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The Colorado State – Air Force Basketball Rivalry

January 11, 2015

There was an incident in yesterday’s CSU game at Clune Arena that wasn’t pretty.

JJ Avila went over the back of Air Force’s Joey Kocur trying to get an offensive rebound. He was whistled for a foul. But with ball in one hand, his other arm was grabbed and pulled by Kocur as he fell to the floor, pulling Avila with him. Avila rolled over on Kocur and wrapped his arm around Kocur’s neck as he was trying to get up. Air Force’s Matt Mooney decided to get involved and punched Avila in the back. A melee ensued that took the officials about 15 minutes to sort out.

And i started thinking (which is dangerous in itself), where have I seen this before? And more than one incident came to mind immediately.

In 2013 at Clune Arena, CSU was comfortably leading in the second half when a loose ball rolled toward the CSU bench. CSu’s Colton Iverson, who was unstoppable that game, pursued the ball. So did Chase Kammerer, a lug of a player who was int eh game for one reason – to try to push Iverson around. Kammerer tackled Iverson going for the ball, shoving him hard into the CSU bench. No foul called but a dirty play nonetheless. (And in an odd twist, the referee who was closest to the play was a guy named Jon Stigliano. Stigliano worked yesterday’s game as well and was the one pushing Avila away from the scrum).

In 2012, CSU went down to Clune Arena for their final game of the regular season, badly needing a win to keep their NCAA At-Large bid hopes alive. The game was close in the second half when CSU created a pair of turnovers after switching into a zone. On the second one, Wes Eikmeier was fouled. As he was walking toward the free throw line, he was bumped hard by a freshman guard named Max Yon (yes the very same Yon that scored 25 yesterday). Yon was awarded a technical foul, Eikmeier calmly drained 4 free throws , the ensuing possession resulted in a Will Bell dunk, and the Rams had the margin they needed to record a huge win.

It was current Air Force coach Dave Philopovich’s first game against CSU that day. He had been put in the position to replace Jeff Reynolds, who had been fired mid-season. Fired right after he and his team were soundly defeated at Moby Arena. After he had to perform the walk of shame in front of the CSU bench and Moby faithful after being tossed for a pair of technical fouls.

The only other event I recall was not a pretty one either.

In happened in about 2006.

Dale Layer was coaching CSU and I’m pretty sure Jeff Bzdelik had taken over at Air Force. Air Force’s Jacob Burtschi was awarded a timeout as he stumbled out of bounds making a steal. Layer came on the court to protest the call. Biurtschi, who had been trash-talking with the CSU bench, ran over Layer on the way to the Air Force bench. CSU’s Freddie Robinson came off the bench to let Burtschi know he wasnt happy. A near melee ensued. Robinson received a T and was tossed from the game, the Falcons tied the game on the technical free throws, and Air Force went on to score a come-from-behind victory.

I’ve been searching my memory banks for anything close to these in recent years vs. Wyoming. Sure there have been technical fouls but I don’t remember player-player or player-coach incidents like there have been in the CSU-Air Force games.

Lots of bitter when the Rams and Falcons meet.

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