Skip to content

Reacting to the Stunning News of Injury to Isaiah Stevens

October 13, 2022

Quite simply, I felt absolutely awful when news came out regarding the foot injury to Isaiah Stevens via a tweet from DNVR’s Justin Michaels.

I was getting ready to watch the season opener of the defending Stanley Cup Champ Colorado Avalanche on TV when I saw the news.

My heart sank.

Because if you have followed my work for the last several years you know how much pleasure I get watching Isaiah Stevens lead the Rams on the basketball court. If you read my article last week, you know that.

Isaiah has been the centerpiece in CSU’s rise inside the Mountain West Conference and nationally over the past three years. His numbers speak for themselves. 15 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds. His leadership speaks in a record of 65-26 over his three years. The most MWC winning starts in the first three years of any player in the history of the MWC – that total is 39.

And in this day and age of easy transfers and NIL, an old school loyalty to the program that has given him the opportunity to display his talents and develop both on and off the court. Let’s be perfectly clear about this. Isaiah Stevens could have walked away from CSU this season to the tune of about 500k in NIL money if that was his priority. But he didn’t.

Sometimes life isn’t fair. We can bemoan injuries all we want in our own selfish ways because of our love for a team. But ultimately the burden of the pain falls onto the player himself and there is nothing we can do but let him know that we are thinking of him and pulling for him in his recovery. A little prayer here or there can help too.

The hope is for a recovery that will allow Isaiah to return this season in time for conference play. The truth is that foot injuries can be tricky and there are no guarantees of any return this season.

I subscribe to the belief that all things happen for a reason.

Maybe it’s a way of preparing the CSU program and us as fans for basketball life post Isaiah. Who knows?

But this I know.

Freshman Tavi Jackson and sophomore Baylor Hebb will be asked to man the point guard position by committee. They will be given opportunities to lead the Rams through the out of conference schedule and maybe more.

Neither is Isaiah Stevens. And it will not be fair to them to compare what they can do to what Isaiah has brought to the floor. Both offer skills that allowed them to star at the prep level and both are Division 1 athletes.

Jackson is a bit of an athletic freak who averaged nearly a triple-double as a prep in Las Vegas. It’s only a matter of time before these skills translate at the next level. This season was meant to be a way of easing him into the rigors of D-1 hoops as Stevens’ understudy. Now he’ll be drinking from a fire hose.

Hebb is a heady gym rat. Originally recruited by Loyola – Illinois, he transferred to CSU after his freshman season. He played minimal minutes last season and now will be asked to step in and play an integral role whether it be as starter or substitute.

The greater challenge is now for the staff to figure out a way to develop the proper chemistry in Stevens’ absence. As the quintessential point guard, Stevens’ knowledge of the offense is such that his game is built around using his skills to dictate the pace and flow of the game. He is easy for the other players to play off of and they know that if they are in the right spots, Stevens will get them the ball at the proper time for an easy look.

Can Stevens’ scoring skills be replaced?

15 points per game is a lot. Jackson and Hebb will score some but probably not as efficiently at Isaiah whose career numbers include 40% three-point shooting, 50% 2-point shooting, and 87% free throw shooting. The team will certainly suffer some on the offensive end but there are plenty of others available to step forward.

And then there’s the end of game prowess that Stevens has displayed over his first three years. Winning buckets, assists on winning buckets. There is no other player you want the ball in the hands of in the entire Mountain West Conference. I’m not sure CSU has had a better finisher in the last 20 years.

I even owe my Monday Morning Cup of Coffee column to Isaiah. It was born from the famous movie line from “Glengarry Glen Ross” that coffee is for closers. Isaiah is that closer.

There are no doubt challenges ahead for this years CSU Mens Basketball squad with the loss of Stevens. But the truth is that you can’t replace Isaiah Stevens. The challenge becomes one for how the team will re-invent themselves into a successful squad. That same challenge would have come next season after Isaiah had moved on. The timetable has been accelerated and there isn’t a heck of a lot of time before the 2022-23 season gets underway.

Yes there will be hiccups as the team searches for an identity without Isaiah. But the potential benefits are enormous.

Imagine how strong this team could become if and when Isaiah returns to the floor. Depth developed through the fire and intensity of real games, not practice and scrimmages. Not just Jackson and Hebb but the entire cast of players who will be asked to score that one extra basket, garner that one extra rebound, get that one defensive stop that will help the team win.

And on a grander scale, I end with this quote:

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rich Feller permalink
    October 13, 2022 6:47 pm

    Such a loss for a wonderful young man…and certainly affects our potential. Can only send him the best in his recovery and beyond. He will always be a success. Will he have the option to return next year? So many good memories of his past leadership, skills and soul!

    • Fabian Family permalink
      October 17, 2022 3:29 am

      I think Isaiah can play a 5th year regardless of what happens this year. All players were given a do-over for the 20-21 COVID year. Although I had not been expecting him to come back for a 5th year.

  2. Fabian Family permalink
    October 17, 2022 3:23 am

    Isaiah will be severely missed while he is out. One other option I could see the coaches doing is not playing a true point and using Strong as a point guard. He appears have played point his freshman year at Navy and occasionally his first year at Illinois state. That might allow the Rams to get their 5 most experienced players on the floor at the same time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: