When something becomes a constant, it’s easy to take it for granted.
Dorian Green started 127 consecutive games for the CSU basketball team, and the Rams struggled when he wasn’t on the floor.
The offense sputtered with guys standing around like cars on I-15 coming into Las Vegas during rush hour.
Rebounds and hustle plays that CSU routinely made during the season went to the other team.
Green is this team’s pulse and consciousness. Conductor and frontman. Painted face Mel Gibson screaming, “Freedom!”
Without him they’re four jazz musicians all playing in a different time signature.
He tried to gut it out and play Friday night against UNLV, playing well in limited minutes until it appeared he re injured his ankle with roughly nine minutes remaining.
At that point UNLV lead by six.
The Rebels took over the games’ waning stretches and finished with a 10 point win to advance to the Mountain West tournament final.
Coach Larry Eustachy called his team’s performance “uncharactersitic.”
You can’t see it in the numbers. CSU still out-rebounded UNLV by 10 and held the Rebels below their season average for field goal percentage while forcing the rebels to turn the ball over 12 times.
They lacked the killer instinct that helped them win a program-record 25 games.
That instinct comes from Dorian Green.
Green always had the ball in his hands when the game’s outcome was in the balance.
He made the game sealing layup against UNLV in Fort Collins. Buried a late 3-pointer to lift them over San Diego State.
Time and time again Green steered CSU calmly like the captain of a ship.
He knew when to go full sails or half. Which cannons to fire. When to duck for cover.
When his teammates missed a defensive rotation or made a bad cut, Green called them out on it.
Sometimes stern, but they always listened because they respect him.
Green didn’t lead the team in scoring. Colton Iverson did that.
He isn’t their best three-point shooter. That’s Wes Eikmeier.
He isn’t the most athletic guy on the floor. Daniel Bejarano can run and jump circles around him.
Yet Dorian Green is the single most valuable player to the CSU basketball team.
With him, the Rams were ranked for the first time in nearly 60 years.
They achieved their highest Mountain West tournament seed ever.
They filled Moby on three separate occasions for the first time ever.
Without him CSU struggled in the second half against Nevada, scraped by a sub-.500 Fresno State team and got out-determined by UNLV in the most important game of the year.
The Rams will be in the NCAA tournament field Sunday.
They’ll go as far as Green’s ankle will take them.
Sports Editor Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.