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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee – Top 25 Edition

December 6, 2021

So sit back and grab you favorite brew on this fine December morning while we discuss the latest with this CSU Men’s Basketball program. For me it will be a nice medium roast Colombian, possibly carried down the mountainside by the legendary Juan Valdez and his mule Conchita. You old folks know what I’m talking about.

Juan and Conchita

Or many you’ll grab your favorite brew from your local barista. Plenty of great coffee shops around Fort Collins. None better than this one which was visited by CSU Assistant Coach Ali Farokhmanesh on Saturday AM, prior to the big afternoon clash with St. Mary’s.

Speaking of Farokhmanesh…

He had the all important scout of Saint Mary’s. He was in strong need of that coffee on Saturday morning, having spent much of the last two nights watching film and studying Saint Mary’s to make sure he got it right. Lot os coaching goes on during practice but countless hours are spent developing proper game tactics based upon opponent tendencies. I’d say Ali got it more than right on Saturday. Blowouts of Saint Mary’s are extremely rare unless your name is Gonzaga.

We’ve been blessed to have such fine assistants as part of Coach Medved’s program.

Speaking of CSU Assistants…

In the off-season, CSU lost two assistants to P5 programs and they were replaced with two outstanding assistants in Brian Cooley and Sam Jones. The proof is in the pudding as this CSU team has not skipped a beat on their way to a 9-0 start.

But has anyone noticed who the two biggest surprises are of the P5’s to date. Iowa State and Minnesota. Both undefeated. Both with big wins over other P5’s. Iowa State has already moved into the Top 25. It turns out that former CSU Assistant JR Blount left CSU for Iowa State. And former CSU Assistant Dave Thorson left CSU for Minnesota.

Coincidence?

I think not.

Medved surrounds himself with assistants who are high-character and talented. And winners.

Speaking of Top 25…

Is this the week your Colorado State Rams crack the AP Top 25? 31st in votes last week and a pair of blowout wins over Little Rock and nationally prominent St Mary’s.

I have my fingers crossed.

I would love to see these guys recognized for their achievements to date. On the other hand, winning always takes care of these things in the long run. So whether it’s this week, next week, or the following week doesn’t really matter to me as long as our team stays on the north side of the results.

I do think CSU will squeak in at 25 this week. They are currently the best G5 not named Gonzaga and that will be recognized by the voters.

The Ending to the St. Mary’s Game Really Bothered Me

With 26 seconds remaining and the Rams leading 74-56, Isaiah Rivera had the ball and was prepared to dribble the game out after crossing the midcourt line. Common courtesy that teams show their opponent at the end of the game.

But a Saint Mary’s player by the name of Jabe Mullins decided to slap a double team from behind on Rivera. Saint Mary’s ended up getting the steal, the ball pinballed around for a bit and a foul was called, extending the game for an unnecessary minute. A completely meaningless effort that can only make you laugh. And I felt a bit sad for Mullins.

Because Mullins is a really good player who for some reason is languishing in Moraga. How do I know that Mullins is good? Because CSU recruited him heavily two years ago. The Rams recruit high-character, well-rounded basketball players who can run, pass, shoot, and defend and Mullins fit that mold as a prep.

Of course once in Medved’s CSU program, development is key and just maybe he’s better at developing players than Saint Mary’s Randy Bennett. I know one thing. CSU players under Medved won’t do something as cheesy as Mullins did on Saturday.

The Development of Freshman Jalen Lake

Speaking of development, look no further than CSU freshman Jalen Lake who is seeing more and more time on the floor as the season progresses.

Lake came to CSU as a highly touted shooting guard from a top program in Waxahatchie, Texas and he’s already worked his way into the rotation and playing strategic minutes. He possesses fantastic scoring skills from the perimeter and mid-range and is already one of the top perimeter defenders on the team. And the confidence the coaches have in him is growing. First player off the bench on Saturday when Kendle Moore picked up an early second foul. And having a play run for him with 3 seconds left on the clock in the first half.

Because of the strength and depth currently in Fort Collins, he probably won’t get enough minutes on the floor and put up big enough numbers to earn MWC Freshman of the Year. Simpler numbers like points and rebounds usually win those awards. But the advanced analytics have Lake either first or second of all freshman in the Mountain West. He’s the highest ranked freshman at EvanMiya.com and ranked the 29th best player overall in the MWC. He’s the highest rated player at KenPom.com in terms of Offensive Efficiency. And he’s the second rated freshman at BartTorvik.com.

I started to think of whose game he reminded of and I thought back to a day when CSU hosted a very good Wichita State team in 2016. The Shockers had a young redshirt freshman 2-guard that day named Landry Shamet. Shamet was young, rangy and smooth much like Lake. About midway through the game I remember my son and I turning to each other and commenting how good Shamet was. Even though he was young, you could see he was a cut above. Shamet would finish that day in Moby with 11 points including 3-6 from beyond the arc. Not spectacular numbers but you could see where he was headed.

And how have things turned out for Shamet?

After a fantastic sophomore campaign in which he averaged 15 points and 5 assists, he declared for the NBA draft and was selected with the 26th pick in the first round by the Sixers. He’s currently on the Suns’ roster.

Call me nutty, call me cuckoo but I’m going to make a bold prediction.

Jalen Lake’s career will track very closely to Shamet. Consider this first year much like a redshirt season where he gets his feet wet. Then as rosters evolve, he matures physically, and more playing time is available, he moves into the starting lineup and plays a significant role. And by his third year, he’s a first team All-MWC Player and candidate for MWC Player of the Year.

And he’ll be the first CSU underclassman drafted since Jason Smith in 2007.

He’s gonna be that good.

Roddy and Stevens on the Cusp of 1000

Davis Roddy delivered a second half masterclass on Saturday against Saint Mary’s. He would finish with 19 points, which left him one shy of the 1000 point career mark at 999 points. I think its pretty safe to say that Roddy will cross that threshold sometime in the first half against Mississippi State on Saturday.

Isaiah Stevens fisnished with 14 points against the Gaels, moving his total to 986. He’s averaging about 14 a game this year so it will be close on Saturday.

Given the closeness of the two players, it would be awesome if they could hit the milesone in the same game. And how cool would it be if Stevens, the consumate closer, were to score a last-second gamewinner to push him over 1000 while playing in front of family and friends in Dallas-Fort Worth.

I love story books.

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