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The Birth of The Magnificent Seven

January 8, 2017

News came last week that three of the ten active players on CSU’s Mens’ Basketball roster were academically ineligible.  The three would be able to play until the start of the second semester. So it was only a matter of time before CSU would be forced to play with a 7-man rotation.

That time came in the second half of the game with Air Force.

 A starting five of guards Gian Clavell, Prentiss Nixon, JD Paige and forwards Emmanuel Omogbo and Nico Carvacho.  Guard Anthony Bonner and forward Braden Koelliker off the bench.

And if the second half proves to be a leading indicator of where this team is headed, Ram fans should be buying, buying, buying into this team.

Because the Rams wore down the deeper Falcons with their defensive intensity and unleashed a heretofore unseen offense as they shredded Air Force both inside and out.

On defense, the Rams were dealing with all of the precise motion, screens, and cuts of Air Force’s offense by doing a lot of switching.  It had cost them a bit in the first half as poor communication on the switches led to some wide open layups for the Falcons.  The beauty of the Princeton offense is that it was designed to create mismatches with good shooting bigs on the perimeter and the ability to post guys down low.

Switching defenses are not easy to play against Princeton offenses. Guards get stuck on bigs and the resulting mismatch in the post can create a lot of easy looks. Unless your guards defend intelligently and physically.  And that is what the Rams did as players like JD Paige (who was visibly ill and somehow persevered for 30+ minutes), Prentiss Nixon, Anthony Bonner, and Gian Clavell never once backed down to the challenges they faced defending the interior.  Only once in the second half did the Rams give up a layup.  Every other shot inside the arc was heavily contested.  And they were active with their hands, creating turnovers for some easy runout hoops.  In short, the Rams delivered a master class defensively.

Air Force was clearly concerned about defending the paint and not giving second chance points so they were very much packed in defensively with a 2-3 zone for most of the game.  In the second half, CSU moved the ball crisply and had really good spacing that created a lot of open looks from beyond the arc.  Six of the seven CSU players buried 3-balls in the second half.  Gian Clavell made a bunch of them but all were making their open looks.  

The end result…

50-21 in favor of the Rams in the first 15+ minutes.

Like any team at this point in the season, there are still some things to work on.  Especially when it comes to taking fouls.  With only seven players, you have to be really good at avoiding silly fouls.  There were a few committed during this game that fall into this category.  Aggressive defense can result in fouls but there are good ones to take (as in preventing a layup) and bad ones to take (like a weak hold of a player who is not in position to hurt you offensively).

That being said, here’s the deal.

The collective motor of this group of seven players is extraordinary.  Emmanuel Omogbo is relentless over the full 94′ as he runs, guards, rebounds.  The 4 guards are collectively the toughest group of defenders seen in Moby in I dont know how long.  And bigs Carvacho and Koelliker really understand their roles in how best to contribute on both ends of the floor with their effort and their skills.

Yesterday was a snippet of what is possible with this group.  There’s still a lot of season ahead of them and the distinct possibility of lots of twists and turns to the plot.

But when given the opportunity yesterday, this group of players showed what can happen when seven become one.

Folks, I give you The Magnificent Seven. (Special thanks to Rams4Three for his fantastic artwork)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave Weber permalink
    January 10, 2017 4:25 am

    I love the “Magnificent Seven” idea! It’s a great way to turn a negative into a positive and maybe inspire the team to overachieve. I just e-mailed the CSU band director suggesting that the Pep Band play the Magnificent Seven theme song at games for the rest of the season.

    • January 10, 2017 4:34 am

      What an awesome idea!

      • Dave Weber permalink
        January 27, 2017 10:58 pm

        Hey Swoll –

        I just heard back from the CSU band director. They love the Magnificent 7 idea and plan to be playing it at Moby before the end of the season!

        All the best,

        Dave Weber

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