Tag Archives: Colorado State Basketball

Colorado State Was Snubbed Because It’s Not A Big Enough Brand

Welcome to the 101st edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where I am NOT TAKING THINGS WELL. Let’s get into it… (I suppose I should warn you about a little uncharacteristically coarse language in this one.)

The selection committee snubbed CSU out of an at-large bid, leaving fans, and Larry Eustachy, perplexed. (Rich Abrahamson, Coloradoan)

Almost exactly two years ago, I published my first edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, titled “Did Colorado State Deserve A Better Seed And A Better Matchup?”. A couple days prior to that posting, the NCAA Tournament selection committee screwed Colorado State badly with an 8-seed that forced them to play the number one overall seed in the second round in what amounted to a true road game. It was pretty clear CSU deserved much better. Two years later, the committee completely, thoroughly outdid itself.

Over the course of this college basketball season the Colorado State Rams did more than enough to secure an NCAA Tournament bid. They didn’t get one on Selection Sunday because the selection committee is able to simply alter the criteria required for an at-large bid if the outcome favors a popular brand name at the expense of a team that’s lesser known nationally.

Make no mistake, that’s all this was. It’s extremely simple, really. The committee favored brand names. Sure, it’s about the conference affiliation. Sure, it’s about how well a team’s fan base will travel. Sure, it’s about the tradition of a program. But all of that contributes to a brand name. And this year, the selection committee based their “bubble” selections entirely– ENTIRELY– on brand names.

And that is fucking bullshit.

The NCAA Tournament is the center of the sports world when it comes Cinderella stories (THE SLIPPER STILL FITS!) and David taking down Goliath. The success of schools few casual basketball fans are familiar with is what provides much of the March Madness hype every year. But those romantic themes and story lines lose a lot of luster when the “little guy” can’t even get into the damn tournament. How is the scrawny nerd supposed to hook up with hot chick if the bouncers don’t let him into the bar?

The thing is, CSU basketball isn’t really that little of a guy. The Mountain West is an upper-level mid-major. This isn’t Murray State from the Ohio Valley pleading in vain for an at-large bid. CSU was in line to earn their third at-large bid in four years. They have a well-respected head coach who has been around forever. They are firmly on the college basketball map.

But Colorado State is not a BRAND. Indiana is a brand. Ole Miss is a brand. Georgia is a brand. Texas is a brand. UCLA– ohhh fucking UCLA— is a brand.

The NCAA makes a seed list that ranks every team in the tournament from 1-68. The bottom of the at-large field looks like this:

  • 37. Indiana
  • 38. Davidson
  • 39. Ohio State
  • 40. Georgia
  • 41. Texas (!)
  • 42. UCLA (!)
  • 43. Ole Miss
  • 44. BYU
  • 45. Boise State
  • 46. Dayton
  • Dayton was the last at-large team selected. The committee has made it clear the first team out was Temple, followed, presumably, by Colorado State. So had the list been extended before adding automatic qualifiers, it would have looked like this:
  • 47. Temple
  • 48. Colorado State

This is utterly absurd on so many levels. Dayton should have been comfortably in the field and far from the last team in. How in the hell is Indiana ahead of Ohio State?! You could make the argument that Georgia, a team with ZERO top-50 wins and two sub-100 losses, should have been on the outside looking in, yet there they are with SIX teams behind them in the seed list. How does Boise State get sent to a play-in game against Dayton, IN DAYTON?! Texas doesn’t deserve a spot at all, and they have FIVE teams behind them. And then, of course, you have UCLA who wasn’t even on ANYBODY’S radar, and they’re chilling at 42 without a care in the world.

The biggest retort to all of this discussion will be Whatever, man. CSU should have played a tougher nonconference schedule. Well, let’s take a look at this argument.

CSU’s nonconference strength of schedule is ranked 83rd in the country. Texas? 85. Georgia? 92. Indiana? 109. Ole Miss? 95.

But these teams are all in good conferences, so they don’t have to load up in the nonconference schedule right? Well, kinda. All of these schools’ overall strength of schedule was launched significantly ahead of CSU once everybody played a full slate of conference games. So they all definitely deserve credit for playing in a tougher conference, especially when the Mountain West was down a little bit this year. But how much credit does each team really deserve for their conference play? Texas finished 8-10 in the Big 12. Georgia and Ole Miss both finished 11-7 in the weak-ass SEC. Indiana finished 9-9 in the Big 10.

Indeed, the argument for the tournament’s inclusion of the Texas brand is they played a very tough schedule. They played 15 games vs. top-50 opponents. FIFTEEN! That’s a lot! But Texas went just 3-12 vs. the top-50. My math tells me that’s not a very good track record against good teams. Why are we so devoted to rewarding teams for losing to superior opponents? This is such a flawed logic. Put those 12 top-50 games that Texas lost on CSU’s schedule and I guarantee you– GUARANTEE!– that CSU can go at least 0-12 like the Longhorns did.

Then there’s UCLA. Again, this team brand wasn’t on anybody’s radar as a potential tournament team brand. They weren’t even on the bubble. Then they got in, somehow.

When comparing UCLA’s body of work with CSU’s, it’s clear that the two resumes are not even close. CSU has seven more wins, CSU’s RPI is 19 spots higher, UCLA has two more sub-100 losses. And as this tweet points out, Colorado State lost to one non-tournament team all year. UCLA lost to FIVE different teams that didn’t make the field. And again, UCLA didn’t just make the field, they made the field COMFORTABLY!

Take this moronic tweet from ESPN’s Jay Williams, one of the few national voices dumb enough to support Colorado State’s snub:

Okay, Jay. But CSU also went 10-4 vs. the top-150, while UCLA went 11-13. One of those records is better than the other, you dipshit.

Oh, and CSU’s 16 wins vs. sub-150 teams is really bad, right? Well nine of UCLA’s whopping 20 wins came against sub-150 teams.

By the time the conference tournaments come and go, every team on or near the bubble has plenty of warts and misgivings attached to their resume. The traditional line of thinking says that if you don’t get in, you only have yourself to blame. You can argue about seeding, but if you don’t even make the field, that’s on you. This is especially true in the 68-team era of today. With Colorado State, bracketology-expert-guy Patrick Stevens disagrees:

So yeah, we’re talking about an all-time snub here.

Of course, the committee has to come up with something to justify keeping the CSU brand (or lack thereof) out of the tournament. It sounds like it found the one weak spot associated with this year’s CSU team and keyed in on that. The Rams’ weak spot is… the Kenpom rankings. Kenpom is an advanced ranking system using, among other things, adjusted efficiency statistics. CSU’s Kenpom ranking this year didn’t line up with the rest of their resume. They ranked 68th.

Here’s the chairman of the committee, Scott Barnes, as quoted in the Coloradoan: “When you think about Colorado State, their RPI was fairly strong but the other metrics that we use weren’t nearly as high in terms of ranking.” He’s obviously referring to Kenpom, or Sagarin (CSU ranks 57th) or BPI (also 57th).

But this leaves Colorado State fans (and coaches and players) screaming something along the lines of: SINCE WHEN HAS THAT SHIT MATTERED?!

For years, coaches at mid-major programs have been told to get their RPI up. We’ve all been told the RPI is a crucial tool for the selection committee, even if we’ve known the formula is antiquated and not a solid way of ranking the best teams in the country. So what does the committee do when a mid-major like CSU combines clever scheduling and a lot of wins to produce an excellent RPI that essentially guarantees tournament entry?

It decides that, in this case, the RPI is no longer important.

Yeah, now– NOW– it’s time to move on from the RPI and use more complex ranking systems. That pretty fucking coincidental timing, if  you ask me.

Colorado State was projected by every single bracket-projector-person to be in the field for a reason. Jerry Palm and Joe Lunardi and Patrick Stevens aren’t picking their favorite teams or the teams they think are deserving. They are projecting what the committee will do. The committee has a set of guidelines to use. They have historical tendencies from previous tournaments. And every single person that studies and projects brackets for a living deduced that said tendencies and guidelines meant CSU was in. What all the bracket experts and analysts failed to consider was that the committee can ignore their guidelines and tendencies whenever they want if it serves a bigger and better brand name.

And for the love of all that is holy, WOULD YOU ASSCLOWNS JUST ADMIT THAT CONFERENCE AFFILIATION DOES MATTER?  You were never going to take four teams from the Mountain West; it would be great if you could just acknowledge that.

I’m also tired of hearing people play the “what-if” game. CSU let one slip at Boise in January. CSU shouldn’t have lost at home to Wyoming. CSU should have played JJ Avila against San Diego State. If a school like CSU wants in, they need to win their conference tournament.

This is all bullshit. CSU didn’t need to do any of those things. They did enough. They were in.

That’s the bottom line for me:   CSU did enough to get into the tournament. They did more than enough. And the committee found a way to keep them out. Whether that was a sudden, newfound emphasis with very peculiar timing on advanced metrics like Kenpom or a focus on conference RPI and keeping the number of Mountian West teams to a minimum, they simply found a way to keep them out. And they did it because they wanted bigger, better brand names in the tournament.

If you believe for one damn second that if the roles were reversed and UCLA or Texas was considered by all the bracketology experts and analysts to be comfortably in the field the way CSU was, and if CSU was considered a longshot bubble team like UCLA or Texas were… If you believe for one damn second that the committee would have balls to shock everyone and put CSU ahead of those brands, you are absolutely insane.

And it’s pretty depressing to think about those details. When you consider that CSU isn’t in a fair fight and there is nothing that they or their fans can do about it except start cussing in blogs, it makes you question the the whole operation.

What’s the point? Why should I invest so much into such a rigged system?

The NCAA Tournament, The Big Dance, and March Madness are my three favorite sporting events of the year, every year. The only thing that comes close, for me, is the MLB Postseason. But even the best Octobers can’t hold a candle to the ceaseless fun, intensity, and overall craziness the first four days of March Madness brings.

But on Sunday we learned, in no uncertain terms, that March Madness is more fun, intense, and crazy if you have a brand name attached to that resume. Then you might actually get to participate.

Off to the weekly departments (which are admittedly a little rushed this week)…

NBA Tank Watch 2015!

The Nuggets continue to absolutely screw everything up in the worst way by winning games. They’ve fallen to the 8th spot in the Tankandings.

  1. New York, .197
  2. Minnesota, .212
  3. Philadelphia, ..224
  4. L.A. Lakers, .262
  5. Orlando, ..309
  6. Sacramento, ..338
  7. Detroit, .348
  8. Denver, .382

Idiots.

Douche(s) of the week:

Umm… See above.

Studs of the week:

Nice moment at a Nuggets game here. These do not get old.

Vine(s) of the week:

My favorite of the year! Glorious.

The only thing better is the super slow motion version here.

This one is also pretty glorius. Just a bit short, my man.

Photo of the week:

This isn’t exactly an amazing piece of sports photography, but it’s still my favorite photo of the week. The perils of having a live mascot.

A couple other things worth sharing:

The best game of the weekend might have been Albany’s win over Stony Brook. Here’s the game-winner and ensuing court storm.

More conference tournament fun! Oregon’s game-winner over Utah.

And this play here took some ONIONS!

(Hey look! Texas lost to a good team!)

And here’s something to distract the CSU basketball fans. Another episode of “The Grind.” Still really well done.

And finally, Deadspin brought this video to my attention. After the way my week went, it’s very necessary viewing.

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week.

***

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @TuesWithMitch.

March Is Coming; What You Need To Know About Colorado State Basketball

Welcome to the 98th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where the dog days of winter are slowly dragging on. Does winter have dog days? Is that a thing? Whatever. Let’s get into it…

J.J. Avila has been Colorado State’s most consistent player all year long. (Erin Hull, Coloradoan)

It’s late February, which means not much is going on in the sports world. And while we may be stuck in one of the slower times on the sports calendar, it’s also the best time to jump in on the national college basketball scene. While there is nothing better than March Madness, college basketball at the end of February is pretty damn good too. We are in the middle of crunch time. The nation’s top teams are fighting for NCAA Tournament seeding and conference championships. Bubble teams are fighting just to be included in the Big Dance.

In Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region, only one team has a shot to receive an at-large bid to the tourney. And that team is the Colorado State Rams, who should be going dancing for the third time in four years. So let’s break down what you need to know about CSU with Selection Sunday just 19 days away.

The Rams began their season with the best start in program history. After finishing their non conference slate undefeated, they won their first Mountain West game to make them 14-0. They’re currently 23-5 (10-5 in the Mountain West) with three games remaining on the regular season schedule. The last few games are all winnable. After hosting San Jose State (terrible) tomorrow night, the Rams travel to Nevada (bad) and Utah State (decent). The Utah State game will be tough (it’s Stew Morrill’s last game before retirement), but a 26-5 record is within reach. That would be the most wins in program history and make CSU all but a lock for the tournament. Indeed, Larry Eustachy is getting the most out of his talent… again.

Colorado State’s roster is full of transfers, led by two seniors in Daniel Bejerano and J.J. Avila. Bejerano is a 6’5″ guard who transferred from Arizona after his freshman year four years ago, making him the last connection the Rams have to the Tim Miles era. He’s about as athletic a shooting guard as you’ll see in the Mountain West and one of the better rebounding guards in recent memory. Bejerano is probably the most talented player on the Rams, but is too often an inconsistent shooter. Eustachy is cool with that and gives Bejerano an eternal green light from behind the arc. (Bejerano has the most three point attempts on the team and is shooting a decent 37.6 percent from deep.)

Daniel Bejerano’s sometimes streaky play is key as the Rams head to the postseason. Erin Hull, Coloradoan

The way I see it, Bejerano will be the key to success for the Rams in the Mountain West tournament and the Big Dance. When he is making his threes and controlling the offense, CSU becomes very difficult to beat and can look dominant. When he’s not– as has often been the case in conference road games– the Rams’ offense can completely stall and be painful to watch.

Avila is a burly 6’8″ 250 pound forward who looks a little bit like Mr. Incredible. Avila transferred from the Naval Academy after his sophomore year. Though Bejerano is more athletically gifted, Avila has been the Rams’ best player this year. When Avila gets the ball in the low block, it’s fun as hell to watch him go to work. He utilizes crafty footwork, angles, pump fakes, spins and a three-inch vertical leap to make weird-ass shots on a regular basis. Avila does it all. His averages on the year (rounded): 17 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, while shooting 55 percent from the floor. His consistent play all season is the biggest reason the Rams are 23-5.

The Rams lead the Mountain West in scoring at  73 points per game, which is a bunch in the current college basketball environment. Looking at KenPom’s* advanced statistics, the Rams have one of the nation’s better offenses (46th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency) paired with a below average defense (147th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency). They play at an above average pace (51st in Adjusted Tempo), which makes for more pleasant viewing than a lot of good team’s in today’s college basketball world.

*I think the top-heavy Mountain West and general awfulness of the lower-tier teams has jerked with kenpom’s numbers a bit this season. His formula has the Rams ranked 68th overall, quite a bit lower than several other metrics.

Most bracket predictions have CSU somewhere around a 10-seed right now. But of course, those predictions are fluent and change on a regular basis. So how will the rest of this season play out for Colorado State? Probably better than this worst case scenario, and worse than this best case scenario.

Worst Case (Realistic) Scenario: The Rams beat San Jose State comfortably tomorrow night because San Jose State is one of the worst teams I’ve ever seen, but stumble and lose in Reno to a bad Nevada team. They follow that up with a loss at Utah State and finish the year 24-7 and in fifth place in the Mountain West. They win one game in the Mountain West tournament but lose in the second round. Selection Sunday comes and goes without the Rams’ name being called. The excitement and promise from earlier in the year turns out to be completely for naught. The Rams are a fairly high seed in the N.I.T., but nobody cares.

Best Case (Realistic) Scenario:  The Rams win their final three regular season games to finish 26-5. With some help from Boise State and Wyoming they finish second in the Mountain West standings. Behind another impressive three-point shooting performance, they beat San Diego State in the Mountain West tournament championship, moving them to 29-5. On Selection Sunday they learn the committee has rewarded them with a 6-seed. In the Big Dance they beat an 11-seed (think Purdue or UCLA) and then upset a 3-seed (think North Carolina or Utah in Las Vegas Bowl revenge) to reach the Sweet 16 and move them to 31-5. The magic comes to an end during the tournament’s second weekend when the Rams finally go down to a more athletic and more talented 2-seed.

I don’t know what the future holds for the Rams, but I do know the college basketball bandwagon has plenty of room and it’s officially time for you to jump on. Around these parts, the team in Fort Collins is reason enough to hop on board.

Off to the weekly departments…

Stud of the week:

NBC

“Parks and Recreation”, one of the great comedies of all time, comes to an end tonight after seven seasons. “Parks and Rec” never really caught on for mainstream audiences like “The Office” did, but is probably a better show in its totality. Some people think the reason “Parks and Rec” never blew up is the first season wasn’t as good as the next six. I think the show was simply too different (smart) to appeal to broad (dumb) audiences like “Two and Half Men” or “The Big Bang Theory”, but not raunchy or obscure enough to find a niche like “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.”

I’ve never seen another show that could be so sweet, genuine, warm, fuzzy, cute, and sincere at the same time as being uproariously funny, bizarre, quick, smart, absurd, and hilarious. Here’s my guy Alan Sepinwall:

In the end, it is one of the best comedies TV has ever seen, and one that stands out from so much of the great shows of this new Golden Age of Television because its default emotion was joy when so many of this era’s great shows are defined by darkness, and its default philosophy was one of optimism at a time when even the best comedies today tend towards ironic detachment.

He goes on…

So let me put it this way: there is a stretch of 42 episodes spanning seasons 2, 3 and 4 without a bad one among them. Every sitcom, even the best, churns out a misfire now and then; for two-odd years, every “Parks” episode was at a minimum very good, and at a maximum a classic of the form, mixing slapstick, social satire and simple character-based comedy.

The show’s cast was unbelievably deep for a broadcast network comedy. Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, and Aubrey Plaza are all much bigger stars than they were six years ago (with the exception of Lowe, probably). And all Offerman did was create one of the greatest TV characters of all-time in Ron Swanson:

Anyway I’ll stop talking about TV now, but I look forward to the finale tonight. I’ve never been so confident in a show to stick the landing.

(If you haven’t watched, the first six seasons are on Netflix.)

Douche(s) of the week:

Boyhood didn’t win Best Picture. What the hell, people? Smdh.

Vine(s) of the week:

There were some crazy dunks in the basketball world this week. We’ll start this section by continuing the CSU basketball theme. Here is former Ram Jon Octeus, who was with CSU for the last couple years before trying to transfer to UCLA, not getting in, and landing at Purdue.

I never saw that from J.O. in a Rams’ uniform. On a side note, CSU is without a reliable true point guard. They could have really used Octeus’ long, active defense this year.

The other college dunk of the week came from Jarell Martin of LSU, who went between the legs IN A GAME! IN COLLEGE!

I’ve seen some crazy-ass dunks from JR Smith from his time in Denver, but this one might have dropped my jaw more than any other.

This doesn’t have its own section, but here’s a video of a 92-year-old man driving around a Piggly Wiggly parking lot in Wisconsin. It’s pretty funny if you know that no one was hurt and you can avoid getting into a debate about the elderly’s right to drive and society’s role in accommodating the elderly and confronting your own fear of one day growing old.

The driver was not cited.

Here’s a disgustingly terrifying video of a land octopus, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t a real thing until a few days ago.

And finally, check out this ending to a middle school basketball game. (White team is up by one.)

A jump ball as time expires results in the end of the game. Just when you thought you’ve seen it  all…

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week (for the 99th Tuesday in a row).

***

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @TuesWithMitch.

Your Weekly Roundup From the Sports World and Internet

Welcome to the 93rd edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where I have a really hot take regarding the Super Bowl matchup:  I DON’T LIKE EITHER OF THESE TEAMS!!! THIS WILL BE THE WORST SUPER BOWL EVER!! Let’s get into it…

The new head coach of the Denver Broncos, seen here mean-mugging the world.. (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun)

I’ll start with some quick thoughts on the Broncos’ hiring of Gary Kubiak as their head coach.

As we all know, there has never been a coaching hire that led the people in charge to do anything but shout from the rooftops about how wonderful and life-changing the news is. Every coaching hire is met with some degree of optimism and most are met with lots and lots and lots of optimism. (Recruiting classes in college are the same way.)

So with that in mind, I’m taking a very original approach to the Kubiak hire and saying I LIKE IT!

John Elway has proved to have a Not-Effing-Around mindset when it comes to winning a Super Bowl and Kubiak was undoubtedly his first choice to replace John Fox, who coached in the playoffs like he was thinking about the real estate market in Chicago more than the Colts’ defense.

Kubiak is a well-respected NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE lifer that generally gets the most out of his players, who all speak highly of him. He and Elway are BFFs who share similar mindsets when it comes to football and, presumably, lots of non-football stuff too. Kubiak will be more innovative and creative and hopefully less conservative than his predecessor.

The biggest initial question is how Kubiak’s under center, run first, bootleg, play-action offense will mesh with Manning’s style of offense, which is basically the opposite of all that. Indeed, this will be interesting to watch next fall, but it’s not something I’m overly concerned with. First, we don’t even know if Manning will be the Broncos’ quarterback next year (I’m still betting he will). Second, these guys should be able to adapt and find some sort of offense that suits them both. These are two of the best offensive minds in football. Just because they have traditionally different philosophies shouldn’t mean they can’t work together. And most importantly, you can’t make a coaching decision based on the needs of one player, particularly when that player is coming off an injury and is about to turn 39.

The Kubiak hire appears to set us up for Broncos A.M. (After Manning), which is an era that is coming at us quicker than most anticipated a few months ago.

So this move ought to be one that sets the Broncos up for success in the long-term. (Aren’t they all?) The short-term– meaning next season– is far more dependant on the health and skill set of the quarterback than the guy wearing the headset on the sideline.

Overall though, the Broncos introduced their new coach today. It’s a good hire. And even if it’s not, we might as well be optimistic. That’s what coaching hires are for. YAYYYY WE’RE ALL IN SUCH GOOD HANDS WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE?! (I actually do feel that way.)

And hey that NFC Championship game was pretty interesting.

The sequence of events in the fourth quarter was just absurdly unlikely. It’s worth it to put aside your hate of the Seahawks for a minute just to appreciate how absolutely bonkers that game was.

An all-time collapse from the Packers. And credit to the Seahawks who didn’t quit when a lot of teams would have.

Here’s the beautiful fake field goal that got things started for the Seahawks. (Although, not really. They were still dead in the water after this.)

And here’s the onside kick that played a pretty major role in the Packers’ faceplant. Look at Jordy Nelson just hanging out waiting to catch that ball.

Amazing game.

This brings us to our…

Douches of the week:

Seahawks fans! (Again.)

I had a mini-rant about the Seahawks’ fans prior to their hosting the Broncos in the season’s third week. This week we get to laugh at all the 12th Bags who left the NFC Championship early, only try to run back into the stadium, only to be denied re-entry, only to try watch the game on the concourse TVs from outside the stadium.

Now, wait a minute… I thought Seattle had the best fans in football. The best home field advantage in football. The only fans in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE that can have a real impact on the game.

These folks left the NFC Championship game, probably after Russell Wilson’s fourth interception with about five minutes to go and the Seahawks down by 12.

That’s pretty much unacceptable. If it was any other game I wouldn’t have a huge problem with it. I hate traffic more than most and am more realistic about my team’s chances of victory than most. The conference championship, however, is literally the biggest game a football team can host in their own stadium. You leave that game with five minutes left when you’re down twelve points? DOUCHES!

And yes, it’s worth mentioning that the vast majority of fans stayed until the end. (Duh. No credit for that.) And yes, it’s worth mentioning that every team in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE would have a few fans leave early in the given scenario. But this is simply more proof that Seahawks fans are just like every other fan base in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. Why can’t we all just admit that?

There’s also this guy celebrating on the field after the game by pulling his pants down and drinking out of a pink plastic water bottle. I have no explanation for this.

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 18:  A Seattle Seahawks fan celebrates after the Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers  in the 2015 NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field on January 18, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (Tom Pennington-Getty Images)

Studs of the week:

We’re taking a sharp right turn away from the football world because we need to talk about what Colorado State did to Nevada on the basketball court Wednesday night. Nevada isn’t good, but isn’t an awful team either. Prior to playing CSU they beat a decent UNLV team on the road. The Rams beat the Wolfpack 98-42. NINETY-EIGHT TO FORTY-TWO. Obviously a beatdown like that will produce some crazy team statistics, but I just want to focus on some of the hilarious scores from this game.

The Rams started the game by jumping out to a 25-3 lead. They led 45-10 with three minutes left in the first half and 55-12 at half time. The trend continued in the second half. With 11 minutes left the Rams led 75-22. With 8 minutes left…

The Rams’ big lead of the game came just before the final, when they led by 58 points, 98-40.

Then on Saturday, CSU beat San Jose State by 29 points. San Jose State is absolutely awful by every metric, so this wasn’t much of an accomplishment. Still, raise your hand if you can remember the last time the Rams won two consecutive games by a total of 85 points.

The Rams are now 17-2 (!) and have an RPI of 36. If they continue to play well throughout their conference schedule, they should be the only team in Colorado headed to the NCAA tournament.

Big one at Moby on Saturday against San Diego State. 8 p.m. White out. See y’all there.

Vine of the week:

Looks like we’re keeping it in the Mountain West. Larry Nance Jr. keeps doing cool things for Wyoming.

Photo of the Week:

I spent about ten seconds taking this picture on my phone while I was walking into work on Friday morning, so I’m not patting myself on the back too much, but just look at that sunrise!

A couple (or single) link(s) worth sharing:

Just one story you need to get into this week. Kurt Busch testified under oath that his ex-girlfriend is a trained assassin. Even though it likely contains ridiculous amounts of lying under oath, this is the most amazing story, like, ever.

And finally, I saw “American Sniper” and “Boyhood” this weekend. They’re both excellent. Bradley Cooper will probably win Best Actor at the Oscars. But Boyhood will definitely win Best Picture. You need to carve out three hours and watch this movie. It’s unlike any movie that’s ever been made.

(I clearly didn’t have any funny sports videos for this spot this week.)

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week.

***

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @TuesWithMitch.

CSU Seniors Are A Special Group

V. Haro. Fort Collins Coloradoan

Colorado State’s classy group of five seniors will be missed by Ram fans. V. Haro. Fort Collins Coloradoan

One of the things I’ll remember most about the group of Colorado State seniors whose careers all ended Saturday was they way the carried themselves on the court.

When I watched Greg Smith and Wes Eikmeier and Colton Iverson and Dorian Green and Pierce Hornung, I got the feeling they were all there to win a basketball game. Nothing more. They were passionate and they would get jacked up in big moments, but it was always about the team. Never about themselves. Never talking crap. Never showing up an opponent. Never playing to the crowd.

Personal celebrations are rampant in college basketball and I’m not here to say any of that is wrong or foolish. It’s a fun part of the game. But it was really refreshing to watch a group of kids that just didn’t care about any of that. I’m sure much of the credit for this mentality should go to Tim Miles and Larry Eustachy, but it’s rare for college kids to conduct themselves with so much class at all times.

How many times can you remember one of these seniors doing the single three goggle, double three goggles, down-low-three-thing, six-shooter-pistol-thing, jersey popping, or chest pounding? None. I suppose I could be wrong but I can’t remember one of these guys doing something like that one time over the course of four (or three for Eikmeier, one for Iverson) years. That’s incredible to think about.

Instead we saw a lot of this stuff:

CSU celebrates as a team.AP Photo/Coloradoan, Dawn Madura

CSU parties on the court– as a team– after a win.
AP Photo/Coloradoan, Dawn Madura

Always about the team.

The ending was unceremonious and it didn’t feel right. Last week’s post pointed out that they earned a better fate than what they were stuck with.

Without getting on my soapbox again, I’ll simply say it was a shame to watch the kids that turned a program around go out in that manner. They deserved better. They could have played Florida Gulf Coast in the second round. Or Gonzaga. Or anybody else. You have to feel that any draw other than Louisville in Kentucky and things wouldn’t have been so upsetting and disappointing.

I’m not saying they were bound to win a national championship, but it’s no stretch to see them as a Sweet 16 team if the committee was a little more kind reasonable. They deserved better. I’ll get off my soap box now.

An interesting thought regarding this team:  Does it make sense to retire any numbers? I think there’s one guy you can make this argument for and that’s #22. Dorian Green has played in more CSU basketball games than anyone. Ever. He took over a team that had gone 4-12 in conference play the year before he arrived. They improved each of his four years. He led the program to back-to-back tournament appearances for the first time in 13 years. This year’s team won the most games in program history and is generally considered the best Colorado State team ever. Green scored 26 points in the program’s first NCAA tournament win in 24 years.

Those are some serious accomplishments.

The thing is, he was never really a superstar. Nobody on this team was. They were five very good players who played very well together. You can’t retire all five numbers. Or can you? No you can’t. Or do you just retire Smith’s 44 and Hornung’s 4 and Green’s 22 because they played all four years? No, that’s too excessive.

Colorado State has only retired five numbers in the history of their athletic department and they’re generally reserved for All-Americans. Only one of those honored is a men’s basketball player, Bill Green (no relation, but a very coincidental last name), in the early 1960s.

With that in mind it seems unlikely Dorian Green’s number will hang in the rafters at Moby, but his career certainly warrants a discussion on the matter. What do you all think?

I guess at some point we have to think about next year. For a team losing all five of it’s starters, the cupboard isn’t as bare as it might initially seem. The core will be sixth-year senior Jesse Carr, 4th-year junior Dwight Smith, 4th-year junior and current Mountain West sixth-man of the year Daniel Bajerano, junior Jon Octeus and senior Gerson Santo.

Three pretty solid recruits are coming in, but at this point it’s tough to predict how much playing time any of them will receive.

A drop-off is expected. At this point (and it is really early for all this talk) I see CSU as a middle of the pack Mountain West team that lands on the wrong side of the bubble.

Anyway, this year’s group deserves to be celebrated and will not be soon forgotten. They turned the program around. They laid the foundation. They were all close friends. They hang out together. They are mature off the court. They were mature on the court. And they were good.

We may never see a group like them again.

OTHER STUFF FROM THE TOURNAMENT’S OPENING WEEKEND

This category is pretty much dominated by Florida Gulf Coast University. This dunk from Friday is the moment of the tourney.

What we have here is a kid on a 15-seed lobbing it about 3 feet above the rim in a crucial moment. Then some white dude who probably didn’t really get recruited by anyone throws it down like JaVale McGee. Just an incredible moment.

That happened on Friday. By Saturday morning, they had they’re own music video popping around social media. Usually this stuff is pretty poor, but “Dunk City” has some serious production value:

They won again to make history on Sunday, which produced my favorite gif since Marshall Henderson trolling the Auburn kids. Equipment manager going hard:

FGCU Equipment Manager

What a thug. I love the mini-chicken dance halfway through. It’s also important to notice how goofy his buddy #15 is. Not quite as thug.

My other favorite moment from the opening weekend came when a friend sent me this video. The dude coming down the stairs in the background has had a long day of basketball, presumably enjoying an adult beverage or two along the way. Apparently watching someone fall down turns me into a second-grader giggling uncontrollably.

OTHER STUFF FROM AROUND THE WEB

Thursday night was all about college basketball, but if you missed the end of the Nuggets game against the 76ers, check out this wild finish that extended their winning streak to 14.

The Nuggets (sans Ty Lawson) lost to the Hornets last night. No really, that happened. Still, they are the best story in the NBA right now (assuming you don’t like or don’t care about or refuse to acknowledge the Miami Heat, who should be expected to win every game and not praised for it). Denver has a great chance of securing the number 3 seed in the Western Conference. Rob Mahoney of si.com had an interesting piece on Monday about the Nuggets true chances of playoff success. Personally, I think there’s a whole lot to hate about the NBA, but the deep and different dudes in Denver are, in a way, the opposite of all those disturbing and disgusting trends. So I watch. And I root. And I don’t even feel like a hypocrite.

And yes, I absolutely think this team is good enough to get past San Antonio and Oklahoma City to play Miami in the Finals, assuming David Stern is cool with it, which is unlikely. They travel to San Antonio tomorrow in what should be an interesting test.

The controversial ending to the Nuggets-Bulls game last week got a Bulls analyst fired. What a wild story.

This is a great story on a dad successfully grooming his son to become a professional athlete. Really good journalism.

This MMA’er has an unfortunate name. Or the announcer has an unfortunate pronunciation. Either way, this should make you laugh:

This has 6 million views in like 6 days. It’s not as good as this classic. Or even this one. But what a fun little genre we’ve developed here.

And finally, Opening Day is less than a week away. It might mean less in Colorado this year, but damn, I love baseball. It’s hard to not get excited for winter fading into spring and spring fading into summer. Nothing symbolizes that better than a bright green baseball diamond on a sunny day. I wrote this a year ago.

Happy Tuesday everybody.

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @MitchDHahn

Did Colorado State Deserve a Better Seed and a Better Matchup?

Welcome to the initial posting of Tuesdays With Mitch. This will be a little different than the old blog. New name, new format and a new commitment with a post each Tuesday. Enough about that, we have a lot to get to. Let’s jump in.

Colorado State fans were pretty darn upset on Selection Sunday for a variety of reasons. Here’s why:

The Colorado State Rams have an understandably subdued reaction upon seeing themselves as an 8-seed. Aaron Ontiveroz, Denver Post

The Colorado State Rams have an understandably subdued reaction upon seeing themselves announced as an 8-seed. Aaron Ontiveroz, Denver Post

Let’s start at the beginning. Once the selection committee has determined who will be in the field, they rank each of the teams from 1-68. That list is here. We’ll leave it at that for now.

The Rams came in at number 30 on the committee’s list, giving them an 8-seed. Here’s a link to the bracket, which you’ll probably want to reference. That #30 means that the committee felt CSU was the second best of the four 8-seeds.

Should they have been ranked higher? Let’s take a look. Here’s the list of the teams that make up seeds 7-9:

Seeds 7-9

cbssports.com

I’ll quickly breakdown each of the 5 teams ranked ahead of CSU. Keep in mind the things the committee looks at most closely are good wins, bad losses and RPI. Feel free to skim over some of the specifics if you’re not particularly interested in the details. I’ll start with CSU’s numbers for reference:

Colorado State — RPI: 18. Versus RPI top 100 11-7. Sub-100 losses: 1.

Creighton  RPI: 25. Versus RPI top 100: 10-5. Sub-100 losses: 2.

They Jays have a couple top 50 neutral-court wins, something the Rams do not have. The RPI is pretty close. Their worst loss is to Drake (RPI 144). The Rams worst loss is to UIC (169). Overall, having Creighton ranked ahead of CSU is reasonable.

San Diego State — RPI: 32. Versus RPI top 100: 8-10. Sub-100 losses: 0.

This one is going to take up a bit more space, as it has CSU fans the most upset, mainly because the Aztecs went 9-7 in the Mountain West, where the Rams went 11-5. Indeed, this is the most egregious/puzzling/enraging of the seeding scenarios.

A quote from Andy Glockner, who does a bracket projection and just about everything else college basketball for si.com. From his Monday column:

“The good thing about the Mountain West is it played a double round-robin schedule, so it’s pretty easy to see who was better in league play. Colorado State finished 11-5, a game ahead of UNLV and two games ahead of San Diego State, yet the Rams ended up 30th on the seed curve, somehow four spots behind the Aztecs and a crazy 12 spots behind UNLV. I know nonconference play matters, too, but what did UNLV and San Diego State do that was so great to overcome the league performance by such a significant magnitude? That made no sense.”

Well put, Andy. When asked for some explanation by Fort Collins Coloradoan beat writer Matt Stephens, committee chair Mike Bobinski mentioned the nonconference play of the two teams. From that report:

“Our conversations at the end of the day about those two teams were that San Diego State had a nice neutral-court win over UCLA, beat Indiana State, which is a pretty good team and did just enough things for us to put them slightly ahead of Colorado State,” Bobinski said. “Colorado State’s non-conference wins didn’t really feature anything over teams in the tournament, where as San Diego State at least had that.”

In other words, “Ummm I really have no idea how that happened. Sometimes we just screw up and there’s no reasonable explanation for that at all.” I have so many issues with Bobinski’s stupid explanation I don’t know where to start. He apparently forgot that CSU did, in fact, have a nonconference win over Montana, a 13-seed in this year’s tourney. He gives credence to the Aztecs’ neutral court win over Indiana State (RPI 72). Apparently CSU’s nonconference road win over Denver (RPI 65) doesn’t count as much as that one. So a neutral court win over a decent-but-mostly-mediocre UCLA team (RPI 26) gets SDSU ranked four spots ahead of CSU, despite 3 fewer top 100 wins, a 14-spot differential in the teams’ own RPI rankings, and a 2-game difference in the conference standings with a perfectly balanced schedule? Just lunacy.

Notre Dame — RPI: 35. Versus RPI top 100: 9-9. Sub-100 losses: 0.

The Irish have two fewer top 100 wins, but they have two top 13 wins. CSU’s best is 22. ND’s worst loss is 94. Their RPI, however, is almost twice as high as the Rams’, so I’d call this one a coin flip, or a slight nudge in CSU’s favor. Crazy to think a brand name like Notre Dame would win a close call over a brand name like Colorado State.

Illinois — RPI: 40. Versus RPI top 100: 7-10. Sub-100 losses: 2.

Apparently the committee can just brush aside the supposedly important RPI factor when it feels like it. The Illini have a bit of a different profile. Good wins– 3 in top 10– clearly carried them to a 7-seed. There’s four fewer top 100 wins and one more bad loss. Oh, and that enormous RPI discrepancy. I’d call this one pretty much a coin flip again. The profile depends on what kind of criteria one puts the most stock into.

North Carolina — RPI: 17. Versus RPI top 100: 9-9. Sub-100 losses: 1.

These profiles are incredibly similar. Both teams’ best wins are home to UNLV. Both played 10 games vs. top 50 teams (CSU went 3-7; UNC went 2-8). Both played 8 games vs. 51-100 teams (CSU went 8-0; UNC went 7-1). The RPI is a virtual tie (.6185 to .6182). And both teams have one sub-100 loss. I would guess the committee gave the nod to UNC because they’re playing better in recent games. That is, of course, assuming that brand names and conference affiliations and traditions don’t come into play.

Pierce Hornung and the Rams received a tough draw in every regard in this year's NCAA Tournament. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Pierce Hornung and the Rams received a tough draw in every regard in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

So of the five teams ranked immediately ahead of Colorado State, my scorecard reads one correct, one outrageously ridiculous and horrible, and three 50/50 calls, all three of which went against the Rams to tradition-rich programs with huge fan bases.

If I’m coming off sounding like a whiney fan, I apologize, but facts are facts. Another national writer, Jason Lisk, who does great work on The Big Lead gave me a little ammo Monday as well.

Discussing teams that were seeded lower than their RPI would have indicated he said, “Colorado State is probably the only one with a complaint if we view it from a ‘RPI, adjusted slightly for who you beat scenario’. They dropped below (UNLV) and were seeded four spots lower than (San Diego State).”

Hopefully I’ve made it clear that the boys from Fort Collins simply deserved a better seed than the one they received.

You still with me? Good, because I’m not done.

Now let’s look at the match up. Because this has me equally befuddled.

The Rams are heading across the country to play in Lexington. Should they get past a very good Missouri team, they face Louisville, the tournament’s number one overall seed. In theory, this should be designated for the fourth (or worst) 8-seed. Remember, the Rams are the second 8-seed. Since that was a tough draw, hopefully the committee made up for it by giving CSU a favorable location, right? Nope.

The other 8-9 locations are Dayton, Salt Lake City and Kansas City. Lexington and Dayton are about an 18 hour drive from Fort Collins (according to Google Maps). SLC is 7; KC is 9.

This is where things get complicated, and I’m no Joe Lunardi. But looking at the bracket, it would appear to make much more sense to simply swap out Colorado State and the team immediately behind them in the seed list, Pittsburgh. This would send the Panthers to play Missouri in Lexington and CSU to Salt Lake to play Wichita State. These games obviously make more sense because of location, but it also makes sense based on the seed list.

For some reason Colorado State plays the first 9-seed in Missouri (33 on the list) in the round of 64 even though they’re the second 8-seed. If you’re wondering, Columbia, Missouri is about a seven hour drive to Lexington, or 11 hours shorter than from Fort Collins. Oh yeah, if they get past that game they have the tourney’s number one overall seed waiting for them in a home game.

None of this makes any sense.

Unless I’m missing something, and I don’t see any conference or rematch conflicts, going to Salt Lake to play Wichita State with Gonzaga awaiting the winner makes infinitely more sense than what CSU is stuck with. And, based on the (incorrect) seed list, the Rams have earned as much.

So your Colorado State Rams got a tough draw based on the seeding, the location, the opponent, and the potential second round opponent. That’s all.

It’s really a shame, because these seniors have worked so hard for the past four (or five) years to get to this moment, and this year they’ve earned much better than this scenario. Hopefully all this puts a chip on the Rams’ shoulder, and I’m one guy thinking it would not be particularly wise to count this team out now.

Off the court, these dudes just can’t win. Here’s to hoping things are different on the court.

OTHER STUFF FROM AROUND THE WEB

Here’s JaVale McGee doing something ridiculous on a basketball court:

This could be a weekly installment. And no, I don’t know what to call that play either. And yes, the Nuggets are pretty darn good. So are the Heat though, so what’s the point?

What are your thoughts on Dick Vitale? The Wall Street Journal had an interesting profile of the polarizing broadcaster last week. It’s recommended reading. Personally, I love Dickie V. His passion for college basketball is unrivaled and I think his goofy mannerisms and dumb catch phrases have become as much a part of the sport as reviewing clock issues in the last minute of games. I literally laugh out loud every time he says, “How do you miss that? I ONLY GOT ONE EYE AND I COULD SEE IT!” Dick is a surprisingly good follow on twitter, but only if you– and I’m serious about this– read each tweet in your best Dickie V voice. And really, he’s just a great dude who absolutely loves people. That’s a quality characteristic. His passionate work in raising money for the Jimmy V foundation is also very important. What do you think? Are you hitting the mute button or laughing along with me?

March Madness kinda-sorta starts tonight, so why not?

Gus is the best. It’s a travesty he no longer calls the tournament.

This one doesn’t need much explanation: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Xo2MQtqD3zk

Throw it down big man! (Found that on Jimmy Traina’s twitter. @JimmyTraina)

Apparently there’s like 20 different versions of these commercials. After much deliberation I’ve decided they’re pretty funny.

Able. Bodied. Athleticism. They may or may not be attempting to appeal to rednecks with these.

I really enjoyed the latest 30 for 30, “Survive and Advance” about Jim Valvano and the unlikely tournament run of the 1983 North Carolina State team. It was a well done look at a truly incredible man and a truly incredible season. I’d probably rank it as one of the best three or four films in the documentary series. You feel something special when you watch a bunch of teammates sitting around a table reminiscing about such historic developments 30 years later. Search for it in your DVR and set aside a couple hours, you’ll thank me later. If you don’t tear-up you’re more of a man than me.

Here’s a fascinating non-sports feature from the New York Times Magazine. This dude’s a world renowned physicist, but he makes Manti Te’o look like a genius.

This is what Marshall Henderson looked like after winning the SEC Tournament Championship:

Marshall-Henderson1

[via @denzelnkemdiche]

If you know anything about Marshall Henderson, this picture isn’t much of a surprise.

And finally, only one bracket please. I could write a whole post about this, but if you fill out more than one bracket you’re doing it wrong. If you called that sweet 13 over 4 upset in “your other bracket” I do not want to hear about it. It doesn’t count. When you fill out a bracket, you should be making a confident attempt at perfection. There’s only one perfect bracket.

Comment below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Follow me on Twitter @MitchDHahn

Happy Tuesday everybody.

Tim Miles Leaves the Rams Behind

Every once in a while as a CSU Rams fan you have to ask yourself, “Why do I even bother?” Today was one of those days. On my lunch break I saw reports of Tim Miles reportedly taking the head coaching job at Nebraska. Nothing was official, but things sure seemed to be heading in a very specific direction.

Seven hours (and seven beers) later, the Denver Post reported that the deal was final. Tim Miles has resigned as the head basketball coach at Colorado State University. Some die-hard fans will say they knew it was coming and it was only a matter of time. Some die-hard fans will say this move is bush league and Miles should be ashamed of himself. Indeed, a plethora of emotions will come to a head for fans of the CSU program.

"Sorry Dorian. Sorry Wes. Somebody somewhere else wants to give me more money. It's been real though." -Imaginary (yet possible) quote from Tim Miles.

Here’s where I come out:

Miles has probably always seen Colorado State as a stepping stone…  And that’s okay. The CSU basketball program will have a hard time shaking the reputation of a middle-of-the-road job that, with success, can springboard a career into a “real job” in real a conference.

The thing that stings is…  CSU was primed for a huge, huge next year. Essentially the entire team that took the Rams to their first at-large tournament bid since 1989 is coming back. Will Bell and Kaipo Sabas are the only seniors that are moving on. They are nice players that played a large role in certain games, but the true core of this team is (was?) ready to factor in the national landscape of college basketball next season. I’ve been saying for at least a couple of years that next season was the one for Rams fans to look forward to.

That season may never come.

So, as a fan, that is what upsets me:  Tim Miles owes it to this team to come back and coach one more damn year. Pierce Hornung, Wes Eikmeier, Jesse Carr, Dorian Green, Greg Smith, Dwight Smith and even Colton Iverson must feel betrayed tonight. How many tournament teams have the chance to bring back five (FIVE!) seniors familiar with significant minutes as well as a  junior coming off the bench and a senior transfer (who happens to be 6-10)?

Put yourself in the shoes of Iverson, who left a Big 10 school in Minnesota to play his last year for Tim Miles. Now he becomes eligible for one final year of basketball, only to play for some dude he’s never met or heard of (depending on who takes over).

What the hell is so important about Nebraska? Nebraska? Freaking basketball at NEBRASKA?

Tim Miles has successfully reached out and grabbed more money as the head coach of Nebraska. Nebraska? (AP Photo)

One would have to have some strangely compelling incentives to leave Fort Collins for Lincoln.

Which brings us to the money. Money. Money. Money. Money.

What else is there in life, right?

According to the Post, Miles will make $1.4 million a year over six years at Nebraska. That’s a pretty hefty raise over the upgrade to $750,000 he was due to make after a July contract bump. I’m sure it would have been tough for Miles to life off three-quarters of a million dollars for one more year.

The Big 10 is the Big 10, regardless of how many teams play in the poorly-named conference. However, the Cornhusker job has to be considered the cellar of that conference and Miles has some serious, serious work to do to even be mentioned in the same sentence as Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue, etc.

Nebraska? It’s tough to imagine Timmy sticking around at CSU, entering the national rankings, making the tournament as 5-seed and not entertaining a job offer that exceeds that of freaking Nebraska.

It will be interesting to see how many promising players will stick around and how many will follow the trends of major college basketball and transfer to other schools with coaches who appear to be as committed as Miles once was.

Now Miles leaves behind a fan base which at times could be apathetic and whose true fans are now stuck wondering what might have been. And Rams fans are back to square one, wondering if there are any coaches ready to take over a new program. Coaches filled with school pride and loyalty.

Just like Tim Miles once was.

Sidenote:  Two personal favorite Tim Miles memories: 1) Standing in the student section the season we went 0-16 in MWC play and as Miles makes his way to the bench my friend says, “How ’bout a ‘dub (W) tonight??” Miles smiles, points at him, and says, “I think that sounds like a good idea!”   2) One of my best friends’ last night in Fort Collins, a Sunday night at CB & Potts. Out of nowhere an apparently fairly buzzed Miles is leaving. My friend says, “TIIIIM!” Miles turns, smiles and embraces my buddy in a heartfelt hug. …Good Times; we’ll miss him.

The Evolution of Moby, Court-Rushing Etiquette, The Biggest Game in Years and Other Thoughts Regarding CSU Basketball

The following will be a long, meandering post regarding the state of Colorado State basketball.

Let’s start with my experience at Moby Arena last Wednesday night. No, actually let’s start with when I became a regular at The Whale. I started going to CSU games on the reg my freshman year which was… let me think here, the 2006-2007 season. That team was actually pretty decent for a while. Jason Smith was first-team all Mountain West. I remember a couple games with decent crowds and good energy that year. Upsets of BYU and a Bob Huggins-coached Kansas State team jump out in my memory. The season peaked when CSU received one tally in the “others receiving votes” column of the national rankings. While that’s all well and good, things kind of fell apart from that moment on– not just for the season, but for the program as a whole. Dale Layer was fired. Smith entered the NBA draft. Everyone else on the team transferred somewhere. Some dude from North Dakota State was hired to coach. He went 0-16 his first year in the Mountain West. I was at most of those home games.

Tim Miles vs. Air Force

Tim Miles plays a little defense in a win against Air Force. Miles has led an impressive transformation of a downtrodden program. AP Photo.

My overall memory of Moby Arena in my time as a student do not contain the words Madness, Magic or Maniacs. What I remember is the student sections (Yes CSU splits the student section in two, which is dumb) usually filling about halfway up.

I remember the big scoreboard that had to be as old as my parents. There was no state-of-the-art videoboards. That meant no pregame video introductions. No replays. No speeches from Ron Burgundy. The damn thing was missing about 20 percent of its light bulbs and every five minutes would advertise snacks at the concession stands by flashing the words “NACHOS!” or “HOT DOGS!”. When it wasn’t doing that, it was providing some 1960s-quality animation of a cheerleader jumping up and down or flashing the word “NOISE” to the 1,800 people there. Hard to believe that technique wasn’t all that effective.

One game (I wanna say Utah, junior year) a friend and I were debating on whether or not to go; we didn’t. At halftime, CSU was surprisingly only a couple points down, so we decided what the hell, let’s catch the second half. We walked up during halftime and sat– literally– in the front row of the student section. The Rams lost. That was a common occurrence. When my friends and I joke that we are martyrs who went through four years of pain for the good of future students, we’re only half joking.

Fast forward to this season’s home finale. #17 UNLV. Wednesday. 8 p.m. I drove up from North Denver even though I had to work south of Denver early the next morning, meaning I would not being staying somewhere in FoCo and there would be no drinking. (Yes, in my day, the uncompetiveness of CSU turned many a game into nothing more than an excuse to party, which was welcome for my group of friends. I also realize uncompetiveness is not a word). Anyway, I picked up my longtime CSU-diehard friend and we hoped for the best. We didn’t try to acquire free student tickets using our old student IDs or talking to the slew of friends who are still up there. We treated this one like real-life alumni, CSU polos and all. (If you didn’t know, nothing says “alumni” of any college like a polo).

I’ve been to a few games after graduation. I saw Air Force this year in a mellow blowout. Last season it was BYU and San Diego State, both sellouts, both losses. The SDSU game was probably the biggest heartbreaker of my CSU career. There was a noticeable difference in the atmosphere and electricity for those games last year. But even those were nothing compared to Wednesday night. The student sections were packed over capacity and they were good and drunk and very loud and very into the game. It was great to see. The non-student crowd was pumped too, well, they were until UNLV started dominating.

Vegas was up 15 at halftime and it appeared the Mitch-Hahn-Big-Game-CSU-Curse was in full effect. When the Rebels went up 16 with under 17 minutes to play. I tapped my friend’s shoulder and said, “Let me know when you’re ready to go.”

Then the Rams flipped a switch and all hell broke loose. The entire near-sellout crowd was on its feet for the last 12 minutes of the fierce comeback. The student sections were doing their thing where they simply jump in rhythm to a hip-hop or techno song. That sounds a little lame, but it is freaking awesome. Stuff like that did not exist when I was there, much as I tried. The night culminated with this:

.

Tim Miles, who is never afraid to flash a big smile, celebrates after beating UNLV at a raucous Moby Arena Wednesday night. AP Photo.

Moby Arena, you’ve come a long way.

That said, there’s still plenty of room for growth. In that video did you notice the students rushing the court? No? Well they did. It was the fourth time this season. FOURTH TIME! Colorado, SDSU, New Mexico and UNLV.

Okay before you get upset with me over what is apparently a sensitive topic, hear me out. I have no problem with the CSU fans rushing the court after beating UNLV. They completed a 16-point comeback against the #17 team in the country. The win had huge implications on the possibility of postseason play. Standing alone, there was nothing wrong Wednesday night’s celebration.

But just think if that was the first time the students rushed the court this year. How much more special would that have been? Now you might ask me, “So we’re only allowed to rush the court once a season?” Well, I don’t make the rules, but if I did I would say no.

You should rush the court less than once a season.

While we’re on the topic of student sections– and remember I was pumped to see how the CSU students came out and acted on Wednesday– there was a couple things that made me roll my eyes. Chanting “F***-The-Reb-els” is stupid. It just is. The vulgarity is stupid, but really, the fact that a 6th-grader could come up with a more creative chant is what bothers me. Not to worry though, because that was followed up with a “Rebels suck” chant when UNLV was up by like 14 points. Come on. I don’t think it takes a genius to see the stupidity in that.

Okay, I mentioned the possibility of postseason play earlier, allow me to elaborate on that. After the UNLV win Wednesday and handling Air Force on Saturday, most bracket projections have CSU in the tournament and most even removed them from their “Last 4 In” category. So, yes as it stands right now the Colorado State Rams are in the tournament. The thing is, the season is not quite over.

Jesse Carr vs. Duke

A tough schedule, including a game at Duke, has the CSU Rams ready to play in the NCAA tournament. Check out this video of Jesse Carr throwing it down on SportsCenter. Photo Courtesy Gary Brooome/AP.

The Rams play TCU Thursday at 3:30 in Las Vegas in the opening round of the Mountain West tournament. Lose that one, and Selection Sunday might not be much fun. TCU took CSU to double overtime in Fort Collins, then beat the Rams in Fort Worth, so this game is no gimmie. The Horned Frogs are a surprisingly athletic team and Hank Thorns was recently named All-Mountain West. I would guess CSU will be about 2 point favorites, but one would have to hope the Rams come out and preform well knowing the win-and-we’re-almost-for-sure-in situation. If CSU gets by TCU, they will (probably) play San Diego State in the semis. If I were a betting man, which I am, I would take CSU in this one. The Rams have played the Aztecs very, very tough in splitting the season series. A win against SDSU makes the Rams a lock.

I’m getting ahead of myself here. Forget anything I said about a second round matchup. Beat TCU on Thursday, and the Rams are probably gunna go dancing. Lose, and head to the NIT. That makes Thursday’s game the biggest CSU basketball game since 2003 when Matt Nelson and company lost to Duke in the first round of the NCAAs.

(By the way… please don’t ask me if winning the NIT would be better than getting into the tournament and losing in the first round. Screw that. You play all season with the hope of lacing ’em up in The Big Dance with the nation watching. You’re not dreaming about playing Northwestern or Iona on a Wednesday night).

Ram fans have good reason to be reluctant to get their hopes up, but Tim Miles’ scrappy bunch has proved to be resilient and tough over the course of this season. So here’s hoping they come up big this week, win a game or two, and realize their dream of playing in the NCAA tournament. Not just for the players, but for all the fans who remember the boring games, the empty arena, the losses and that damn scoreboard.

Dorian Green, Wes Eikmeier, Greg Smith. Photo courtesy,  Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Juniors Dorian Green, Greg Smith and All-Mountain West Wes Eikmeier have had plenty of reasons to smile this season. Photo courtesy Ethan Miller/Getty Images.