Feb 142010
Authors: Matt L. Stephens

In the bizarre chance you were hoping my column this week would be some cutesy take on Valentine’s Day, you have two options:

One, go ahead and put down my column because you’ll simply be disappointed, or two, keep reading because you know it’s better than listening to your capstone professor.

The truth is, no one cares about anyone’s relationship other than his or her own. And if you had to make a big deal about Valentine’s Day to your partner, there’s a clear and present danger that your relationship is doomed.

I make a huge deal about how much I love my girlfriend day in and day out, and truth be told, almost to our one-year anniversary, I didn’t tell her happy Valentine’s Day on Sunday (and our relationship is stronger for that).

So enough with the sadly required, anecdotal bull butter, let’s get to a topic people actually care about: CSU Rams basketball.

The common thought among college sports fans who cheer for a rising underdog is that any conference powerhouse that comes into “our house” will fall flat on its face and leave in an upset.

While we do see the underdog sometimes come out on top in these situations, just like Niagara defeating Siena last week or anytime Gonzaga hits the road in West Coast Conference play, it’s important to understand that these aren’t everyday occasions.

CSU will be in one of these situations on Wednesday when they host No. 17 BYU, a team the Rams haven’t defeated since Dale Layer’s final season at Moby in 2007. The Cougars bring to the table one of the most underrated players in the country in junior guard Jimmer Fredette, who’s averaging nearly 21 points and five assists per game. His offensive production is good in the MWC.

Under the direction of head coach Tim Miles, the Rams have never been able to figure out Dave Rose’s BYU Cougars. In fact, in regular season games since 2007-08, BYU has won all five contests by an average of 27.1 points.


But what CSU will have on their side, when the Cougars come to Fort Collins this week, will be what seems to be the return of Moby Magic, a conscious Dorian Green, an improved Greg Smith-brand spark plug, a jump-shooting Andy Ogide and a version of Travis Franklin, who has decided he wants to make free throws.

The Rams have never had that in their previous six games against BYU under Miles.

Fan turn out for the CSU basketball games against CU-Boulder, Wyoming and UNLV have been incredible and have greatly influenced the outcome (two of which were victories). While Moby Arena is a relatively small venue, seeing fewer and fewer green seats is creating a more hostile atmosphere for opponents.

And isn’t it fun to get into someone’s head?

Green, a true freshman point guard, was not expected to play a big role for the Rams coming into this season, but as it turns out, he’s the team’s leading scorer at 12.8 points per game.

During the CSU-Air Force game last Tuesday, Green hit a three-pointer to cut the Falcon lead to one point with 6:30 remaining.

It was without a doubt the biggest play of the game and immediately following, Marius Payton from The Mtn. looked over at me and said, “That kid is unconscious.” And he’s right. Green just goes out and plays basketball.

Smith, another freshman, scored what was then a career-high of 13 points against BYU in Provo on Jan. 16. Since then, the Nebraska native has been averaging 9.9 points per game. Smith wants to be a star and knows he can and will be. Before long, he’ll finally complete a posterization of an opponent and know it’s all downhill from there.

Ogide cannot be stopped when he’s sinking eight to 12-foot jump shots. He’s done that lately.

Defenses decided to triple-team him in the post, so he just steps back for a jump shot. That’s all he has to do to keep the Rams competitive every game. There’s not much more that needs to be said.

Finally, T-Frank.

Franklin’s free-throw woes from the UNLV loss through the win at Utah were some of the ugliest displays of basketball fundamentals I had seen all season. Well, just short of Kansas guard Brady Morningstar’s missed-free-throw-turned-YouTube-hit at Texas last Monday.

But Franklin has seemed to have gotten his grove back, the mental block is over and, ironically, his shots from the charity stripe were the biggest positive difference maker in the Rams’ win at Air Force.

Still, while it’s good for players to have the expectation to win against BYU on Wednesday, fans should not set themselves up too high.

Go cheer for the Rams to get this elusive win, but if it doesn’t come, don’t chant “F*** the Mormons” like ignorant morons.

Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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