"The View From The Stands": Colorado State
Pre-game: The lack of ambience is palpable as I walk into Maples Pavilion 25 minutes before tip-off as not even 1,000 people are in the house. We'll see how many are here as we get closer to the announcement of the lineups. There was about a 3.5 hour gap between this game (an 8:00 p.m. start) and the end of the Stanford/Notre Dame debacle, which may affect actual attendance, but regardless, the "announced attendance" will be 7,339, the number of tickets sold for tonight's game.
Pre-game: Since I was not here for the Yale game on Tuesday, this is my first time seeing the new banners for men's and women's basketball, along with the women's volleyball, that they've put up since moving into the new Maples Pavilion. They look nice, simple, and classy, along with leaving room for subsequent conference and national championships that these teams could win.
Pre-game: I don't know too much about the Colorado State University Rams, except that they are 3-1, won their last game by one over Portland State, and have one of the most interesting arena floor paint-jobs in the country (You can sort of see it here - http://www.sinkcombs.com/projects/arena/Moby/moby2.jpg)
Pre-game: Fans starting to appear in droves with just a few minutes before tip-off, so we'll probably see an arena that turns out to be one-third to one-half full. Only about 50-75 6th Man Club members are here, but that's to be expected as the vast majority of students are not back from their week-long Thanksgiving break.
Pre-game: The last song to play before the buzzer sounds is "Strike It Up" by early 90s band, Black Box. Thought I'd share that with y'all before we get to the starting lineup.
Lineups: The Rams start a three-guard lineup, but have a stellar big man in long-armed seven-foot-tall senior Stuart Creason who could give the Cardinal trouble. He had just been named MVP of the BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska the week before. Stanford starts Mitch Johnson, Anthony Goods, Lawrence Hill, Robin Lopez, and Fred Washington.
Opening Tip: Hey, Robin Lopez won a tip! Hope that becomes a new trend as the season progresses.
19:07 left in First Half: After a missed lay-up by Washington, Colorado State grabs two offensive rebounds in their first possession, but miss three shots before Johnson finally grabs a defensive board for the Cardinal.
18:53: Lopez successfully dribbles out of a Ram double-team, but misses a lay-up inside the paint. If he learns to use that move some more, it could become a valuable tool for him to use.
17:31: Goods has first wide-open look from the left wing, but it goes long. Maybe some home cooking will help him get back into the groove.
16:52: Has Robin been taking lessons from Brook in shooting three-pointers? It sure seems like it as Lopez was left alone at the top of the key and he drained a shot from just beyond the arc, giving Stanford its first points of the game, leaving the Cardinal down 4-3.
15:53: Colorado State's two buckets have both been on tough shots, so the Stanford defense has been doing a good job thus far, but the offense has struggled so far. Sounds a bit familiar to what I saw at Stanford Stadium earlier this afternoon…
15:44: Hill gets a nice feed inside from Washington (via Lopez out of a quick pass out of a double-team) to give Stanford its first lead, the only one they needed as the game turned out.
14:59: Washington continues to show great hustle as he gets an uncontested lay-up after grabbing an offensive rebound off a Hill miss.
13:22: Washington ends another break opportunity with a reverse lay-up off of a sequence that started with an uncounted block from Lopez, a rebound from Johnson, and a great pass from Mitch. The Cardinal are currently on a 9-2 run over the past four minutes.
12:48: The first wholesale substitution of the night happens as every starter save for Washington comes out. We'll see how the bench does in the midst of this run.
11:50: Kenny Brown gets one of the more unique assists I can remember. After a Rams turnover, the bowl is loose by the Colorado State bench and is about to go out of bounds. Brown decides to "kick" the ball to Fields, making the perfect pass for the goa…I mean dunk for Landry Fields. Colorado State's bench erupts, asking for a kicked ball, but the referees were behind the play and didn't see the ball hit foot. A nice break for Stanford, now up on the Rams 11-6. [Replays would show it wasn't really a kick]
10:23: Brown puts an exclamation point on a 17-2 Stanford run, hitting the second of back-to-back three-pointers by Brown and Fields, hitting the shot with nary a hand in his face and giving the Cardinal a 17-6 lead.
9:15: Creason, who has been quieted by Lopez thus far, makes a nice move inside on Peter Prowitt to give the Rams their first bucket in over five minutes.
8:54: The starting line-up comes back on the floor for Stanford after Fields makes one of two free throws, giving the Cardinal a 9-2 advantage over that four-minute period.
8:32: Colorado State uses a nifty inbounds play to get an easy lay-up. It is one of the few signs of creativity from the Rams tonight as their offense has looked pretty vanilla up to this point in the game. The easy look gets CSU within eight at 18-10.
6:54: Time for your daily Lopez alley-oop as Goods finds him for a nifty one-hand jam, pushing Stanford's lead back to 12 at 22-10.
6:13: Goods grabs a defensive rebound and takes nearly coast-to-coast as he pulls up for a short jumper that is nothing but net. Perhaps this is the shot that helps Goods get off the schneid.
5:46: Only 27 seconds later, Taj Finger gets a steal, Washington leads a fast break, passing it to Johnson, who then finds Goods wide open on the left wing where the junior guard nails the three-pointer. Colorado State calls a 30-second timeout and comes out of the break in a 2-3 zone.
2:43: In four possessions, Stanford gets seven points off the non-trapping CSU zone, a jumper each from Goods and Johnson, along with a three-pointer from Drew Shiller, to push the lead up to 34-11. This pushes the Rams out of the zone while they continue to try and solve Stanford's tough lockdown man-to-man defense.
1:25: Colorado State gets called for their third carry of the half. I don't think I saw three carries called all last season.
Halftime: Stanford leads at the half 34-15, going scoreless over the last 2:43 of the half.
Halftime: I get a text message from fellow Bootleg columnist Cameron Tana who has seats tonight in Section 1, so I move from Section 7 to join him for the second half.
19:26 left in Second Half: Colorado State completes a three-point play to give itself a 7-0 run spanning the halves, bringing the Rams within 16 at 34-18.
19:12: Goods pumps in an open three-pointer from the right wing to stop the run and continue his way back to shooting at a higher percentage than he has in the past couple of days.
17:40: Goods continues his little hot streak as he caps a fast break with a three-pointer from the left wing, giving the Cardinal a commanding 40-18 advantage.
16:35: Rams guard Willis Gardner puts a move on the Stanford defense and converts a pretty dribble-drive into a lay-up. He will end up being CSU's leading scorer with 14.
15:31: Sitting a little lower in the upper bowl at Maples helps me hear the communication that Lopez receives when he gets double-teamed during this possession. He passes quickly out of it to find Hill wide open for a lay-up, doubling up the Rams at 46-23. Hopefully, the Cardinal do a lot more of that to help the big man out in future contests.
13:35: Finger rejects a shot out of play, but CSU gets a three-pointer off the renewed possession. However, this doesn't stop the smaller 6th Man Club contingent from breaking out into their "you got Fingered" chant.
12:32: Stanford tries a little 2-3 zone of their own with an all-bench lineup, but CSU shoots two jumpers to close the lead to 50-30.
11:30: Fields drives the baseline and finds Prowitt open underneath for the two-hand jam, stopping another small 7-0 run by the Rams. Prowitt really needed that.
10:57: Off of a rare missed free throw by Shiller, Finger gets a hand on the rebound on the left block and somehow tips the ball into the basket, generating one of the bigger roars from the crowd on the evening.
8:49: Lopez continues to add to his arsenal, making a soft free-throw line jumper, giving him 13 points on the night and the Cardinal a 21-point lead at 58-37.
7:07: Hill uses several screens to run the baseline and receives a pass from Johnson in the right corner. He drains the long-range jumper to give Stanford a 63-37 edge.
4:19: The funniest moment of the night happens when Colorado State reserve Jesse Woodard gets yelled at by one sole member of the 6th Man Club, imploring him to cut off his sideburns. Everyone in the building can hear it. Even made Woodard smile. Apparently the verbal attack distracted Woodard enough that he loses Finger underneath the basket and Taj gets an easy lay-up. "Sideburns" would miss all six shots he took on the night including his only free throw.
4:08: The last of the starters come out of the game to a nice ovation with Stanford up 69-42.
1:36: With the bench in the game and hoisting shots early in the shot clock on each possession, the Rams go on one last run, scoring eight in a row to cut the lead to 69-50. CSU first-year coach Tim Miles calls a time-out to rally his troops and deliver a message before the game's final 96 seconds runs out. Give credit to CSU for not just shutting it down in the second half and giving it a good effort after a bad first half.
1:07: Prowitt, who had missed three free throws in a row, including one that didn't hit a single thing except for air, makes his last one, giving the crowd one more thing to cheer about before the final buzzer.
0:23: Brown hits a three-pointer from the left corner to give Stanford its final points of the game.
Post-game: The final score of 73-53 doesn't indicate the dominance of the Stanford defense which shut down the Rams for the majority of the first half. CSU guard Marcus Walker, who had scored 43 against Tennessee State in Alaska, was held to 13 points and no assists. Their big man Creason couldn't do anything against Robin, finishing with just eight points and four rebounds in 26 minutes. They were forced into shooting from beyond the arc where they were a miserable 3-15. Colorado State's bench provided just seven points vs. 24 from the Cardinal bench.
Post-game: Looking at the box score, Stanford had just five turnovers and eighteen assists, a 3.6 to 1 ratio. This is partially due to not making many mental errors, but it is also due to the defense Colorado State played, which didn't involve much pressure at all, something the Cardinal has struggled with in the past.
Post-game: One thing Stanford will have to work on is rebounding as the Rams matched the Cardinal at 37 boards, but 15 of CSU's were on the offensive glass. Hopefully, the 6-1 Stanford Cardinal will shore this deficiency up before their game this Tuesday vs. the 1-5 Sacramento State Hornets. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Maples Pavilion.
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