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Colorado State 69 – Omaha 42

November 12, 2016

The Colorado State began their 2016-17 season in style with a resounding first-round Preseason-NIT win over the Summit League visitors. Visitors formerly known as The University of Nebraska-Omaha. Or UNO.  Its easy to understand the name change.  Wouldnt you rather be known as the team that Peyton Manning thought of every time he came to the line of scrimmage? And not as a family card game?

The Rams won handily as they never trailed. An early banked in three-ball pulled Omaha to a 3-3 tie but that was it as the Rams displayed their trademark switching man-to-man defense on one end and a patient zone offense on the other to steadily put the game on ice.

What is it about 2nd quarters with this program?

The Rams led 16-8 after one but outscored their opponents 15-4 in building an insurmountable 31-12 halftime lead.  Liberal substitution in the 3rd quarter kept the margin the same but when Coach Ryun Williams rolled out the starters to begin the 4th quarter, the Rams pushed the margin to 30 before it was time to rest.

The Rams were led as expected by seniors Ellen Nystrom and Elie Gustavsson.  Nystrom’s line read 22,5, and 5. Gustavsson’ read 13 and 8.  Elie was very good as she scored at the rim and on graceful pull-up jumpers.  Nystrom’s performance was sublime.  4-4 from the free throw line, 2-2 from beyond the arc, but the best was a lefty half-hook from 10′ that banked high off the glass and cleanly through the hoop.  Are you kidding me?  There are guys in the NBA that dont have that shot.

But as we all know, this is a 5-man game and the others made strides form the opening exhibition a week ago.  The most improved is Hannah Tvrdy, a 2nd year transfer from Nebraska, who does all the little things well. Tvrdy had only 5 points but grabbed a ton of rebounds including several consecutive on the offensive end.  Her leadership skills help take the pressure off Nystrom and free Ellen up to do her thing.  Add Veronika Mrkovic and my new fave Sofie Trygerdsson to the mix and as they grow, so will the team.

But it is the concept of team and especially team defense which is allowing the program of 5th year coach Ryun Williams to thrive.  They are strong both physically and mentally which allows them to effectively defend what appear to be mismatches caused by their switching style.  Bigs defending on the perimeter, guards defending the post.  It doesnt matter as these women fight their way into proper defending positions.

Other Thoughts…

My wife commented to me that the crowd, while not large, was very loud and enthusiastic.  I wish more people would show up and support these young ladies.  We have been fortunate enough to have a pair of 4-year players from Sweden whose record now stands at a remarkable 80-18 since they’ve played here. Ryun Williams’ program has won over 30 straight regular season home games.  They play the game well, they play the game hard, and they play it right.

I do know this. I’m a lucky man to be able to spend 15 or 20 days every winter with these wonderful ladies.

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