The CSU women’s basketball team was dealt a harsh dose of reality on Tuesday night when it suffered arguably one of its worst losses of the 2013-14 season.
By contrast, the upset served as a monumental moment for San Jose State, which has been experiencing more than a fair share of struggle through its inaugural season in the Mountain West. It was an opportunity for the whopping 420 people in attendance at The Events Center to throw a celebratory fist in the air. But most importantly, it proved to be a wake-up call for the top conference-ranked Rams.
The biggest lesson the team could take from dropping what should have been an easy rout of SJSU is that they’re still susceptible to falling to any squad at any time. Colorado State has been walking around with a giant target on its back since conference play kicked off two months ago and it’s been growing at an exponential rate. The Spartans, who are nearly the bottom feeders of the Mountain West, exposed a weakness in CSU that likely has Fresno State, Nevada and Boise State all salivating over their shot at tasting redemption.
The loss to SJSU was beneficial in the fact that it proved the Rams are public enemy No. 1. That’s more valuable than a win when you already have the regular season title in the bag — and the Mountain West Conference in Las Vegas next week, the most important stretch of the season.
The Rams will need to put up a bigger fight in Sin City than a primetime Mike Tyson if they want more than a square-inch cut of basketball net to show for a 22- or 23-win regular season. The Mountain West is a relatively weak basketball conference, which puts the chances of receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament at slim to none.
It’s either Vegas or bust for the Rams.
Luckily, Tuesday’s loss against SJSU fits perfectly with Ryun Williams’ method of preaching his basketball knowledge.
Football Head Coach Jim McElwain thinks years in advance. Larry Eustachy is fine calling out how bad or well his team played the night before. Williams won’t talk about anything but the next game.
We’ve witnessed that CSU can strive when playing “Ryun Williams basketball,” which is the idea that his mindset is in the same spot on Feb. 19, when CSU had won 17 of its last 18 games, that it was on Dec. 30, 2012 when the Rams lost eight of their nine prior match ups. No matter the circumstance, the upcoming contest is still the biggest one of the season.
The Rams have SJSU to thank for reminding them of that idealism, which will be incredibly realistic as the Rams enter the win-or-go-home rounds of the MW tournament.
Sure, CSU might have failed Tuesday’s assessment. But the Rams still have to pass four of their most important tests of the season with flying colors before all 15 players on the current roster even have a chance to prepare for the biggest exam of their basketball careers.
The wake-up call dialed after Tuesday’s loss has all the potential to serve as a firing power that can lift the Colorado State basketball program back into the big dance for the first time since 2002.
Sports Editor Quentin Sickafoose can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @QSickafoose.