Colorado State coaches emphasize keeping a level head as Rams prepare for No. 6 Nevada
When Colorado State hosts No. 6 Nevada on Wednesday night, it will be a rare opportunity for local hoops fans to see a top-10 team in Moby Arena.
While the matchup with the Wolf Pack technically holds the same weight as any other league game—there is no denying that it’s the biggest game of the season for CSU—and with roughly six weeks until the Mountain West Tournament, it provides an excellent opportunity to gauge where the Rams are at as a program.
Nevada has been the face of the conference for three years and in 2018-19, the Wolf Pack are easily the most talented team that CSU will face any time soon. When these teams faced each other in January, Nevada essentially ran CSU out of the gym in a 40-point home victory, but really the game was over with about 12:00 remaining in the second half as Niko Medved explained after practice on Tuesday.
According to Medved, there were some positive takeaways from the Jan. 23 performance, but CSU simply got bested by an extremely talented basketball team that night. As Medved sees it, the important thing for CSU was how the team was able to respond by winning two of its next three games.
“You can’t get too up, you can’t get too down,” Medved said. “Every game the ball is tipped at 0-0. It’s just another opportunity for us.”
So far this season, the Rams have been a mixed bag with extreme highs and lows on the defensive end, but if CSU is going to have any shot of knocking off Nevada, Medved knows that it will take a complete performance on both ends. The Wolf Pack are averaging 81.4 points per game and possess the most experienced roster in all of college basketball. If CSU gives any Nevada any opportunity to break the game open, the Wolf Pack will take it.
“They obviously have a ton of scorers, but I think the thing that they do best is defend,” Medved said. “Their versatility defensively, the way they can switch everything and disrupt what you do; you don’t see that (with) any other team that you face all year. They can completely drive you and drive teams out of what they like to do and that’s what’s hard to get a look at in practice.”
Coming off of a dominant victory over Air Force, assistant coach Ali Farokhmanesh explained that the guys should be feeling confident, but also knows that preparation is paramount when faced against a juggernaut like the Wolf Pack. In any other aspect of life, giving 80 or 90 percent is typically enough effort to get the job done, but that extra 10 percent is what can ultimately make the difference in a matchup like Wednesday night’s.
In the grueling process that is a college basketball season, keeping a level head and focusing on the little things is not always easy, but that is what winning basketball programs are able to do. Specifically, that is what a program like Nevada is able to do, and it’s why UNR has transformed from a mediocre mid-major to one of the nation’s most successful hoops programs.
With so much of our daily lives fueled with instant gratification, it’s easy to forget that winning is often the culmination of doing the little things right on a daily basis. And if CSU wants to elevate itself to the level of Nevada, the Rams must learn to strive for perfection 24/7.
“It’s that process of learning how to win and that takes time,” Farokhmanesh said.
CSU and Nevada will tip off at 8:00 p.m. MT in Moby Arena. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.