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Colorado State 75 – Regis 60

November 9, 2016

Happy Hew Year Ram hoops fans!

I gotta come clean.  I sat down to write this immediately after returning home form the game but was unable to collect y thoughts because of what was happening on a day of the most extraordinary conclusion to a presidential election as has happened in my lifetime.

And I also have to come clean regarding how I voted.  I am a lifelong Republican and have never voted for a Democrat for the office of President of the United States.  

Until now.

I voted for Hillary Clinton because I thought she would make a better leader of this great country of ours.  I have never been a big fan of hers but thought she was superior to her opponent.  It was a brutally awful campaign of painful negative rhetoric by both sides.  And I was disgusted by it.  I am glad its over.

That being said, I was excited to see a different Donald Trump during his acceptance speech.  Not the crass, obnoxious attacking New Yorker but an American who expressed interest in healing the wounds and divisiveness that are pervasive and deep.

Now on to the game….

The Colorado State mens basketball team kicked off their 2016-17 season with a solid win over the D-2 visitors from the south in front of a loyal but a bit smallish crowd.  

This 2016-17 edition is a very new team without a lot of game experience together.  Seniors Gian Clavell and Emmanuel Omogbo are the two most familiar faces.  They were joined in the starting lineup by a pair of sophomores (JD Paige and Prentiss Nixon) and redshirt freshman big Niko Carvacho.  And all eyes were watching to see if this group could elevate their level of defense over last years squad whil finding rhe movement and chemistry on the offensive end to be effective in putting points on the board.

The early defense was good, Clavell nailed a pair of three-balls, and Carvacho went to work inside as the Rams ran out to an early 10-point lead.  On came a bunch of newcomers off the bench and the Rams immediately fell victim to shoddy defense, careless turnovers, soft play on the boards, and generally poor play. A Regis layup propelled the Rangers into a short-lived lead.  Back came the Rams starters and the Rams were able to go into the locker room at half with a 34-29 lead.

But then the tenor of the game changed.

Larry Eustachy did what he does best at halftime.  He decided to shorten the bench, attack the paint offensively, and challenge his team to defend and finish by winning on the glass.

Offensively, the ball started to go inside more regularly to Carvacho and he delivered.  Omogbo got the ball in positions where he could use his strengths to slash his way all the way to the basket.  Omogbo also woke up on the glass and began to grab every board in his reach.  The defense was steady but Regis hung tough as the Rams got a little careless on the offensive end with a few bad turnovers.

On came subs Devocio Butler and Braden Koelliker.   Butler parlayed a solid defensive effort into a steal and layup. Koellier showed all-around skills on both ends of the floor.

The Rams eventually pulled away to win by a comfortable margin.

It was not a work of art but that is to be expected when a new team starts out a season.  Butt there were lots of positive signs in that second half.

Gian Clavell struggled offensively but let the game come to him in the second half rather than forcing shots.  Emmanuel Omogbo dominated on the glass. Niko Carvacho showed strong presence in the paint, a great pair of hands, and passing skills.  JD Paige delivered the hoop of the game with a strong baseline drive and two hand flush but it was his steady performance on both ends of the floor that stood out.  Prentiss Nixon started to look more comfortable moving from an energy role off the bench to backcourt leader.  Braden Koelliker showed an all-round game, finishing strongly at the rim, passing effectively in the interior, and defending intelligently.  Devocio Butler showed defensive tenacity.

There is lots of room for growth with the other three players. Kimani Jackson sat out due to illness. Anthony Bonner was visibly nervous. Che Bob made a couple of good plays but has the opportunity to develop focus on toughness at both ends of the floor.  All three will be counted on over the course of the season.

This year’s Ram squad was picked to finish 7th in the MWC in the pre-season polls.  They currently own a good number of the requisite skills to be a pretty good team.  

And as we all learned after last night, polls dont mean a thing when it comes to winning and losing.

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