Two weeks into the conference season and at the start of the spring semester the CSU Rams find themselves in a recently unfamiliar spot: contention.
It was an up and down winter break for the Rams to say the least, but one in which CSU remained a threat. The Rams break started off slowly, losing two straight road games, both in California. CSU’s cold streak began against UCLA, falling to the Bruins 75-63 in Los Angeles on Dec. 22.
CSU’s struggles continued six days later as the Rams were blown out by the Fresno State Bulldogs 73-50 in Fresno.
Rams guard Adam Nigon said the loss to the Bulldogs was especially frustrating for the team.
“We definitely should have won some games on break that we didn’t win,” the junior said. “The Fresno game was tough because we are a better team than they are.”
CSU got back on track New Year’s Eve by cruising past the Yale Bulldogs 93-71 within the friendly confines of Moby Arena. The Rams winning streak continued into conference play with convincing victories on the road against Wyoming and at home against Air Force.
Freshman guard Dorian Green partially gave credited the Rams loss to Fresno State as motivation for the three game win streak and said it showed the Rams they have to be on their game every night.
“It reminded us we have to be ready to play each game,” Green, a Kansas native, said. “We were disappointed with that effort so we just wanted to come out and respond after that loss.”
Unfortunately for the green and gold, the win streak stopped at three games while facing conference powerhouse Brigham Young. The Cougars handed the Rams a sobering 91-47 loss in Provo on Saturday and captured the conference lead in the process.
Currently CSU sits at 11-6 and ranks second in the Mountain West behind BYU. The Rams are a perfect 8-0 at Moby Arena, but have been an easy target away from home dropping six of seven true road games.
Head coach Tim Miles explained that the Rams still have a lot to discover about what type of team they are, but said he has a good feel for it.
“I think we are a solid basketball team. We really aren’t much more than that, but we are certainly not less,” the third year CSU coach said. “I think we are the type of team that gives ourselves a chance to win most nights out. We’re decent defensively and we have our moments offensively. I think our guys really know what they are after and that really helps too.”
CSU is about to set out on what could be the defining point of their season, starting this week. CSU is scheduled to return back to the court Wednesday night as they host the UNLV Rebels (14-4, 2-2 MWC) followed by a trip down to New Mexico (16-3, 2-2) on Saturday.
Nigon said that it’s nice to be towards the top of the Mountain West, but added it will be more difficult the next few weeks to keep that position.
“It’s definitely good playing from up front. That’s what coach always says all the time even in a basketball game. In front of the conference is great,” he said. “We have played the bottom couple teams and those are games we should win. Now we have a big stretch here where we have to come out and play some of our best ball of the season.”
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.