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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee – Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Edition

December 13, 2021

So grab a cup of your favorite brew as we get into some real discussion of the Colorado State victory over Mississippi State in Fort Worth on Saturday in the Naismith HOF Classic. For me it’ll be a Kona today. Kona brings back great memories of when I was much younger, sitting on a porch in Hanalei Bay, Kauai, sipping after a late breakfast with my lovely bride.

And let me wax a little bit about the Naismith Hall of Fame. Yes I have been to Springfield, Massachusetts and walked the Hall of Fame more than once. I have family that lives nearby. I looked for CSU’s Micheal Morris’ sneakers that were donated after his pair of three-pointers in the final second defeated Purdue. Never found them. But I did see something special in the JuCo display. The famous Broome Tech 00 jersey worn by Frank ”Shake and Bake” Streety, my hero growing up in Binghamton, NY. I mentioned Streety last week when talking about Isaiah Stevens.

If you ever get a chance to visit, I highly recommend it. So many cool exhibits.

Anatomy of a Game Plan

If you listened to my regular segment on the Brady Hull Show on Friday (1310am), I was asked about the keys to the game against Mississippi State. I very much focused on the rebounding prowess of the Bulldogs. Ranked in the Top 15 in both Offensive and Defensive rebounding. I compared then very favorably to last year’s Utah State team, a squad that took two out of three games from the Rams.

Brian Cooley

I had the chance to exchange some messages with Brian Cooley, the CSU Assistant Coach who had the scout for Mississippi State. When I asked him about the things they focused on, he said, ”The biggest thing we focused on was defensive rebounding. We were great in the first half. Second half they went harder but all in all, we did a good job. Post defense was also big. We prevented a lot of post touches and gave good help from the perimeter when their bigs got touches.”

I asked him specifically about the rebounding philosophy and if it included sacrificing transition opportunites. And Brian replied, ”We stressed everybody getting involved in rebounding. Sometimes in those situations, our 3, 4, and 5 are doing the boxing out. Our guards rebound down to help out. But we didn’t want to sacrifice any transition offense because that is so important to us. We wanted to do both. MSU did a good job of limiting our offensive opportunities until things loosened up late.”

As for the offensive side, Cooley said, ”We obviously didn’t take care of the ball particularly well in the first half. Their pressure and physicality bothered us a little and we played too much on our heels. The guys adjusted to their size/length/athleticism as the game went on and we were much better in the second half.”

It Takes Two to Tango

So it was no accident that CSU struggled with turnovers and transition offense in the first half of the Mississippi State game. They are coached by Ben Howland, he of 521 career Division 1 wins and three Final Four appearances.

And Howland had made it very clear, after suffering an upset home loss to Minnesota on Monday that he was very disappointed in his Bulldogs’ on-ball defense and their transition defense. He knows he has an NCAA Tournament level team and really needed the CSU game after than Minny loss. His team was full prepared and it showed up numerous times as his squad ran out to healthy leads.

It was always going to be a battle. The Rams may have saved it for late but in the end, they solved the puzzle that Howland’s team presented them. The game had very much the feel of an opening round NCAA Tournament game and was exactly what the doctor ordered on this year’s schedule.

Swoll’s MVP vs Mississippi State

To me it was obvious, given the rebounding challenges the Rams faced. Dischon Thomas.

Isaiah Stevens’ ”Off Game”

So during the game and after, I saw some comments that mentioned it was Stevens’ worst game in a long time. I guess there’s some truth to that, but I prefer to focus on the result and how CSU got there against MSU.

Stevens would finish with 8 points and 10 assists against only 3 turnovers. We’re spoiled if that’s a ho-hum performance, especially against a Top 50 team. And especially given the defensive focus of Mississippi State that I described earlier.

But let’s walk through his contribution that was the exclamation point to CSU’s 17-2 run that won the game late. In fact, lets go to the box score play-by-play from the 5:10 mark of the second half to the 2:23 mark. A grand total of two minutes and 47 seconds:

05:10STEAL by STEVENS,ISAIAH
05:0757 (+1)Colorado State56 GOOD DUNK by RODDY,DAVID(fastbreak)(in the paint)
ASSIST by STEVENS,ISAIAH
05:07TIMEOUT 30SEC by TEAM
04:49MISS JUMPER by MOLINAR,IVERSON
REBOUND DEF by STEVENS,ISAIAH
04:4157 Colorado State58 (+1)GOOD DUNK by THOMAS,DISCHON(fastbreak)(in the paint)
ASSIST by STEVENS,ISAIAH
04:17GOOD JUMPER by MOORE,SHAKEEL(in the paint)59 (+1)Mississippi State58 
04:04FOUL by JEFFRIES,DJ
03:5759 Colorado State60 (+1)GOOD LAYUP by RODDY,DAVID(in the paint)
03:38MISS JUMPER by BROOKS,GARRISON
REBOUND DEF by THOMAS,DISCHON
03:2059 Colorado State63 (+4)GOOD 3PTR by STEVENS,ISAIAH
ASSIST by RODDY,DAVID
03:00MISS 3PTR by MOORE,SHAKEEL
REBOUND DEF by STEVENS,ISAIAH
02:28MISS JUMPER by JACOBS,CHANDLER
REBOUND OFF by JACOBS,CHANDLER
02:2359 Colorado State66 (+7)GOOD 3PTR by MOORE,KENDLE
ASSIST by STEVENS,ISAIAH

And there you have it. I bolded Stevens’ contributions. The crucial three-ball that gave CSU its first two-possession lead of the game. Three assists, Two rebounds. One steal. All in less than 3 minutes.

Closer!

Roddy Crosses the Career 1000 Point Threshold.

David Roddy’s 19 points pushed his career total to 1015, achieving a very nice milestone. Isaiah Stevens 8 points pushed his career total to 994 so I think its fair to expect that he’ll achive that milestone in the game next Saturday vs Tulsa.

Twitter Gaga Over an Out of Bounds Play

Top college basketball analyst Rob Dauster posted the following video after yesterday’s game and it drew raves from all around the nation from lots of other top analysts and fans.

A beyond brilliant play executed to perfection as Roddy initiated to Thistlewood who curls and passes to Stevens. An immediate bounce pass to Roddy for the lay-in. Easy hoop.

But the real genius of this play is that if Roddy had been defended, Kendle Moore had slipped to the wing for a completely uncontested three-ball. You know Stevens would have found him.

And Finally, Welcome to the Top 25!

All but a formality to come later today. Where they end up who knows, but its the first time since the 2014-15 team began the season 14-0.

One Comment leave one →
  1. mark zaremba permalink
    December 13, 2021 7:56 pm

    Been waiting for this one, Mr. Ivy. CCH is THE place to go for those of us who want an insightful perspective on this historically good CSU team. Well done.

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