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Rams Stumble Their Way to 80-74 Win Over New Mexico

January 20, 2022

Yes it was a win. And yes wins matter. But thats all it was as the Rams relied exclusively on their talent advantage over the visitors, rather than execution and effort, to record another important win.

And that’s a dangerous place to be, a genuine slippery slope, when your goals are to be at the top of the mountain.

The Rams’ first offensive possession was a harbinger of what was to come. A Dischon Thomas pass was obviously kicked but there was no whistle. The players on the floor chose to stop to argue for the call while the Lobos happily grabbed the ball and scored on a completely uncontested layup. Players are taught to play to the whistle. New Mexico did. The Rams didn’t.

The Rams fell behind the visitors 12-6, as they were failing miserably in their ball screen defensive coverages of super quick Lobo guard Jaelen House. So poor that Coach Niko Medved called a timeout and lit into his team, most heavily Dischon Thomas, for their poor work on the defensive end.

What followed was an 11-0 run by the Rams, launching them to a 17-12 lead. A game ready to be turned on its ear but it never happened. Continued struggles defensively were exploited by the Lobos who would go on to shoot 8-16 beyond the arc for the half; most of those were wide open looks as House was penetrating the interior of the Rams’ defense with ease and kicking the ball out to shooters if he wasn’t scoring himself.

Offensively, the Rams had a tremendous advantage in the paint with their speed and power, either scoring at the rim of getting to the free throw line, but chose to settle for way too many perimeter jumpers.

They went into the room leading 37-32.

Rams came out of the room and immediately built a 10-point lead by scoring inside and at the free throw line and once again the game was there for the taking. It wasn’t to be as they curiously decided that perimeter shooting was the way to go. An Isaiah Stevens turnover was followed by three consecutive empty possessions that featured perimeter misses by David Roddy, Kendle Moore, and John Tonje. Tonje’s miss was immensely troublesome as he launched from 30+ feet only 14 seconds into the possession. Next thing you know, the Lobos were on an 11-point run and found themselves in the lead at 47-46.

Another Rams timeout and this time the message was clearly to attack the rim on offense. The Rams would take only three three-pointers over the final 14 minutes as Roddy, Stevens, and Chandler Jacobs were scoring at the rim. They build the lead to a comfortable 10 points with just over two minutes remaining and managed to hold on.

Roddy would lead the way for the Rams with 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. Stevens had 16, Thomas 12, Jacobs 12 along with 10 rebounds, and Tonje 10. For the Lobos, House had 18, Colorado Springs native Javonte Johnson 18, Kj Jenkins 17, and Jamal Mashburn Jr has 13.

But in the end, it was a poor performance by the Rams on both ends of the floor. There is no need to recap all of the errors they made. Everyone had them. Lets just call it a consummate team effort. I hope they’ll see this as a warning shot over the bow. Because in the end, its not OK to just settle for what is comfortable. What is OK is to challenge yourself, to dare to be great. To make the choice to be great regardless of the opponent. To match effort and execution with that God-given talent.

A Few Post-Game Words With Coach Medved

I had a chance to catch him as he came out for his post-game radio interview. I told him his team’s ball screen defense was terrible tonight. He agreed. And he said they did some things in their coverages of House that really didnt work and put a lot of pressure on bigs like Dischon Thomas.

He also added that they made some changes to the coverage of House in the second half that slowed him down and allowed the team to get important stops. Niko then added that he was most disappointed with the Rams’ attention to detail the entire game. There were some very strong words spoken that aren’t necessary to repeat.

Bottom line – he was not happy. Especially because he thought the team had a couple of fantastic practices leading up to the game.

Chandler Jacobs’ First Double-Double

Fast becoming a crowd favorite because of his contributions on both ends of the floor, Jacobs made a lot of winning plays for the Rams tonight. A first half dunk follow on a missed three-ball, a pair of athletic layups, 6-6 from the free throw line. And BIG rebounds; the pythons were on display!

Here’s what you probably don’t know. In MWC games, he leads the conference in free throw shooting at 100% (16-16). He is second in the conference in Steal Percentage. And he is third in the conference in Defensive Rebounding Percentage, trailing only UNLV big Royce Hamm and Wyoming big Graham Ike.

He has positioned himself as a leading candidate for 6th man of the Year in the MWC. His likely competition is teammate John Tonje who is having a great season as well.

We had Chandler on a Ramnation.com podcast on Tuesday. I’d like to think there was some pretty good karma that led to his performance on Wednesday. If you havent taken a listen, please do.

The Students Set an Attendance Record!

3844!

160% of student capacity!

we heard it was coming but I have to tell you, it felt great as we were driving to the game and approaching Moby via Plum Street. 35 minutes before the game and there were large groups of students walking to the game. The sidewalks were full!

And they didn’t disappoint during the game as they were engaged for the entire 40 minutes.

The overall attendance was 6516, a pretty solid number given the icy road conditions.

Im going to guess that the next three home games (Nevada, UNLV, and San Diego State will approach sell-out numbers.

Jay Norvell in The House

So nice to see and hear. What a hire!

Yes he spoke at halftime. But even better was his engagement with the student section pre-game. The guy gets it.

I ran into Joe Parker post-game and finally had a chance to share my thoughts on the Norvell hire. I told him that he could not have done any better and that Norvell was a home run. I also told him that it sure was a heck of a lot better than hiring an assistant from somewhere. I think there was a bit of a smile under Joe’s mask with that one.

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