College basketball has never been very big on the front range in Colorado, but last night was different. Both Colorado and Colorado State were off to hot starts this season, Buffs 6-1 and won Charleston Classic while the Rams were undefeated, and the hype surrounding this matchup was something rarely seen in the basketball version of the Rocky Mountain Showdown.
Colorado head coach Tad Boyle knew that to beat a very good, physical Rams team they would have to focus on doing one thing, dictate.
“Dictate . . . that was on our board in the locker room” Boyle said in his postgame press conference. “Dictate tempo and pressure; let them know they were in for 40 minutes of in-your-face basketball.”
Right from the start, that’s exactly what Colorado did as they jumped out to 9-0 lead that they stretched to a 15-2 advantage just minutes into the game. That’s how Colorado wanted to start – get a quick lead and get the crowd behind them – and they executed perfectly.
A tough week of practice, one that included heavy body contact and bloodied players, is what the Buffs utilized to prepare for a tough Rams team and it paid off, frustrating Colorado State’s hottest player coming in, Colton Iverson. The Minnesota transfer wasn’t prepared for the physical style of defense that the Buffs threw at him as it took him out of his game and frustrated him to the point of yelling at the refs and getting called for a technical foul.
On the other side of the spectrum Colorado guard Spencer Dinwiddie felt very comfortable and found his groove early. The sophomore spoke out before the game, calling CSU Colorado’s “little brother” and guaranteeing a victory, but he backed it up on the court scoring 15 first half points and finishing with a career-high 29. Along with Dinwiddie, Andre Roberson had another double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds, his fourth one of the season.
Colorado State would make a run in the second half after being down by 20 at halftime, but it wasn’t enough as they would drop their first game of the season. Rams head coach Larry Eustachy said that he didn’t have his team prepared enough for Colorado’s raucous atmosphere that included a record crowd of 11,708.
“I talked to the team afterward and apologized to them I said, ‘Obviously I have not gotten you tough enough to get your game and take it from Fort Collins in here to Boulder…” Eustachy commented after the game. “We got pushed around by a group of young guys that talked in the paper and they backed it up. It starts with me. It must be a soft coach, soft team, right now, in these environments.”
An atmosphere like what was on hand in Boulder last night is rarely seen on the front range and it’s exciting to see such excitement for two up and coming programs. Both teams are very good, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see both playing in the NCAA Tournament come March.
David LaRose is one of the featured College Basketball writers for Rant Sports covering the Pac 12 and the University of Colorado. He’s also a member of the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association of America. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Facebook page.