylorMade clubfitting professional explained that Tiger consistently produced the most consistent numbers when hitting balls on the range at The Kingdom. He was always on the center of the clubface. It was the fitter’s belief that It was only a matter of time until Woods physical health and mental approach caught up with his prodigious talent when it comes to hitting a golf ball.

There is a fine line between success and failure on the PGA Tour. Woods had fallen below the line and had to relearn how to hit shots under the pressure of tournament play. His progression through 2018 was nothing short of amazing as he challenged in both the British Open and PGA Championship. He capped it with the win at East Lake.

I’m not one of those that tries to guess at the historical significance of Woods’ 2019 Masters victory. Some of his other major victories throughout his career have been pretty amazing.

But I am one to tell you that Tiger Woods is the most talented golfer to ever play the game. That is why he has been able to rise from the ashes and once again call himself a major champion, 22 years after he first burst on the scene.

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Rams Seal Border in 83-48 Rout of Wyoming

February 24, 2019

Who says you need $5B to build a wall?

The Colorado State Rams didn’t. All they needed was energy and commitment on the defensive end as they completely shut down the Wyoming attack on their way to the largest margin of victory ever over their rivals from the north.

The Rams said stay out of our Costco, stay away from our Walmart Supercenter, and stay the heck out of the paint unless your name is Justin James.

James is an All-MWC player stuck in a difficult spot. He is a classic 2/3 Hybrid player who can score at the rim, in the midrange, and from the perimeter. He is forced to initiate the WYO offense from the point because the Pokes have no one else.

The Rams were going to make James work for all of his points and defend the rest of the Cowboys out of the game. They threw guards Kendle Moore, Hyron Edwards, and JD Paige at James in an attempt to take him out of his rhythm.

It worked perfectly in the first half as the Rams raced out to a 17-4 advantage from which WYO would never recover. Nico Carvacho was scoring inside at will and crisp ball movement was leading to open looks and makes from the perimeter.

The Rams led 40-19 at the half and only three WYO players scored FG’s.

The second half played out much the same way as the first half. Only James was able to score in the halfcourt as the Rams, after allowing WYO to close to 13, easily pulled away. The defensive intensity of the first half was sustained in the second as only one WYO player other than James scored a FG.

You hear the phrase Team Together used a lot if you hang around the CSU program. This was the consummate effort of 5 guys playing as 1. Rams scored 16, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9. Individual Rams had 8, 7, 5, 5, and 4 rebounds. Individual Rams had 5, 4, 4, 3, and 2 assists. Stat stuffing at its best. Not a result of any selfish play but from simply sharing the basketball. A solid 1.17 points per offensive possession.

James would finish with 29 points and 12 rebounds. It was a fantastic effort by the senior from Laramie but nowhere near enough. The rest of his team were held to 4-28 from the field, a total of 13 rebounds, and a total of 5 assists to go with 9 turnovers. The Rams held the Cowboys to their lowest Offensive Efficiency of the season, yielding only .68 points per possession.

They had built a wall around Moby and scored a memorable win for their fans.

Other Stuff

Nico Carvacho was honored pre-game for breaking the all-time CSU rebounding record. He was presented a ball by none other than all-time great Pat Durham who had set the record 30 years ago.

Carvacho was on his way to a big game until he was saddled with foul trouble that kept him off the floor for 20 minutes. He picked up his third foul early in the second half, then when he returned to the game, he immediately picked up a fourth foul on a retaliatory push after a WYO foul that was called a dead ball technical foul.

It was a dumb play.

And I told Nico so after the game. He was defending Kris Martin who he thought had been the victim of a flagrant foul by Wyoming’s Hunter Thompson. I told him it would have been better to pick Martin up off the floor, then figure out a way to deliver a dunk on someone’s head. He fouled out both of WYOs bigs and would have fouled out another if he had been on the floor more.

Carvacho gets a pass this time though. His intensity led to a curb-stomping 35-point win. As his coach told me after the game, his greatest positive is his intensity and that can become his biggest negative as well. Nico is obviously the straw that stirs the Rams drink and is on his way to All-MWC honors.

One Last Thought

I heard from a highly reliable source that Wyoming brought a broom to their shootaround on Friday evening in Moby. To symbolize a sweep after their victory in Laramie two weeks ago.

They didn’t get their sweep.

But the Rams certainly mopped the floor with them.

P.S.

Dear Coach Bobo,

That’s how it’s done.

San Diego State Outclasses Rams at Home 71-60

February 13, 2019

It was 90’s themed night as CSU hosted the Aztecs from the Left Coast. The Rams reeling off a terrible effort and loss to Wyoming on Saturday. San Diego State in the midst of a solid run but still mostly a Tarzan at home and Jane on the road in MWC play.

Something had to give.

Sometimes Reality Bites.

And it was the Rams doing the giving as they carelessly turned the ball over and repeatedly missed shots at the rim, struggling with SDSU’s length. Defensively they locked in and forced turnovers but gave up too many second chances at the rim.

The game was full of ebbs and flows with Aztecs taking leads and the Rams reeling them in. A late Hyron Edwards three brought the Rams within 3 at the half.

San Diego State opened up an early 7-point lead to start the second stanza and then the Rams followed with a 13-1 run to take a 5-point lead. The Aztecs have given up countless leads in the second half and this looked like it might be following that script.

It didn’t.

A San Diego State timeout led to a decisive 17-1 extended run by the Aztecs and the last 8 minutes were a formality. Rams fans left Moby disapponted but made it home earlier than expected after a late 9:10pm start.

Other Stuff

Nico Carvacho broke the all-time CSU rebounding record held for 30 years by all-time great Pat Durham. He is an extraordinary rebounder and plays hard. He also chirps too much at the officials. Here’s one of the officials he chirped at last night – the great David Hall.

The San Diego State President and Staff were in Fort Collins last night

I happened into first row seats for the game last night. Right before the start a group of 4 people in SanDiego State colors sat next to me. The group included the President, Chief Financial Officer, and Athletic Director. They had spent the day meeting with the brass of CSU learning the ins and outs of CSU’s football stadium. In case you didn’t know, San Diego State has plans to build a new football stadium with groundbreaking to begin in 2020 and the first game in 2022.

I had a pleasant evening talking mostly with the CFO. When I asked him about what he liked most about CSU’s stadium he answered “Everything.” He was impressed with all the different levels of premium seating and services and the revenue streams associated with them.

They were very appreciated of the time that Tony Frank and crew had spent with them.

Rams Dropped 98-82 by #6 Nevada

February 8, 2019

First of all, let’s get one thing straight.

The final score flattered Nevada.

But it sure didn’t have that feel way early as the Wolf Pack exploded to a 36-20 lead after only 11 minutes. That came on the heels of a 58-25 second half just two weeks prior in Reno. The visitors were having their way inside and out and it was only some pretty solid offensive execution that was keeping the Rams on the same planet.

That lead fluctuated up and down through the next 7 minutes as Nevada’s Jordan Caroline was on his way to a 30-point first half, shooting 6-6 from beyond the arc. The Rams trailed 50-34 but closed on a 7-2 run, sending themselves into the locker room trailing only 52-41.

I say only because you’d be hard-pressed to find fault in anything Nevada. A Sweet Sixteen team last season, this year’s edition has the look of a potential Final Four squad when they are clicking.

The first 7 minutes of the second half featured the finest basketball displayed by the Rams in recent memory. They were running their halfcourt offense to perfection and, led by Center Nico Carvacho, were scoring regularly at the rim. They were creating open perimeter looks and nailing them. An upset looked possible as the Rams closed the Nevada lead to 67-64 with just under 13 minutes remaining. Counting the last couple of minutes in the first half, the Rams were on a 30-17 run over those 10 minutes.

But Nevada would have no part of playing the upset victim. They had cooled down from the perimeter so their attention turned to attacking the rim. Led by Caleb Martin and Caroline, that they did. The Wolf Pack managed to expand the lead and hold the Rams at bay.

They led 88-80 inside of two minutes and then a series of strange officiating calls took the luster off the game. A Nevada three-ball glanced off the rim to the left. Away from the play CSUs Hyron Edwards was tangled with Caroline. Somehow the 230 lb Caroline went to the floor after minor contact with the 170 lb Edwards. Whistle. Followed by a video review resulting in a flagrant foul on Edwards. What should have been a no call resulted in a pair of Nevada free throws and the ball.

That was immediately followed by a marginal foul call on a corner three-ball by Nevada’s Jazz Johnson. Edwards, still upset by the previous flagrant call, was finally whistled for a technical foul for jabbering. Five more free throws and the Wolf Pack has iced the game at 94-80 with a minute remaining.

The Rams had given it their all but didn’t have what it takes to score a famous victory. They had their chance to end possessions on missed perimeter shots by Nevada but failed to block out the shooter a remarkable three times in the second half. You can’t give three extra possessions to a team as good as Nevada! The Rams closed out poorly on a pair of three-balls and fouled a 90% FT shooter – twice!

Bottom line is that if you count the points given up on those plays, you essentially get the margin of Nevada’s victory.

Nevada’s Caroline would finish the game with 40 points and 12 rebounds, breaking the all-time MWC double-double record shared by Andrew Bogut and Kawhi Leonard. Heady company indeed. Caroline is on his way to an MWC Player of the Year award. Caleb Martin added 25 points. Carvacho played one of his best games ever, scoring 24 and grabbing 17 boards.

Other Stuff

The last bucket of the game was a Nevada dunk off an alley-oop pass between the Martin twins. It raised more than eyebrows because it came in the final 20 seconds when teams usually dribble out the game. Boos rained from the Moby faithful and the handshake line was a bit chilly as a result. My takeaway you ask…

Water under the bridge stuff.

Consider the fact that Nevada’s Caleb Martin was still sprinting the floor in the 40th minute of a hard-fought game. He was on the floor for all 40 of them! Maybe the play was bad form but it was Nevada in a nutshell.

The Wolf Pack play the game the way it is supposed to be played!

They go hard and the play together for 40 minutes. They don’t take possessions off on either end of the floor. One play in the second half really stood out for me. Cody Martin was stripped of the ball in the front court and CSUs Kris Martin had only Nevada’s Johnson to beat. He rose to the rim and was was rejected. Not by Johnson but by Cody Martin. Who had gotten up and sprinted back to immediately correct his mistake. He didn’t wallow on the ground in misery. Earlier in the half, CSU’s Edwards had turned the ball over in the forecourt and put his head down in misery. Seconds later Martin sprinted by him with the ball on the way to a layup.

Nevada is a collection of experienced and mature athletes. That play the game. Eric Musselman has assembled a collection of very good players and made them a great team. If they stay healthy and get a good draw, they are Final Four material.

Officiating

No need to get down in the weeds. I think it’s hard to be good when one of the officials is a dinosaur living off cronyism. Tom O’Neill is everything thats wrong these days with college officiating. A has-been making great paychecks because of his connections, not because he’s any good. They have three refs for a reason. When two are forced to do the work of three it makes for some interesting stuff.

State Pride

CSU started a pair of Colorado players – senior JD Paige and freshman Adam Thistlewood. Both struggled in the first half and both came on on the second half. Paige finished with 13, 4, and 4. Thistlewood looked completely lost and overmatched in the first half but came on the second half to finish with 10 points. His confidence and maturity are beyond most freshmen and his understanding of how to move on to the next play is exemplary.

Late Flurry Falls Short As CSU Loses 70-68 To Boise State

January 30, 2019

A highly improbable comeback that nearly had a miracle finish would have been a great story. It would have overcome nearly 30 minutes of OK effort and decent play and maybe put the Rams over the top. But it didn’t as the Rams have only themselves to blame for finishing on the wrong side of the final score.

They had won the turnover battle by 3, they had won the rebounding battle by 14 including an amazing offensive rebounding edge of 14-2. The result was that they created 18 more shots from the field than their opponents. Those are numbers that usually result in big wins. But not this time.

And the reason is simple.

One of my favorite coaches used to spout a line that holds true.

“The aggressor always wins.”

And it was the lack of aggression that was CSU’s downfall.

Defensively they were not running through screens hard enough and they were not as close and physical with their on ball defense. Boise was cold for the first 8 minutes opening 3-12 but shot about 75% from the field over the final 30 minutes as a result. It was OK effort by the Rams, just not winning effort.

Offensively they found themselves a bit flummoxed when Boise shifted to a 2-3 zone which brought the pace to the Bronco’s liking. CSU remained perimeter focused and when they got the ball into the paint they settled for midrange shots rather than attacking the rim. Coming into the game Boise regularly put MWC opponents on the free throw line. The Rams shot 0 free throws in the first half!

The Rams trailed by 5 at the half but the second half opened with promise as JD Paige made his way to the rim and was fouled! He converted the two free throws.

They were to be the last free throws until the final four minutes. Boise continued to exploit the Rams inside and out and when they pushed their lead to 11, the Broncos seemed well on their way to scoring a nice road win.

CSU had struggled from the perimeter after making a few three’s early but somehow heated up enough to make it a game down the stretch, led by Anthony Masinton-Bonner and Hyron Edwards. The Rams were within three with the ball inside 20 seconds but a smart foul on Nico Carvacho inside of 10 seconds forced a missed front end of a 1-and-1, the Rams fouled, and Boise converted a free throw to lead by 4.

Game over?

Not quite as JD Paige was fouled shooting a 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds. The Rams only chance was for Paige to make the first two, then somehow tip ia miss and put the game into OT.

Paige drained the first and then the second. He missed the third perfectly and Carvacho came flying across the lane, grabbed the ball, and just missed at the buzzer.

It would have been a finish for the ages to put the game into OT but it wasn’t to be. Boise had done just enough to walk away with a win.

The Rams had played OK. They had shared the ball to the tune of 22 assists on 27 made baskets. They had missed a bunch of open looks from the perimeter but still had chances to get back into the game.

Hopefully they learned a lesson. Games aren’t won by accident or by talent. They are won by the team that plays harder over 40 minutes.

Hopefully they learned that the aggressor always wins.

Rams Continue Home Conference Dominance With 74-65 Win Over Fresno State

January 28, 2019

Coming off a 40-point road thrashing at Nevada on Wednesday night, the Colorado State Rams were back in the friendly confines of Moby Arena to face MWC co-leaders Fresno State. The same Bulldog squad that had throttled the Rams by double digits just a couple of short weeks ago. The same Bulldog squad that has opened with 3 MWC road wins. The Rams had scored huge wins in their only conference home games so something had to give.

And it was the Rams who continued their trend of excellent play in Moby Arena as they defended Fresno into 35% shooting from the field and executed offensively in both the halfcourt and transition to win handily.

It was another in the cap of the program being built by new Head Coach Niko Medved as Fresno State was the highest Pomeroy-rated opponent defeated since San Diego State in 2015.

The plan was to keep Fresno from scoring in transition off live ball turnovers and make the Bulldogs execute in the halfcourt. And when the Rams forced them into the halfcourt, they switched all screens on the perimeter other than the screens set by Center Nate Grimes. Grimes’ screens were hedged by CSU big Niko Carvacho. It all sounds so easy. It isn’t. Tons of communication, effort, positioning and timing all come into play and there were very few possessions when the Rams were ineffective. They kept the Bulldogs out of the paint, forcing them into contested shots from the mid-range and from beyond the 3-point arc.

Offensively the Rams pushed the ball quickly in transition and confidently shot from the perimeter or attacked the rim. Guards Kendle Moore and JD Paige each made a pair of three’s early to push the Rams into an early 12-6 lead that they would never relinquish.

The Rams led 33-30 at the half after Fresno guard Deshon Taylor converted a free throw awarded from a technical foul called on Medved (more on that later)

Fresno had come from behind in all but one of their conference wins, the most recent over San Diego State where they overcame a 20-point deficit. It was imperative that the Rams start the second half assertively and that they did as they played their best extended period of basketball over the first 7 minutes, outscoring the Bulldogs 20-5 and pushing their lead to 53-35.

They did it by dumping the ball inside to Carvacho who had been held scoreless in the first stanza and with effective shooting from the perimeter, including a pair from guard Anthony Masinton-Bonner.

The game was made interesting down the stretch only because of effective free throw defense by Fresno. The Bulldogs fouled with regularity, then stood outside the lane and watched as CSU shot 3-11 from the charity stripe. The lead was cut to 4 with 1:10 remaining and then came the play that cemented the game.

The Rams were killing clock and the ball was in Moore’s hands. He used his speed to attack the rim, then finished high off the glass as he was being fouled. When he converted the free throw, the Rams led by 7 and they closed the game out.

Paige led the way with 17 points, Moore had 16, guards Hyron Edwards and Kris Martin delivered 12 and 11 respectively. Carvacho would,fall a free throw short of a double-double finishing with 9 points and 14 rebounds. All players scored in quiet fashion, a testament to the way the Rams share the ball and rarely force shots out of the structure of their offense. Lots of scorers and sharing the ball make the Rams a tough guard for opponents

More stuff…

Kris Martin – I’m not a big fan of Player of the Game awards but I feel obligated to point out that I thought he was the most effective player on the floor. His line – 11 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists with only 1 turnover, and 4 steals. A month ago you wouldn’t have seen a line like that but Martin has worked hard to make himself a better player. I talked a little bit with Coach Medved after the game and he told,me that they have been working with him of defensive fundamentals of stance and positioning so that he can anticipate rather than react on the defensive end. Two of his steals were exceptional. One was helping off his man on a bounce pass into the paint. The other was even more spectacular as he used his length and athleticism to steal a pass to the wing. Because of his quickness and ballhandling skills, Martin’s steals often result in fast transition opportunities. When he makes good decisions in the open court, the Rams get a lot better.

Officiating – The crowd was not happy with the officiating. coach Medved was not happy with what looked like three consecutive bad calls against CSU right in front of him and his expression of displeasure produced a technical foul. In his post-game pressed he made it clear that he doesn’t like costing his team but that he’s competitive too and wanted to let the officials know that.

First off, officiating college basketball games is not easy. I remember talking with Tim Miles about it and he said that officials make mistakes but players and coaches usually make more mistakes over the course of a game.

But There is a dearth of quality officials at the D-1 level and it is exacerbated on Saturdays when most teams have games scheduled. There simply are not enough good refs on Saturdays and the good ones usually work the bigger conference games.

Ken Pomeroy has a system by which he estimated where a ref is in the pecking order by the quality of the games they officiate. Its logical to assume that highly considered officials work games with team that are higher ranked more often.

The officials for the CSU-Fresno State game were ranked 48, 102, and 140. The officials for the top game in the West yesterday(Washington@Oregon State) were ranked 41, 151, and 174. Bottom line is that the CSU-Fresno State game was probably officiated better than that Washington-OSU game.

More on officiating – The officiating crew at the New Mexico – Utah State game yesterday made an egregious error down the stretch that may have cost New Mexico a win. It was so egregious that the Mountain West later acknowledged the error with an official statement. The Pomeroy ratings for those officials – 144, 178, 197. Utah State is ranked higher than Fresno and New Mexico higher than CSU. Technically a better game but they got lousier refs. You could say that CSU and Fresno were lucky to have that crew.

Fresno State’s Deshon Taylor – Taylor has been a great MWC player in his three seasons at Fresno after transferring from UMKC. A devastating 3-point shooter with range well beyond the arc at nearly 40%. He also has the uncanny ability to get defenders off balance to create contact and trips to the free throw line. Playground moves galore. He kept Fresno in the game yesterday, scoring 25 and added 6 rebounds and 7 assists. After the game I shook his hand and told him how much I appreciated the way he’s played in Moby. The fun part of being a season ticket holder over many years is that you get to watch players develop over several years and some of them create indelible memories.

PETA on Alert as Rams Kick the Stuffing Out of the UNM Wild Dogs 91-76

January 14, 2019

Anybody remember the game in Moby last year when these two teams met? The Lobos ran out to a 49-19 lead over the first 15 minutes and laughed their way to an easy win. It was so bad that the officials were beating the Rams up the floor.

A funny thing happened on the way to this year’s match-up.

The teams found a way to reverse roles as the CSU Rams played their most comprehensive game of the season as they rolled to a blowout win in front of their faithful.

CSU was the team getting up and down the court with speed, led by the jet quick guard tandem of Frosh Kendle Moore and first year transfer Hyron Edwards. The two of them were Dervishes on the defensive perimeter, fast to defeat the Lobos full-court press, and absolutely devastating against the Lobos 2-3 zone.

The Rams gave up the first point of the game on a free throw but immediately countered with three consecutive three-balls. Two of them were by Frosh Adam Thistlewood. All of them were assisted by Moore.

And the Rams never looked back as they consistently killed the Lobos in the paint, either with clever finishes at the rim by an undefendable Nico Carvacho, or short pull-up jumpers by Edwards and JD Paige. They went into the locker room with a 48-38 advantage, shooting 60+ percent and scoring an amazing 32 points in the paint!

Defensively, their post defense was causing all kinds of problems for the Lobos as they were effectively denying entry passes, double teaming and rotating well. New Mexico is the 10th tallest team in the country. CSU is the 240th tallest. Yet the Rams were consistently winning the battle in the interior and achieving a stalemate on the glass.

New Mexico adjusted by calling off the full court press to start the second half, turning the game into one of half-court execution. And the Lobos looked to have the opportunity to play their way back into it when Carvacho picked up his 3rd found just seconds into the half.

Enter sophomore Logan Ryan. Ryan has seen some minutes in the first half spelling Carvach. If the Rams were to hang on, he would have to provide quite a few minutes.

He did more than that.

He defended the New Mexico posts effectively with great effort to establish good position. On offense he floated stealthily along the baseline and when dribble penetration by the Ram guards cracked the zone open, Ryan was there to finish with aplomb at the rim.

The Rams just didn’t hang on. They built upon their margin with Ryan playing the best minutes of his short Ram career to date. The lead which had hovered around 10 grew to the high teens.

Carvacho would return and then sit with a 4th foul and on came Ryan to finish the job. Ryan finally went to the bench inside of 5 minutes to a standing ovation from an appreciative crowd. The Rams led 76-58. Ryan was 4-4 from the field, 4-4 from the line, with 3 rebounds and 1 blocked shot.

The Rams would push the lead to 25, punctuated by a Kendle Moore steal and lay-in before Coach Niko Medved would,empty the bench. The final 15-point margin flattered the Lobos who scored the final 10 points of the game as Coach Paul Weir continued to play his starters.

Edwards would finish with a career high 20 points. Carvacho and Thistlewood finished with 16 each. Paige had one of great quiet games in recent memory with 14 points, 6 assists, 0 turnovers. And of course Ryan finished with 12.

But it was the Rams sharing the ball that led to all the scoring and was the real story. They finished the game with 26 assists against only 9 turnovers. Moore led the way with 9 and Kris Martin, making his first start in place of injured Anthony Masinton-Bonner had 7.

A week earlier, New Mexico had throttled 6th ranked Nevada by 27. A week later the Lobos would be the ones sent home licking their wounds.

Other Stuff

Kris Martin and Hyron Edwards – The Rams sudden emergence to competence has been driven by the emergence of Kris Martin and Hyron Edwards. Two talented transfers for sure but both were struggling to really contribute from their roles off the bench. In fact, CSU’s bench play had been virtually non-existent.

Until earlier in the week against Air Force when both Martin and Edwards had played very effectively on both ends of the floor. Their emergence is not a surprise. Anybody who watched them play in intra-squad scrimmages at the beginning of the season could tell you that they are as talented as anyone on the roster.

They are now bonafide MWC players.

Kendle Moore – There is a lot to love about his style of play. It finally struck me that its very much like a small guard who played for years in the NBA and is now coaching Alabama. Avery Johnson. Fast, bouncy, infectious enthusiasm, tenacious, team first.

In the two home games vs Air Force and UNM this week, he averaged 15.5 points, 7 assists, and 3 steals. Pretty heady stuff for a freshman.

But he’s just flat out fun to watch too. Helping everyone up off the floor including opponents. Hugging a fan on the sideline after tipping a ball out of bounds that hit her.

His mom was visiting from Illinois this week. She told me “Kendle is a keeper.” Kendle responded by saying that maybe he should have his mom move in with him since he played so well with her around. After realizing what he just said, he followed with “Nah”.

This coaching staff – I’ve shared how much I love talking with members of this staff. After the New Mexico game I talked with Dave Thorson who is as sound a technical coach as there is. I told him how impressed I was with how far Kris Martin has developed defensively and how well I thought he defended vs New Mexico. Thorson talked in terms of the importance of fractions and tenths of seconds defending the Lobos as they run along the baseline off screens and how they worked with Kris in terms of where they could or couldn’t catch the ball. Amazing level of detail that goes into this stuff.

One final thought – I watch for little things during games. Body language and how teammates interact. Watch the way CSU players help each other up. Watch the way the guys on the bench, even assistants, react to a good play on the floor. The head coach stresses Team Together and it shows. More than once I saw a UNM player on the ground and none of his teammates help him get up. More than once I saw CSU players help UNM players up. Little things like that can tell you a lot.