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Colorado State 64 – New Mexico State 61

November 14, 2016

Plenty of coaches preach that the only thing you can control on the basketball court is your effort.

If that truly is the case, this year’s CSU Ram team are very good listeners as they somehow found a way to exert  the effort required to come away with a win in their season opener over the visitors from Las Cruces, NM.

The Rams came into the game supposedly short-handed with the suspension of their best scorer Gian Clavell.  They certainly were challenged offensively as they shot 33% from the field.  But their heads never went down as they went about their business on the defensive end and on the glass, holding the Aggies to 36% shooting and winning the rebounding battle 47-35.

The Aggies came out of the gate fast and jumped out to a 19-8 lead after only 8 minutes.  The Rams were looking discombobulated on offense, struggling to get good shots and throwing the ball around carelessly.  After a timeout, the Rams began to attack the rim a little more which got them plenty of free throws and their defensive intensity picked up.  Even though they only shot 27% from the field, the Rams trailed by only 32-29 as the teams headed to the locker room.

It looked like the first team to find a run would win the game since scoring from the field was at such a premium.  The Rams opened with the first 6 but the Aggies came back and the game was tight for several minutes. Then newcomer Che Bob happened as he stole the ball at midcourt and dunked hard, bringing the crowd to its feet.  Bob did it again as he ignited a Ram charge in the final 10 minutes with a crazy runner that he banked in while getting fouled.

The Rams pushed the lead to 10 but you could see that they were not home free as they had expended an extraordinary amount of energy and were looking gassed.  But somehow they found a way to keep their nose in front, surviving some Aggie makes from the perimter and full-court pressure.  A JD Paige deflection on the defensive end with 10 seconds remaining, a Paige free throw, and then solid perimeter defense finished off the visitors and gave this bunch of newcomers a great win.

JuCo transfer Braden Koelliker led the way with 21 and 9, scoring craftily at the rim, hustling his way to rebounds, and making his charity tosses. Bob came off the bench to deliver 11 and 8 and veteran leader Emmanuel Omogbo nearly delivered a double-double with 8 and 9.

Those are individual stats.

What won this game was the collective effort on the defensive end. They were led by  JD Paige who delivered 33 minutes of crazy good on the ball defense in the halfcourt, running over tons of screens.  He took a lot of hits and was visibly worn at the end but still delivered. Devocio Butler and Prentiss Nixon on the perimeter, Koelliker and Bob on the wings, Omogbo, Kimani Jackson, and Niko Carvacho in the paint.  It was extraordinary team defense for a group playing their first game together.

1-0 is 1-0.  

One final thought…

My wife is pretty perceptive as a fan. She may not understand everything going on but she noticed one thing thats very different about this team.  She said, “There arent any showboaters on this team.  No showing off. They just play.”

I like teams like that.  A lot.

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