I should have known. All the signs were there: a naive belief in the power of a rivalry despite a glaringly shorthanded women’s team, a misguided fan’s overconfidence that can only come with a 14-4 record and early talk of March for the men, and an ever-dreaded trip through the little stretch of hell known as southern Wyoming on an ice cold January night.
Roll it all into two nights and what do you have? Dejection, despair, and every Ram fan’s worst nightmare: an 0-2 kick-off to 2007’s Border Wars. I should have known.
Starting it all off were the men, as they traveled to Wyoming holding a 14-4 record and looking primed for a run at an at-large bid to the big dance. In order to take a positive step in that direction all we had to do was get by the Cowboys, who happened to be on a three-game losing streak and were .400 in conference games.
This one had everything a Border War in Cowboy country should. There were mullets (male and female), teeth (just not too many in the same place) and even a sign that said “We bleed brown and gold” (which, if you ask me, are colors better suited to bodily fluids other than blood).
As for the game, we played with enough energy to get it done, especially in the second half. And the players were clearly fired up, as evidenced by the retaliatory push/punch/Melo manslap that Lewis threw.
It just seemed like we took WAY too many forced shots and botched too many drives by foul hunting. And of course it is clich/, but the refs were brutal.
Add it all up and you get a 75-70 loss in one of the toughest places in the Mountain West to play a game. So, I did the only honorable thing a Ram fan can do in that situation: put on my best Layer face (some combination of “What the hell just happened?” and “What do I do now?”) and booked it back to Fort Collins.
Besides, it wasn’t over..we had a shot to get some of that pride back the next night.
Not to be the glass-half-empty guy, but the women’s game started with less hope than the Rockies in September. Down six, yes SIX, players due to injury and suspension we actually had to bring in two volleyball players to keep the coaches on the bench company.
However, it was a Border War everybody knows anything can happen.
The women were scrappy, tenacious, full of heart and deadly accurate from the floor. They did everything they needed to do to get the win.
But, as fate would have it, an inexplicable no-call strip at the end of regulation sent the game into overtime where the Rams, in foul trouble and desperately short handed, just ran out of gas.
No matter the outcome, it was clearly one of the most outstanding efforts by any CSU team that I have seen in my decidedly short tenure at this school. Hats off to the women’s team.go get them in February.
In the blink of an eye we had dropped two in a row to our most hated team in the conference. But things will be all right, even for the most diehard of Ram fans. I think my friend Harm summed it up best when he said this:
“You know, no matter what they say we’ve got the ace of spades every time.”
“What’s that?” I said.
“Well, after the game, they’re going to be in Laramie.”
I couldn’t agree more.