No one fought harder than point guard Dorian Green, who injured an ankle in the team’s season finale, only to push himself and play in the team’s Mountain West Conference Tournament semifinal match-up.
In the first game Wednesday, a win over the Fresno State Bulldogs, Green was sorely missed. The Rams offense was repulsive in the first half of that contest, scoring a mere 26 points on four assists. While they found a way to win in the second half, the highest scoring team in the MW was clearly missing their on-court leader.
It seemed clear; without Green on Saturday, CSU would surely lose.
So, the man that missed only one game in his four years with the school – Wednesday versus Fresno – decided to play and try to give his team a boost.
Green was “good to go,” though, he was nowhere near 100 percent. Despite hitting one three-pointer, his four other attempts from beyond the arc came up short. It was evident he didn’t have the legs to elevate and get the ball where it needed to go, in the hoop instead of off the front rim. It was also obvious he didn’t have the agility needed to play on the defensive end. The Rebels intelligently attacked Green, drawing two early fouls on him and forcing the senior to sit down.
Later, in the second half, Green seemed to re-injure his ankle in a four-player melee under the rim. He limped off the court in pain and was forced to watch the rest of the loss from the sideline. The point guard has been CSU’s most clutch player all season long, without him, the Rams faded down the stretch. They couldn’t manage to score a field goal for nearly the last five minutes of the contest; the offense was out-of-sorts minus Green. And his deft outside shooting was lacking as well, the team made a mere 4-16 from downtown while UNLV hit 7-18 against CSU’s soft perimeter defense.
Simply stated, Colorado State won’t win in the NCAA Tournament without Green. But, it was clear that was the case before the MW semifinal; so, was it smart to start him anyway?
The easy answer here is, no. The team lost and he was re-injured. Of course, hindsight it’s 20/20.
If the Rams would have won the game, they’d be in the MW Championship against the New Mexico Lobos today, and they would have improved their tournament seeding.
In the end though, the gamble wasn’t worth the payoff in Las Vegas. When fans look back on the best year in Colorado State basketball history, they’ll remember how the team did in the big dance, not a second round MW Tourney game.
Risking Green’s health creates more questions heading into the NCAA tourney, where the Rams would love to win at least one game and improve on last season. This squad is good enough to get to the Sweet Sixteen, but not if Green can’t go.
Luckily for CSU, he’ll have five days of rest before the team’s first game and all eyes will be on Green when the Rams tip off on Thursday.