LAS VEGAS — It’s one and done for the CSU men’s basketball team these days.
One win and the Rams move one step closer to a Mountain West Conference tournament title. One loss and their season is likely over.
The Rams (16-15, 8-10 Mountain West) enter Wednesday’s matchup with 11th-seeded San Jose State with only one thing on their mind: the Spartans.
There’s no time for looking ahead to a possible rematch with No. 3-seed Boise State, or even to enjoy all of the outside distractions the city has to offer. If you ask Tiel Daniels, this trip is about unfinished business.
“This is definitely different from a regular-season game,” Daniels said. “Everything is magnified. When you walk into the hotel, they’ve got Colorado State and the Mountain West logo in the hotel. We’re in Vegas, so you know there’s gambling and it’s unlike anything they (younger players) have ever seen. But we’re here for business. This isn’t a fun trip and this isn’t a vacation — it’s a business trip, so we need to be focused. When Coach (Eustachy) lets us go, we need to get to our rooms and do what we need to do. But I think the main thing we (seniors) have to do is focus and let these guys know we’re here for business and to win games.”
The neutral site tournament provides a setting this team is familiar with after playing in the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic earlier this season. However, the stakes in Vegas — as they are for every team this time of year — are higher than they’ve ever been.
For CSU, it comes down to balance on both ends of the floor, something the Rams haven’t always been able to translate from their home court — where they are 12-5 this season — to an opponents’ floor, where they are just 3-9. CSU head coach Larry Eustachy has harped on the fact that the Rams must be able to take their game away from Moby Arena.
“I’ve always said it’s about who you play and where you play them,” Eustachy said. “… We can get our game on a neutral court, but they (San Jose State) can gets theirs here, too. I think it’ll be hard-fought, and whoever wins it’ll be well-deserved.”
For Colorado State’s four seniors, Wednesday could be the last game they ever play in a CSU uniform, and this week will without a doubt be their last at the Mountain West tournament. Joe De Ciman has played here four times, while Fred Richardson and Tiel Daniels have each been here twice. But for Antwan Scott, this is his first chance at a meaningful postseason game after spending three years at SWAC bottom-feeder Grambling State before sitting out most of last season with a foot injury.
To Scott, this is all a new experience.
“I might be a little jittery. This is probably the biggest game I’ve ever played in,” Scott said. “You know at Grambling, a lot of those games weren’t that big. The SWAC tournament, we might win in the first round, but this is a very different atmosphere. I think I’ll be nervous early, but I think I’ll get over it.”
Collegian Senior Sports Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @ByKeeganPope.