Are We Seeing Another Late-Season Collapse From Colorado State?

John H Holmberg – USA Today Sports

This season was special–or so we thought.

Colorado State Rams Basketball has been better than advertised, exceeding expectations and breaking school records all year long. Larry Eustachy has come in and revolutionized the way the Rams play basketball. It’s all about rebounding and defense first. The scoring will come along afterward. He’s challenging his players like they’d never seen before and some have responded more positively than others along the way.
Those five senior starters are the reason why CSU has been so dominant. Experience is essential when it comes to college basketball. The Rams have that much-needed experience and they’ve tried to improve on their weaknesses with mixed results.

Without a doubt, they’ve become a better road team–going 5-6 to this point–but are they good enough away from Moby Arena to make a run in either the Mountain West Conference Tournament or the NCAA Tournament? Can they even make the big dance?

Colorado State has lost games to the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels in Vegas, the New Mexico Lobos at home and most recently, to the Boise State Broncos on Saturday. Are we witnessing another late-season collapse?

In 2010-11, the Rams were incredibly close to making the NCAA tourney, but then dropped 5-6 games to end those hopes. Last year, they lost 3-4 games during a stretch in February, making them a bubble team and forcing everyone to wait for Selection Sunday.

It’s possible we’re witnessing yet another collapse in part due to poor rebounding and even worse defense.

The Rams live by beating opponents on the boards and handily. It’s all about physical effort, exertion and determination, but they haven’t been consistent enough. In the loss to UNLV, CSU was out-rebounded 38-31 for the first time all season long.

Even though they enjoyed the 42-33 boarding advantage against New Mexico, guard Kendall Williams put up 46 and was unstoppable from outside. Three nights later, Derrick Marks scored 38 points as the Rams continue to go below high screens and get burned by hot shooting guards.

If they can’t right the ship this week, it will sink like a stone.

CSU has another tough road contest this Wednesday in Laramie, Wyo. against the rival Wyoming Cowboys. They may be without starting forward Leonard Washington, who is suffering from a sprained ankle. Even though the Cowboys have lost their last four straight contests, they’ll want to bring Doom in the Dome for the Rams season and Colorado State will have to battle to win Wednesday at 8 p.m. Mountain.

Then, on Saturday, the Rams host the Nevada Wolf Pack in the regular season finale at Moby at 6:30 p.m. Mountain.

Back-to-back wins would be wonderful for CSU, creating some momentum and confidence heading into the conference tournament.

This is the season when Colorado State can do something special, like winning a game or two in the NCAA Tournament, and if they don’t regain focus quickly, these Rams will fade into obscurity like so many teams before them.

Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist. You can follow Rich on twitter or facebook.

 

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