“I’m proud to be a CSU Ram.”
You won’t find a more clichéd phrase in Fort Collins. But on Saturday night, before 8,745 screaming fans inside Moby Arena, it had never been more appropriate.
If you were lucky enough to be in attendance during the Rams’ 94-85 loss to the 9th-ranked BYU Cougars, you probably felt it too. Even in defeat, I have never been more impressed with the CSU faithful than I was this weekend.
I showed up hours before tip-off, and was inspired to see thousands of students braving the wind and cold to make sure they were admitted into the game. I walked up and down the line speaking with a multitude of Rams fans. From students who had supported the basketball program their whole lives, to those who had never been inside Moby Arena.
The atmosphere inside the gym was nothing short of electric. Wes Eikmeier rattled home the first points of the game and the arena nearly crumbled to the ground. When Dorian Green converted a breakaway dunk in the second half, I swear I saw an elderly man crowd surfing in the upper section, and Dwight Smith’s block of Jimmer Fredette had the student section falling all over each other like a Pretty Lights concert.
But even more important than the individual moments was the resolve shown by both the team and crowd. Trailing by 15 points at halftime to the No. 9 team in the country, it would have been easy to surrender. And yet, there were no signs of resignation in the team. The crowd sensed that, and followed suit by providing energy the rest of the way.
Throughout the game, there seemed to be an unspoken belief among CSU students, players, coaches and fans. A belief that the unthinkable could happen, that they could be witness to something extraordinary.
That feeling is something we, the CSU community, must cultivate. After all, we are witnessing the extraordinary. This program is only three seasons removed from a 0-16 record in conference, and already we are giving fits to a top 10 team in the country.
Though the environment on Saturday was special, it’s not worth much if we don’t continue to support the team in massive numbers. It is essential to remember that this team has the ability to play in the NCAA tournament this season. The Mountain West is widely considered a three-to-four bid conference, and your Rams still sit all by themselves in third place, with an impressive RPI to boot.
If the student section is equally raucous this Wednesday against Air Force, the Falcons will be in a lot of trouble. In order to have one of the great student sections in the country, you have to show up with the same intensity –– whether it’s a top 10 team or Montana Tech. You won’t see the Cameron Crazies taking a day off, and we sure as well won’t letdown either.
If you have any topics you’d like me to touch on this semester, or just have a sports-related question, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I promise to answer all the mail I receive. And once a month I’ll devote my columns to answering questions from readers.