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State Pride My Ass: Rams Fall 83-71 to UNLV

February 1, 2023

A 6-0 start. A collapse to fall behind 20-10. A spurt to get back within one. A poor finish to close the half down 39-30. Then a capitulation allowing the visitors to go up 20+ before a late rally made the score not quite respectable. That’s all you need to know about this one.

It’s time to get things off my chest regarding the current state of the 2022-23 Colorado State Mens Basketball team.

First let me preface that it was fun to see senior guard Isaiah Stevens honored for setting the CSU career assist record complete with video from former record holder Ryan Yoder. If you’ve followed me on Twitter, listened to me on podcasts or local radio shows, you know where I stand on Stevens. I believe he’s Top 3 alltime at CSU, and in the conversation for best player ever alongside Bill Green and Pat Durham.

And there Stevens is plugging away night after night doing his best to lead the team to victory. He’s not perfect. But he’s damn good. 5th in the nation in Assists Per Game, 3rd in Assist to Turnover Ratio. He embodies the concept of Team Together, using his individual talents to make those around him better.

The rest of the team does not live in that world. Many of them play as if Team Together means helping a teammate up off the floor on a dead ball. THATS NOT IT!

Team Together is setting a hard screen for a teammate to open up a shot opportunity or create a driving lane. It’s helping out a teammate on the defensive end when needed, not watching a play unfold before your eyes and just standing there. It’s 5 guys playing as 1 on both ends of the floor. Not 5 guys playing as 5 guys. And let’s face it.

This team is fractured.

During the game last night, I turned to one of my fellow season ticket holders and said “ I think we have to face the fact right now that these guys are likeable but they’re not very good.”

And until they get the issues worked out between their ears and underneath their rib cages, we won’t know if they possess the physical abilities to be any good. (I happen to believe they have the goods physically but that might be just me).

Mental mistakes like grabbing a rebound and throwing a long looping pass forward against a defense that lives on live ball turnovers, creating a three-point play against you. Mental mistakes like a lazy box out on a free throw when you know the guy shooting is going to throw up a brick and allowing an easy offensive rebound. Mental mistakes by letting a left handed player drive freely to his left for an easy layup.

I don’t want to get into the issues under the rib cage too deeply other than to say that when you allow a poor rebounding team to dominate you on second chance points, you clearly don’t have the necessary fight to compete and ultimately win a game.

Why do I begin with “State Pride, My Ass” you might ask.

It stems from something one of my high school coaches once told me. He said “ It’s not the shoes that make the player, it’s the player that makes the shoes.” I had just gotten a pair of top of the line Adidas track spikes and my teammates were admiring them. He brought me down to earth with ultimately what was truly important.

And so when I saw a team play with such little passion for my adopted home state, one that I love more than you could ever know, I was reminded of what my high school coach had said.

This years team has played with little state pride, losing all 4 matchups to date with local Front Range schools and not really competing last night while wearing the jersey.

And now we have a game on Saturday Night that involves something near and dear to my heart. What used to be billed as “Bigger Than Basketball” and what is now called “Fight Like a Ram”, it is a UC Health sponsored game that honors Cancer Warriors.

Why is it near and dear to my heart?

it’s because a year ago I was one of the cancer warriors that was honored. I had been diagnosed with colon cancer in August 2021 and had surgery to remove 9” of my colon a month later. It wasn’t enough. Chemotherapy was recommend and I began a 12-week regimen in late October 2021 that ran through January 2022.

Chemotherapy really sucks. It makes you feel worse, not better. it’s nausea, numbness, oversensitivity to cold, pain, and much more. For those undergoing it, it is hard just to show up for the next infusion knowing how lousy it will make you feel. But you do it because of the belief that you will get better, that there will be better days.

in short, you fight your way through whatever pain you are feeling, in order to get that W over cancer.

I was lucky. My chemo regimen only last 12 weeks and involved an infusion of poison every three weeks. Many have it much more difficult than I did. Longer regimen periods, more frequent infusions.

Players will get a chance to meet these special fighters this week. A chance to get to know them in a short period of time.

But what I care about is how they choose to respond to this and bring it into their own lives and their performances on the basketball court. If you want to show these amazing cancer warriors what it means to fight like a Ram then FIGHT LIKE A RAM on Saturday night against Utah State. And fight like a Ram the rest of the season, helping to give them the courage to continue their fight against a much tougher and more insidious opponent than they will ever see on the court.

Take it upon themselves to play for 40 minutes. Take it upon themselves to have all five guys playing as one over all 94’. With the brains and hearts of champions.

It’s time.

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