The Falcons survived what can only be called a character building experience.
The second half--or really the last 12 minutes or so--was a nail-biter that
tested every aspect of our game. CSU may not have beaten anybody big yet, but
they came very close to beating us, and they'll go on from here to knock off a
lot of MWC teams at Moby. I expect them to be near .500 or better in league
Now for some observations. Hard to pick a player of the game, but I've got to cite Jake. He dominated in the last 5 minutes with steals, taking a big charge, rebounds and a huge 3 to give us some separation when we needed it. He tossed up a couple of bricks early but hit his 3's late and sunk the FTs we needed. Super effort throughout.
CSU made a conscious effort to take away our cuts, but in the first half Danny Nwaelele and Matt McCraw dominated with their shooting along with Tim Anderson. Tim played extremely solid ball (4-5 from 3), challenging the big guys inside, grabbing big rebounds, and handling the ball well.
Danny was superb, shooting lights out and playing great D. He and Matt took turns knocking down 3's in the first. CSU tried to stop the 3 in the second half with some success, but Danny challenged inside in response.
Kudos to John Frye (JD) and Andrew Henke for their excellent role playing. JD "always" seems to make an impact and tonight was no exception. Same recipe each time: a big block, rebound, tip-in, lay-up, pass for an open 3. John spelled Nick when Welch was in foul trouble and made the Twin Towers work that much harder.
Nick had one of his more frustrating games. He missed a couple of lay-ups early, had a shot swatted by Creason, and couldn't seem to get into the flow. Still he played good D and passed well for open shots. We'll need more from him against UNLV.
Coach Jeff Bzdelik went to the bench with a small line-up in the 1st and it worked well. Andrew's speed paid off and he did fine against Smith defensively. Not sure why we didn't try that in the 2nd half, but I won't argue with success.
Weaknesses by the Falcons tonight included some poor weak-side help that almost caused Coach to have an aneurysm and some late poor D against rainbow 3's put up miraculously by Lewis--glad he waited to bomb away! All too often we saw the 2 x 7' pick-and-roll and we had no answer without help early in the play on two fronts. Tonight though, we were trading our 3's for their 2's most of the game and we held on.
Massive props to the whole team for holding it together through a tough stretch of 2 and 3 pt leads. Big steals by Tim and Danny, then a couple of huge rebounds and defensive stands when we most needed it, kept the 7000 CSU fans in check. A couple of times I thought we were losing our composure, but this team refused to break under some withering pressure--always fighting back when the lead shrunk to 2 or 3. On the road (or anywhere) that's the sign of a championship caliber team. Thanks also to the big-time turnout of Blue. Huge cheers and lots of fun had by all. Drive safely folks!
See you all Saturday at the reception and game.
Stalag (b-berrying it on I-25) OUT!
The Falcons host UNLV (14-2) at Clune Arena (aka The Chamber) on Sat, 6 Jan 07. Game time is 1:30 pm (MT).