With the Colorado State basketball team set to take on Colorado Wednesday Nov. 30, Collegian sports editor Chad Deutschman shared questions with CU Independent sports editor Justin Guerriero about the game.
Chad Deutschman: Colorado State forward Emmanuel Omogbo was just named MW player of the week after averaging a double-double over fall break and leading the MW in rebounds. How do you expect the CU defense to handle Omogbo’s effort on the glass and scoring inside?
Justin Guerriero: Points in the paint have been an area of concern for this Buffaloes squad. The team is simply allowing too many easy baskets. While Colorado does do well in the paint itself, its inability to effectively contain big men has been a problem. I think Omogbo will do just fine in scoring his season average of 13.5 points per game. In every game minus the loss to Notre Dame, CU has outrebounded its opponent. A double-double for him is certainly in the ballpark.
CD: CSU head coach Larry Eustachy is known to play a gritty style of defense, leading to long possessions and low-scoring games. How do you feel the CU offense will handle that style of play?
JG: Colorado’s ball movement has been good this year, which is in part why there are four guys on the team averaging double digits in scoring. The offensive load has been pretty spread out this year. So we’ll see how it goes. The Buffaloes do have a bad turnover rate though at 12.7 per game, which is more than their competition’s collective average on the year. So if the Rams are able to get down and dirty in the defensive zone, it could spell trouble for Colorado.
CD: While it’s not the Rocky Mountain Showdown, it remains a big game for both programs and fan bases. What kind of atmosphere do you expect the Coors Event Center to have?
JG: After the Buffaloes pounded the Rams on the football field, and since the team has experienced so much success this year, I think a lot of people in Boulder are leaning on the old “CSU is the little brother to CU” routine. This matchup at Coors Events Center is a chance for the Buffs to further that thinking. Games against the Rams are always hyped up. I’m sure attendance will be pretty solid. Better hope the Buffaloes don’t win this one big, or I’m afraid that Colorado students will hold all rights to trash talking for the rest of the athletic season.
CD: Who are the impact players that CSU fans should keep an eye on?
JG: With the departure of Josh Scott, who graduated last Spring, the Buffaloes have had to find ways to replace his points and leadership. Four of the team’s starters currently average more than 10 points per game. Senior Xavier Johnson has been the Buffaloes’ best weapon thus far. He averages 15 points per game and in CU’s last game against Wofford scored 27. Also, senior guard Derrick White has been great for the team this year. He transferred from UCCS and has averaged 13.7 points per game this year for CU. He’s been Colorado’s most effective shooter, making 56.9 percent of his shots from the floor.
CD: Both teams are 5-1, but CU has faced some better competition. What have been the strengths of this Buffaloes squad thus far?
JG: The team has been great at making shots. As a whole, the Buffs are shooting 45 percent from the floor. Head coach Tad Boyle called his team “overrated” before the first game of the season. His main areas of concern are rebounding and perimeter defense. So far this year, the Buffaloes have looked good, but not great. Maturity is a big strength of this year’s team. The Buffaloes’ top five scorers are all upperclassmen and they’ve done a good job of grooming some of the younger guys to be able to assume a position of providing help now, as opposed to in a year or two.
CD: Your prediction. Are we in for a RMS repeat or a fight to the buzzer?
JG: It certainly won’t be a repeat of the RMS. The Rams always play hard against CU so I expect at least somewhat of a close matchup. I think the game will be close in the first half and little by little Colorado will start to inch away later in the game. I’m thinking 84-75 Buffaloes.
Collegian guest contributor Justin Guerriero can be reached by email at email@example.com