Higher Ceiling For CSU Hoops

(Ron Chenoy- USA Today Sports)

(Ron Chenoy- USA Today Sports)

Entering Wednesday night’s game against big brother Colorado, Colorado State was undefeated in basketball play. They are playing at a high level. This was a chance to stick it to a school that looks down at the state school.

Beating Colorado is one of CSU’s goals during the basketball season along with getting off to a great start heading to conference play.

The Rams accomplished both goals so far this season. They improved to 9-0 after taking a 62-60 victory over Colorado in what was an exciting game all night long at the Coors Events Center Wednesday night in Boulder. This was a game that featured CSU’s senior forward J.J. Avila (19 points) outplaying Colorado’s star Josh Scott (2 points on making two free throws).

Despite CSU winning its ninth win in 62 games in Boulder and winning there for the first time since 2006, there was a different attitude about them when it came to beating Colorado. It wasn’t a big deal. It was something to be expected. They know they are better than their big brother. They couldn’t care less if the Buffs realize that or not.

Why should they? CSU has higher goals like going as far as they can in the NCAA tournament. They feel they are good enough to go far. Maybe go to the Final Four perhaps. It’s been since 1969 since they went far in the tournament as they lost to Drake in 1969.

Sky is the limit for the Rams. They are well-coached. CSU Rams coach Larry Eustachy runs a great offense. The Rams are also good defensively. This is a program that has had stability for years, so they finally have a program in place that can go far in March.

In a tight in-state rivalry game, Colorado State thought they could win last night against Colorado since they have enough depth on offense. It’s not just a one guy team. It could be a different hero every night. It’s why they have a shot to win games when they come out to play.

Colorado State can beat a team in many ways whether it’s shooting from downtown or scoring in the paint. They also know how to put themselves in a position to be in the free throw line as they did last night by being in the line 26 times.

They also have a guy who is not afraid to take a big shot in Avila. With the game being tight most of the game, the senior forward decided to bear the responsibility of taking the big shots. He certainly did by scoring 11 of 19 points in the second half. He showed Scott how it was done.

The offense will always be Colorado State’s strength as long as Eustachy is coaching them. He has a way of getting transfers from other school and gets results out of these guys. That style has worked out well for him and the program.

Coaching plays a role come March Madness, and Eustachy gives Colorado State an edge there. He knows how to run up plays for his guys in taking last shots or making plays down the stretch.

The Rams coach has had success in previous stops when his teams played in the NCAA tournament. He took Iowa State to the Elite Eight in 2000. He had Colorado State win a tournament game in 2013.

Colorado State also plays defense. They forced Colorado to 14 turnovers, and their defense set up Colorado to run their offense and score points. They do a good job of pressing in games. It helps they have size, too, and it was evident last night when Tiel Daniels used his size to fluster Scott.

CSU’s defense could be the difference maker this time around when they play in March this year. They got guys who will get at it on defense.

From watching CSU play, they can do better. That’s why they should get everyone excited. This team will be much better when they peak later this season.

The upside of this program should make Eustachy like his team’s chances in March.

For CSU, it’s about getting better. That would mean not to take bad shots as they prone to do at times. It did not come back to haunt them, but it’s something they have to work on.

Colorado can look at CSU as a non-existent rival. What they should understand is CSU has a better chance to go further in March than CU.

CSU has the pieces in place to do something special in March.

Contact or Follow Leslie Monteiro: @LightRodWriter

Leslie Monteiro

Leslie Monteiro

Leslie is a contributor for Lightning Rod Sports. He covered high school sports in Bergen County out in North Jersey, and has written op-ed columns on sports such as Bleacher Report and NY Sports Digest.

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