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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee

November 1, 2021

So sit back and enjoy your favorite blend as I muse on yesterdays exhibition victory over the visitors from Adams State. For me it will be a Green Mountain Breakfast Blend as I write.

For the record, the Rams won the game 92-55.

I try not to draw too many conclusions from games like these. Adams State is a middle of the pack RMAC team that plays at the Division 2 level. They have guys who can play basketball. They dont have the breadth and depth of a roster than can stay with a decent division 1 program over 40 minutes as long as said D-1 shows up.

Which isn’t always the case I suppose. Over the weekend a decent Pepperdine squad lost an exhibition game to NAIA Point Loma Nazarene. They lost by a score of 77-50. So those are the types of things that can happen when you have young people playing games. Not very often mind you.

And when I say the D-1 team shows up I mean that they arrive in the right frame of mind ready to execute what they have been practicing over the entire 94’ of hardwood. Glitches are expected. Mistakes are tolerated to some degree as long as they are one off and not repeated. Thats why they play these types of games.

So when CSU had two turnovers and one airball on their first three possessions there was no need to draw any conclusions. That put them on track for 80 turnovers and 0-40 from the field for the game. It was a crummy start but thats all it was.

And when the first subs came in for the Rams, they was no need to draw any conclusions as they muddled their way around the court, looking like they had never played together. Which in all honesty they hadn’t in a real game in front of a real crowd.

And so when the Rams trailed 19-18 a little beyond midway in the first half, there wasn’t any real need to worry. Eventually, quality will emerge as long as the effort is there. Which it was.

The Rams were bigger and beefier than their opponents. And much like a football team does with their ground game, they were in the process of wearing their opponents down. Especially with their defense. Adams State had guys make good contested shots early. But as the half wore on, their possessions got longer and longer as they probed for any open shot. The Rams were not having it.

Next thing you know, the Rams had gone on an extended 25-3 run to lead 43-22 at the half. It was stout defense leading to good offense. The visitors were 0-11 from the field with 4 turnovers during the run, scoring only on free throws.

The second half went much the same as the first and the Rams had scored their expected victory.

The only conclusion I’m ready to draw from the game?

This team can be really good if they can stay committed to relentless execution. They have players that can do the spectacular but it will be how well the 5 players on the floor operate as one that determines their fate. The discipline to do what they have been taught. Yes there are runs by both teams during a game, but games are won over 40 minutes.

So my theme for this year will be ”Relentless Execution”.

The Emergence of the Bigs

The Rams have a pair of nice young bigs in Dischon Thomas and James Moors. They were OK last season but for the Rams to take the next step, there needs to be continuous improvement. Both have bulked up in the off-season and look far more ready to provide a presence in the paint.

Thomas began the game as the starting big. He began last season as the starter but gave way to Moors about 1/3 of the way through the season. I dont make a big deal about who starts and who doesnt. All I know is that Thomas delivered a sound performance. 14 points and 6 rebounds over 19 minutes. 2-3 from beyond the arc.

As for James Moors, he put on a layup clinic in the second half, going 5-5 over a two-minute stretch. He would finish with 17 points and 4 rebounds over 15 minutes. 7-8 from the field with his only miss being a 3-pointer that would have brought the house down as CSU executed an extra pass on the perimeter clinic.

The tandem of Thomas and Moors combined for 31 points and 10 rebounds over 34 minutes. The Rams will win a lot of games this year if thats the production they get from their bigs.

How Much Has Isaiah Stevens Improved?

This was posted on Twitter by someone whose judgment on basketball is highly respected. Not just in the CSU community but in the college basketball world in general.

And it mirrors what I have seen in the few practices I have attended.

Isaiah Stevens is back and he’s improved. He has worked hard in the off-season to improve his body. He has gained higher elevation on his jump shot making him more dangerous in the paint, he has improved his range from the perimeter. Better playmaking as well. He would finish the game against Adams State with 19 points and 6 assists

The 19 points came on 7-9 shooting including 4-5 from beyond the arc. A nearly flawless performance.

Small Ball

Last season the Rams played a very effective small ball lineup that featured David Roddy, Adam Thistlewood, John Tonje, Kendle Moore, and Isaiah Stevens. A lineup that was just by one advanced statistical website as being the 2nd most efficient 5-man lineup in the country.

CSU has more options this year with the addition of graduate transfer Chandler Jacobs and the first time they rolled out the small ball lineup, Jacobs was there in place of Thistlewood. It will be something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

David Roddy

…delivered another double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds. I hate to say its something we have come to expect but quite frankly, its something we have come to expect.

But his finest play came in the first half as he was defending the ball late in the shot clock near the elbow. A stuff block by roddy, an immediate retrieval of the ball, a high speed dribble drive the length of the floor concluded with a layup and a foul. Not the typical kindof play you expect out of a ^’5”, 250-pounder. But then again Roddy is not your typical player.

I felt obligated to post

That Tweet was quickly replied to by Kevin Lytle of The Coloradoan with what I thought was the Tweet of the Night.

Can Freshman Jalen Lake Emerge This Season?

Lake saw 13 minutes on the floor against Adams State as the 10th player. He shot 2-3 from beyond the arc and finished with 6 points. While still a little raw, he showed that he will be making a play for more than scrub time minutes over the course of the season. Regardless of how it ends up this season, make no mistake about it regarding Lake. He is a future All-MWC shooting guard once his body fills out.

Normally that would say that the pressure is on Coach Niko Medved to figure it out. But for anyone who has watched Medved since he has come to Fort Collins, he is more than willing to start and play younger players ahead of veterans if they earn it. So the pressure isn’t on Medved. The pressure is on the other players to make sure they continue to play at a high enough level to keep Lake from taking their minutes.

Competition for minutes is a great problem to have.

And Finally…

Kudos to the CSU Athletic Department for having the Band and Cheer Squads for an exhibition game. They didnt have to do it but they did. It made for a far better atmosphere for the 2500+ in attendance.

All we were missing was our buddy Zimbo doing the other music.

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