Basketball games at Moby Arena are played similar to the daily cycle of the sun.
In every contest, Colorado State sets its target on the gym’s east basket to begin the game before switching sides after halftime when the Rams’ points are then scored on the west hoop.
But if every day started the way the past two home games for CSU have, there wouldn’t be enough coffee in town to snap you out of that morning funk. There’s a puzzling struggle associated with shooting at the east hoop that neither the men’s or women’s team were able to piece together this past week.
In both the men’s home game against Utah State last Tuesday and the women’s match up with Fresno State on Saturday, the Rams were colder than a Fort Collins winter when aiming east.
The men dug themselves into a hole that ultimately proved to be too big to crawl out of during the first half, sinking only five shot attempts while the east basket denied their other 24. The first frame was about as forgiving for the women also, who shot 6-for-27 and connected on only 13 percent of their shots from the 3-point line before turning it around at the west end for a 53-47 redemption win over the Bulldogs.
The back-to-back awful first half performances had me analyzing both baskets in search of an explanation as to why teams play better on the west end of the court. The one to the east is completely identical to its counterpart that faces 94 feet in front of it — both are constructed into a 42 by 72-inch cut of tempered glass that support the same iron rim 18 inches in diameter.
Maybe it’s the motivational halftime speeches, or perhaps it’s CSU’s opportunity to score in front of its own bench in the second half. When facing east, each team is presented with a set of obstacles not found on the other end of the basketball court.
In the distance above the goal stands the light-up Ram head — a McDonald’s advertisement board that is composed of 215 circular light bulbs which resemble a casino sign on the Las Vegas strip when flashing. Or there’s the CSU band posted up in the southeast corner of the arena, playing their instruments in the peripheral view of any player who lines up from the right side of the arch.
Saving the best for last, CSU gets to shoot at the more appealing west side of the arena in the half that matters most.
The most recent conference championship banners overhang the west end, compared to the ones on the other side awarded simply for appearing in a post-season tournament. In place of an advertisement board or distracting lights proudly towers a gigantic American flag that spans nearly the entire width of the court. Even the cheerleaders wearing gold uniforms who stand behind the west hoop are more attractive than the girls in green on the east side.
When it comes down to it, all four teams that took the Moby Arena hardwood last week outscored their opponent when shooting west, some more than others.
The CSU women bounced back from scoring only 16 points in the first half and turned them into 37 on the west end and the men more than tripled the 15 points they put through the east hoop when going the other way.
Whichever factor led to the struggle at the east basket has shown in the numbers and numbers never lie.
Collegian Sports Editor Quentin Sickafoose can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @QSickafoose.