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Rams Outclass Doane in Holiday Tune-up 87-62

December 29, 2019

Let’s face it.

This game wasn’t scheduled to be a strategic match-up. It was a game scheduled as a buffer between a solid non-conference schedule and the rigors of an MWC conference schedule. After a pre-Christmas road match-up in Tulsa, the players and coaches were given 5 days off for purposes other than basketball.

And for 10 minutes the Rams treated this game as nothing but a chance to get on the Moby floor together continuing the holiday spirit of “‘Tis better to give than to receive.” The early scoreboard stats showed the Rams trailing the much smaller visitors 11-2 on the glass. That was enough to push the Tigers into a 16-9 lead on the part of the scoreboard that matters.

The visitors from Crete (not the island but a small town in Nebraska) were playing a 3-2 zone and not challenging the Rams on the perimeter. Wide open looks from 3 were taken and missed and the Tigers were grabbing every carom. On the defensive end, the Rams were defending with little passion against the smaller, slower visitors and enough shots were dropping for the Tigers to be near 50%.

CSU mounted a bit of a comeback to take a 40-34 lead into the locker room, the last basket coming on an extraordinary tip by reserve guard PJ Byrd as he flew in from the wing and somehow touched the ball high off the glass before it found its way home. It was a bit of a harbinger of what would develop in the second half.

Not much changed in the early minutes of the second half. The Rams were scoring but not defending with their normal energy. Doane had made some changes to their offense and were finding junior guard Anthony Laravie who was abusing every defender the Rams through at him.

Yes Laravie was heating up but it came with little resistance. With nearly 30 minutes gone in the game, the Rams had committed all of 3 fouls. While the objective of the game is to defend without fouling, fouls come through aggression and as we all know,the aggressor always wins.

And then Byrd came off the bench to ignite the Rams.

For those that dont know of him, PJ Byrd transferred to CSU in the off-season from Virginia Commonwealth University where he was the backup point guard for an NCAA At-Large team in 2018-19. VCU is known to play with an edginess to them and PJ fits that mold to a T.

He shut down Laravie on the defensive end, ignited several fast breaks with his hustle, and made it easy for CSU to finish at the rim with crisp passes.

CSU went on a huge run and the game was no longer in the balance.

The scorebook will show that David Roddy and Kris Martin led the way with 17 points each and Nico Carvacho would add 14 on 7-7 shooting.

But there was no player more important to the Rams than PJ Byrd on this afternoon as he finished with 5 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal in only 18 minutes of action. And the dirtiest nose on the defensive end.

Other Stuff

Its easy to minimize other things that happened in this game because of the nature of it being a tune-up but there were some important things that happened.

First, sophomore forward Adam Thistlewood missed the game with a sprained ankle. Thistlewood is good for 11 points and 6 rebounds and is the Rams’ most effective perimeter shooter. Doane challenged the Rams to shoot from the outside and Kris Martin stepped up, nailing 5-11 from beyond the arc. Martin has been shooting less than 30% on the season to date and that in itself is a bit of a disappointment. Because he regularly wins three-point shooting drills in practice. If he starts to shoot at the level he is a capable of, the Rams will be a much tougher out in conference play.

15 games into their careers and the Fabu Frosh Four are continuing to show their development. Forward David Roddy delivered another 17-point effort, overpowering his opponents today in the paint. Guard Isaiah Stevens had a quiet 10 point and 6 assist effort. Big Dischon Thomas had 7 points and 6 rebounds in 15 minutes. And win John Tonje had 6 points.

Hyron Edwards continued his solid play off the bench (8pts, 3rbs, 2a) and with Byrd coming on the way he did, CSU has a lot of depth at the guard position alongside starters Stevens and Kendle Moore. Their challenge is to play with an edge from the opening whistle such that the depth can be played to create advantage.

National Anthem

First off, I’m a sucker for new and different things like the National Anthem. Second, I’m really a sucker when its really well done. And third, I’m a sucker for young talented kids performing. The performance was beautiful.

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