Chauncey Billups attended last night’s rivalry between Colorado and Colorado State. Being a former Colorado Buffaloes star, he was hoping Josh Scott would lead his alma mater to a win against the Rams.
He left the game disappointed. Not only did the Buffs take a 62-60 loss to their in-state rival, but Scott came up lame in a big game. CU’s star only had two measly points, and it came via two free throws.
Billups had to admire the way J.J. Avila played. The CSU senior forward was a guy that was willing to do the things that would give his team the victory and keep his team undefeated at 9-0. He backed it up by scoring 11 of 19 points in the second half to give CSU the victory.
The game was series of runs and back and forth scoring in what was a great contest by both sides of the rivalry. It came down to a guy who was going to make the big shots.
That’s where Avila took charge in the middle of the second half. After Colorado State struggled to make shots and put the game away, he took control of this game on both sides of the basketball.
Avila’s layup gave the Rams a 40-38 lead. From there, the Rams took the lead for good thanks to him making shots and making defensive plays in the last five minutes.
The CSU forward was able to create a turnover and then keeping the ball out of bounds. From there, he ran to the other end and made a layup to extend the Rams’ lead to 48-44. He executed the three-point play by making a free throw to make it 49-44.
He also was able to grab a rebound and put himself in a position to make a layup in making this a 53-49 game for the Rams.
Avila’s steal set the stage for Daniel Bejarano to make a layup in giving the Rams a six-point lead at 55-49.
Avila’s layup gave the Rams a 57-49 lead.
From there, the Rams did not look back. Yes, the Buffs made it a game, but it was a foregone conclusion the Rams had this game. There was no way the Rams were blowing it. Not with Avila doing his thing on defense.
Avila’s play is called leadership by example at its finest.
In sports, there is a perception that leadership is about screaming to the media or yelling at the players. It’s not the correct definition. Leadership is about taking charge and showing guys how it’s done by producing in a moment. That’s what Avila did last night.
Avila felt Colorado State should be good enough to beat Colorado. He did not want his senior year to be remembered for losing to Colorado. He put it upon himself to make sure it did not happen.
That’s why Avila took charge by being active on defense and doing both at one play by playing defense and scoring.
That’s more than what Scott did for Colorado. He looked disengaged the minute Tial Daniels worn him down in the first half. Scott just was standing around rather than fighting back.
Avila’s play was contagious for CSU. It got his teammates to believe they can get it done by following his lead. It got them to believe they can win on the road.
Who knows if Colorado State wins the game without him?
For Avila, it’s rewarding to finish his career with a win against an in-state rival. The fact he played a role make it that much better.
It’s not a big deal for Colorado to beat Colorado State. It’s a different story from CSU’s perspective. They are known as a little brother. They are a program Colorado looks down at. Being a Ram means beating Colorado. It’s how fans, alums and boosters remember the Rams players.
Avila knows this as much as anyone. That’s why he took it upon himself to take charge.
He certainly played like this game meant a lot to him by his work on defense and offense.
This was the only time CSU was playing CU this year. Avila knew he had to make this one count.
To play well and win at Boulder makes it that much rewarding for the CSU senior.
Contact or Follow Leslie Monteiro: @LightRodWriter