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Colorado State 78 – UC-Colorado Springs 60

November 2, 2017

I’m always excited when basketball season begins.  And it always feels like a new year when I venture to Moby Arena to watch either the CSU Men or Women from my familiar seats in Section F, Row 7.

Earlier in the week, instead of watching the Broncos deliver another pathetic performance, I went on a streaming binge with my wife.  The show was a 2-year TV series named “Smash”.  Over the course of 3 nights, we watched 15 episodes of Season 1.

“Smash” is the story about bringing a Broadway musical to life .  Central to the story is the  director’s vision that brings a highly talented but inexperienced actress into the lead role over more established and experienced stars.  

I try not to draw any major conclusions from an early exhibition game.  But it sure felt like this year’s CSU Womens team could very well be a hardwood version of “Smash” with Head Coach Ryun Williams cast as the director.

CSU lost two of their best players ever in Ellen Nystrom and Elie Gustavsson.  They return several players with experience so it was no surprise when the starting line-up included Seniors Stine Austgulen, Hannah Tvrdy and Veronika Mirkovic and junior Sophie Tryggedsson alongside freshman Lore Devos (more on Devos later).

What was a surprise was how poorly that group began the game as they were content to hoist shots from the perimeter and werent exactly defending in a way fans have come to expect out of a Williams-coached team.  Before you knew it, the Rams had fallen behind by double digits at 21-10 and ended the quarter trailing 23-15.

The buzzer sounded, the teams gathered around their coaches.  And out of the CSU huddle came a team of 5 players who were either freshmen or redshirt freshmen. Guards Gracie Colaivalu, Nathalie Linden and Jordyn Edwards, wing Lena Svanholm and post Liah Davis.  They came out with energy,  they came out with a purpose to get the ball into the paint, they came out with a desire to get defensive stops. Colaivalu scored on a driving left-handed layup, Edwards scored in the paint as well as the perimeter, and Davis attacked the rim with power from the post. At the half, the Rams had moved into the lead at 33-32 but more importantly, 5 freshmen had taken the floor and played with the skill and poise of upperclassmen.

The Rams would continue their progress in the 3rd quarter as senior Tvrdy and Mirkovic gained some traction, especially on the glass where the Rams had been badly outplayed in the first half.  Devos began to score inside and out and both Tvrdy and Mirkovic were scoring in the paint.  The Rams pushed their lead to 10 but ended the quarter leading only 47-43 after Colaivalu dimed up Mirkovic for a corner jumper at the buzzer.

Williams went with a predominantly freshman lineup to begin the fourth quarter and the payoff came quickly as Svanholm scored 10 points in the first 3+ minutes.  The Rams had pushed their lead to a comfortable margin and were home free.

When all was said and done, the freshmen , led by Lena Svanholm’s 14 and Lore Devos’ 12 points, had combined for 53 of the Rams’ 78 points. Senior Hannah  Tvrdy recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

They had thrashed the visiting Mountain Lions on the scoreboard but left their director with choices to make as the season progresses. Take the safe route with established veterans or turn to the talents of the rookies.  Obviously there will be a blend of both and that is what makes for the excitement as the director and cast seek their 5th consecutive smash hit.

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