The CSU men’s basketball team keeps asserting that they are getting better and feeling more comfortable, but the scoreboard hasn’t been agreeing with them.
The margin of defeat in the Rams past four losses has increased in each game. The Rams fell by two-points to San Francisco, six to Nevada, nine to Boise State, before Wednesday’s 19-point loss to rival Colorado.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Rams, as CSU hosts the undefeated Stanford Cardinal in Moby Arena at 5 p.m. on Sunday (TV: CBS College Sports).
CSU welcomed 10 newcomers to its team this season, and the team felt it has gelled on offense, but the defense hasn’t come together.
“Like coach said, it’s a marriage. We have to give effort, execution, and we’re doing it on one end and not the other,” said center Dan Vandervieren after the CU game. “It takes defensive stops in order to win ballgames, and until we do that, we’re just going to struggle.”
CSU head coach Tim Miles said no one in particular is to blame, but it is an issue with the whole team.
“We just don’t consistently do our jobs. I chart every blown assignment or open shot, and we know who is at fault. I am a Catholic, so I believe in guilt, and it is everyone,” joked Miles. “We are doing things right two-out-of-three times, but that is not enough.”
The Rams continue to suffer from the injury bug, as CSU hasn’t been at full strength since game two this year. After missing multiple games, guards Harvey Perry and Willis Gardner were both in the lineup against Colorado, but CSU forward Andy Ogide decided to sit out due to a toe sprain that limited his effectiveness even when he played.
Ogide will be questionable for Sunday, and it is unfortunate for the Rams that his injuries have coincided with Vandervieren raising his play.
Vandervieren, a 6-10 center, tied a career high with 15 points against Boise and then set a new high with 16 against Colorado, impressive for a player who initially didn’t think he would play this season with ankle and shoulder injuries.
“Dan brings his lunch pail every day and works hard,” said Miles. “He has been back at it now for a month, so you are starting to see him get in better shape and you can see the results on the court.”
The Rams will need to play better defense if they want any chance against Stanford, as the Cardinal feature four players who average double-figures in scoring. They are led by seniors Anthony Good and Lawrence Hill, who average 19.8 and 17.5 points, respectively, on the season. The Cardinal are an especially good 3-point shooting team, shooting 41.6 percent from behind the arc on the season.
“I think that this is the best opponent that we play,” said Miles. “They play Duke style basketball, with coach Johnny Dawkins (a former assistant coach under Mike Krzyzewski), and they are a great team, a marquee name.”
Men’s basketball beat writer Matthew Pucak can be reached at email@example.com.