Around the Horn, March 2, 2020

Around The Horn” is a resurrection of a column from the early days of RamNation.com. We take readers around the college athletics world, as it relates to Colorado State and the Mountain West Conference. This one is brought to you by Ginger and Baker, our incredible RamNation.com sponsor. Check out all of their different dining/events spaces, as well as their special events, cooking classes, and wine pairing dinners. 

Swoll observation. Steve Ivy’s recent blog noted how remarkable the Colorado State men’s basketball team’s 20-win season is considering the Rams regularly play four freshmen and two sophomores in their nine-man rotation. He pointed out that CSU is the 296th least experienced team in the country. Here’s how the rest of the Mountain West ranks in experience:

  1. SDSU 45
  2. USU 148
  3. Nevada 75
  4. UNLV 67
  5. Boise State 16
  6. New Mexico 19
  7. Fresno State 298
  8. Air Force 15
  9. San Jose State 233
  10. Wyoming 269

Rams recognized. The local MW media representatives’ votes are in, and Isaiah Stevens officially was named conference Freshman of the Year. He received nine votes, with teammate David Roddy and Fresno State’s Orlando Robinson receiving one vote each. Stevens started all 31 games this regular season (averaging 32.7 minutes per game), scoring 13 points and dishing 4.6 assists per game, with just 2 turnovers per game. He also was honorable mention all-conference (14 voter points), along with Roddy (6 voter points). Nico Carvacho was named second team all-conference (94 voter points), in a season where he broke the MW career record for rebounds (1,280) and double-doubles (48). 

San Diego State’s Malachi Flynn earned Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, and first-team all-conference honors. Aztecs’ coach Brian Dutcher was the unanimous Coach of the Year winner. Utah State’s Neemias Queta earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. The awards are a compilation of votes from media representatives from each conference member. Coloradoan‘s Kevin Lytle and the Loveland Reporter-Herald‘s Eddie Herz shared the vote for CSU’s market. 

Kmart value. It’s unfortunate there wasn’t a place for Kris Martin to be recognized. Martin showed selflessness this year when he was relegated to the first man off the bench in lieu of Roddy moving to the starting lineup. According to head coach Niko Medved, Martin never once complained and and showed leadership while more often than not giving the Rams a spark offensively and defensively. He was not eligible for the sixth man award, considering he started more games (17) than he came off the bench (14), but would have been a candidate with 7.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game and his influential defensive play (26 steals, 10 blocks). Nevada’s Zouzoua, Nisré won the award with 9.5 points per game and 2.5 rebounds per game (and 15 steals, 3 blocks). 

Pure Madness. The National College Players Association released a statement this weekend asking the NCAA to consider holding its March Madness tournament “without an audience present” over concerns about the worldwide coronavirus outbreak. It also is suggesting such precautions as canceling special events that put players in direct contact with crowds and ensuring that team buses and airplanes are properly sanitized. The group noted that “Google just cancelled a summit in California and Amazon is encouraging its employees to avoid all nonessential travel because of coronavirus concerns. The NCAA and its colleges must act now, there is no time to waste.”

This strange suggestion comes as 86 people in a U.S. population of 327-plus million have tested positive for the virus. 

The NCAA has said it is staying on top of the corona virus situation.

Bracketology. As we head into the MW Championship Wednesday, the conference is widely projected to get two bids. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi projects San Diego State as a 1-seed in the East Region, while Utah State, despite its loss at New Mexico Saturday, is among the last four in, earning an at-large 12-seed play-in game vs. Wichita State in the West Region. SB Nation has the same projections. CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm also has San Diego State as a 1-seed in the East and Utah State as a 12-seed play-in in the West, but projects the opponent would be Texas Tech. Utah State (23-8, NET ranking: 38) would be in a very precarious situation if it didn’t win at least a game in the MW tournament. Any other MW team would have to earn their way in via the league’s auto bid by winning the conference tournament.

Lucky No. 6. Despite vying for as high as the 2-seed just two weeks ago, the Rams dropped to 6th in the final MW standings. Their route to the championship begins against 11-seed Wyoming Wednesday afternoon, and should they beat the Cowboys for the third time this season, would advance to the quarterfinals to play 3-seed Nevada, who the Rams split against this season. The 6-seed may not be as bad as it seems, considering the Rams’ would avoid the top two seeds as long as possible (a matchup vs. No. 2 Utah State wouldn’t come until the semifinals, and a matchup vs. No. 1 San Diego State wouldn’t come until the championship). Plus, the Rams have won the tournament from the 6-seed before. In their only MW conference championship, back in 2003, the Rams went in as a 6-seed and proceeded to sweep Wyoming (74-71), BYU (86-80), and UNLV (62-61). The Rams thus earned the league’s auto-bid and faced blueblood Duke in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, putting a scare into the Blue Devils before falling late, 67-57.  

NET Rankings. The MW ended the regular season with four teams in the top 100 NET Rankings — San Diego State (4), Utah State (38), Nevada (86), and Boise State (95). CSU spent many weeks in the top 100, but finished just outside the top 100 at 102. By comparison, here’s how the other top conferences fared:

  • AAC: 7 out of 12 teams
  • ACC: 12 out of 15
  • Atlantic 10: 7 out of 14
  • Big 12: 9 out of 10
  • Big East: 10 out of 10
  • Big Ten: 12 out of 14
  • CUSA: 2 out of 14
  • Missouri Valley: 3 out of 10
  • Pac-12: 10 out of 12
  • SEC: 12 out of 14
  • Southern Conference: 3 out of 10
  • WCC: 4 out of 10

Ice Ice Baby. The CSU women’s basketball team concluded its disappointing season by dropping two consecutive games to Air Force — including an opening-round loss in the MW Championships Sunday evening. The Rams were once again undone by an ice-cold performance from the field, shooting 35% overall and 16% from behind the arc. They got off to a horrific start, shooting just 21% in the first quarter and totaling just 15 points in the first half. It’s been their M.O. for most of the season. 

In this year’s 12-18 campaign, they shot just 38.3 % for the season, which was a decline from last year’s 8-22 team that shot a putrid 38.6%. Prior to that, head coach Ryun Williams’ teams had never shot below 40% for a season since he arrived in 2012. Williams coached Colorado State to four straight outright regular-season Mountain West titles from 2013-17, with 20-plus wins each season during that stretch and a high-water mark of 30-2 in 2015-16. Coach will need to find some shooters on the recruiting trail this offseason. 

MW Combine. The Rams didn’t have any footballers invited to the NFL combine, but Boise State had four (OT Ezra Cleveland, WR John Hightower, OL John Molchon, and DE Curtis Weaver), Fresno State two (LB/DE Mykal Walker
and OL Netane Muti), Hawaii one (QB Cole McDonald), Utah State three (QB Jordan Love, LB David Woodward, and LB Tipa Galeai), San Diego State one (OL Keith Ismael), and Wyoming one (LB Logan Wilson). 

Of the bunch, Love received the bulk of the love. Scouts raved about his combine performance, and he is considered to be the third-best QB of the class behind LSU’s Joe Burrow and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. 

CSU, meanwhile, will host its Pro Day Wednesday March 11 at the Indoor Practice Facility (although the event is not open to the public).

Spring forward. The CSU football squad started spring practices this weekend, and the highlight was the news that defensive lineman Toby McBride, who had previously decided to forego his senior season due to a history of back issues, would play in 2020.

Head coach Steve Addazio said after Day 1’s workouts: “It’s great to see Toby and have him being out here this offseason and winter training, lifting, workouts. He’s a warrior, he loves ball, and he brings a sense of toughness to our program, so we’re certainly excited to have Toby.” 

Meanwhile, McBride’s mom Kate tweeted the following.


Better digs.
In a news us Q&A with the Athletic, Addazio said the facilities at CSU surpass what he had at his former job at Boston College. “The stadium and the facilities inside are better. It’s fantastic. Putting this together, the foresight is really unbelievable. I think these are Power 5 facilities. A great opportunity to recruit, to use your facilities to help train and develop your players.”

The Q&A also covers topics such as his viewpoints on his tenure at BC, the publicized few negative tweets from former players at BC, why he was interested in the CSU job, and the shaving of the ‘stache.

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 All previous Around the Horn columns can be found here. 

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