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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee – CSU Hoops Opener Edition

November 8, 2021

Yes the 2021-22 College Basketball season is finally upon us.

So grab a cup of your favorite brew as I do my best to entertain you. As I write this I’m nailing a Seattle’s Best Portside Blend, a bit of a strong medium roast to really get me going.

Openers Around the Mountain West on Tuesday

The top teams in the MWC all open on Tuesday night. And all of the openers are at home. Here’s a list of MWC games this week and kenpom.com’s expected scores.

San Diego State opens with a very underrated UC-Riverside. The Aztecs played UCLA tough in a secret scrimmage but then struggled to score in a home exhibition win over St Katherine’s. They are deep and athletic but look to have an issue from the perimeter. UC-Riverside was good enough to defeat Washington by 15 last season and take a really good USC to OT. The Highlanders (I guess Riverside is considered the Highlands in California) are a solid defensive program and I think this game will be a lot closer than expected. Not so much because of SDSU but because of UC-R’s quality.

Nevada opens with Eastern Washington. That might have been an interesting game last season but EWU has lost a ton of players to the portal and their coach to Portland. Nevada has added a few impact transfers and will be a threat to finish a relatively weak non-conference schedule undefeated. This game has blowout written all over it.

Boise State opens with Utah Valley. The Broncos have a strong starting lineup but will need the non-conference schedule to develop depth if they are to make a run in the MWC. They’ll roll over Utah Valley in this one.

Utah State opens with UC-Davis. The Logan Aggies lost their coach and three starters including all-MWC center Neemias Queta. New Head Coach Ryun Odom (from UMBC) brought his two best players from UMBC. The Aggies will be experienced and mature but will need the non-conference schedule to develop the necessary chemistry to compete in the MWC. Another double-digit win incoming for the MWC.

And then there’s the Rams…

If You Know Me, You Know I Hate Doing Game Previews

I think they’re mostly a waste of time.

Oral Roberts caught fire midway through last season and parlayed that into an NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen appearance. They were a missed three-ball away from the Elite Eight. They lost a key player to the portal (Texas Tech) but return three starters including 2021 leading scorer in the nation Max Abmas. They play fast and they shoot well from the perimeter. They will offer the Rams a huge challenge. The Rams have a bit of a chemistry advantage having returned their Top 8 but the Golden Eagles are riding a hell of a wave of momentum from last season.

I expect it to be a highly entertaining game full of fast and furious transition basketball.

Speaking of Max Abmas

The 6’1 175-pound junior is commonly referred to as Midcourt Max. He is fearless when it comes to launching deep three-balls. He’s also a good enough ballhandler that he can get into the paint and distribute to teammates, finish, or get fouled. In 2021 he shot 43% from the perimeter, 52% from two, 89% from the free throw line.

Abmas hails from Rockwall, TX, a suburb of Dallas. Not far away from where CSU star Isaiah Stevens grew up in Allen, TX.

I had a chance to touch bases with Isaiah after a practice last Friday. I asked him if he had run into Abmas in his earlier days. Isaiah revealed that they go back as far as elementary school when it came to playing against each other. They saw each other growing up on the AAU circuit and played each other in high school since their two schools were in the same district. And they even ran into each other this summer as they worked out with the same professional trainer.

I asked Isaiah about their relationship and he categorized it as ”Cordial”.

Im not sure how much they’ll be matched up against each other on Tuesday but it will be a treat to watch two of the finest from the Metroplex.

David Roddy’s Drive to Improve

There was a tremendous article written by the Denver Post’s Sean Keeler over the weekend that gives some pretty amazing insight from his earlier AAU mentor. Roddy is driven to be the absolute best he can be. When I attend practices I am amazed at how competitive he is no matter what the drill. More than once I’ve seen the coaching staff ask another player to get involved because David is taking more reps than anyone.

As far as his improved passing ability, his improved ballhandling makes him devastating leading the Rams in transition. He can get to the rim and finish or draw multiple defenders on his way to the rim, creating openings for perimeter shooters. He is a very difficult player to stop in transition with a single defender.

I suggest you take a look at the article. Here’s the link:

I’m Anticipating the Biggest Home Opening Crowd In Years

So I was out on the csurams.com web-site on Friday to see how many tickets were available to the General Public. It appeared that there were only about 200 seats for sale at the time. Some further checking revealed that there were about 4500 tickets already out for the Oral Roberts game of which only 200 were student tickets. That means that if the student show up in swarms as they have for football games in Canvas Stadium, we could see a crowd in the neighborhood of 6500 people.

There is a bit of a caution to that number. A little birdie told me that roughly 1500 seats were distributed to Moby Loft sponsor FNBO as part of the sponsorship deal to be made available to their employees. There are no guarantees that 100% of those tickets will be turned into spectators. Even so, the crowd on Tuesday should be the largest since the NCAA At-Large seasons during the Tim Miles Era. (Yes I know Larry Eustachy was the coach in 2012-13. The attendance was driven by the popularity of the team that Tim Miles had assembled.)

Gametime is 7:30PM, The CSU Women have a game at 5:00PM. With the size of the crowd, the COVID protocols, and metal detectors, I strongly recommend planning to arrive early and maybe grabbing a beverage in the Moby Loft.

So here’s what the last 10 years of crowds look like for the home openers:

2011-12Montana4666
2012-13Montana5833
2013-14UC – Colorado Springs4262
2014-15Montana3602
2015-16Loyola Marymount3142
2016-17New Mexico State2264
2017-18Northern Colorado1079
2018-19Colorado Christian2220
2019-20Denver2322
2020-21Northern ArizonaNA (COVID19)
2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 8, 2021 5:18 pm

    Love your stuff Swoll. I’m curious to know your thoughts on kenpom’s ranking of CSU. They have CSU at #72 and finishing 3rd in the MWC, which is quite different from other rankings out there (barttorvik – #44, AP poll – #36, Coaches poll – #37, and the media voted CSU to win the MWC). With that said, BPI has CSU at #69. Is there a reason why kenpom and BPI aren’t as high on CSU? Are there some data points that could be pointing out some inefficiencies we should be concerned about? I know some of the pre-season stuff can be pretty off, especially things like media rankings and the Coaches poll. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

    • November 8, 2021 7:09 pm

      Great question. I looked back historically and Pomeroy has never had CSU higher than 91 to begin a season. Even the 2013 team which finished at 22 started at 91, lower than the 2012 team ended but with everybody back and the additions of Iverson and Bejarano. Pomeroy believes in historical momentum and 5* recruits. But he also has said that one of the greatest predictors is the AP Poll where CSU garnered the 36th highest vote total. Sagarin has CSU something like 39th.

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