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CSU basketball vs Denver: preview from the sports editors

The CSU men’s basketball team is set to take on in-state rival Denver University at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in Moby Arena. The Rams (7-3) recently bounced back from the 67-62 loss to CU-Boulder with a 54-point rout of Southwestern Oklahoma State University, while the Pioneers’ two-game winning streak was snapped with a one-point overtime loss at Mercer University over the weekend. Collegian Sports Editor Quentin Sickafoose and DU Clarion Sports Editor Calvin Jouard have weighed in on what they expect out of Wednesday’s game.

  • CJ: As I see it, my Pioneers live and die by the three. For the most part this season, they’ve died, and it’s part of the reason they’ve opened the season 2-5. It’s opportune (and essential) for DU to have a breakout-game shooting the ball. It was their Achilles heel in CSU’s 60-53 victory last year, as DU shot went 5-29 from tre-land, something that will have to improve if they are to pull off the upset. As if there wasn’t already enough pressure to shoot the rock well, CSU likely won’t give them many extra possessions.

  • CJ: Just like last year, CSU has the size advantage. JJ Avila will probably have 40+ pounds on anyone DU puts on the floor. And because DU head coach Joe Scott’s system lacks the typical behemoth post presence, the 6’6” Udofia will likely draw the assignment of 6’9” Gerson Santo or the Marcus Holt ,6’10”. DU had trouble earlier in the year against Cal’s bigs, as Richard Solomon grabbed 16 total boards, compared to DU’s 20 team rebounds. The Rams outrebounded the Pioneers last year by a 47-33 margin, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we similar numbers posted tonight.

  • QS: Basketball is a game largely based on momentum, which currently is in favor of CSU. Despite it being against a Division II opponent, the Rams are fresh off of one of their best games in program history after putting up 109 points in the beat down of Southwestern Oklahoma State on Sunday. There’s also a good chance that the Pioneers may be a bit off-balance after suffering a tough one-point road loss to Mercer over the weekend.

  • QS: CSU definitely has potential to win this game, and they’ll do so by presenting a team effort. It may have taken a few games, but the Rams are finally presenting a balanced attack, which will allow them to win more basketball games. Instead of being forced to rely on just one or two players to carry the weight of the team, multiple players have been emerging as playmakers who can step up and fill the void. The best example was displayed in CSU’s most recent matchup in which it had six players in double digits for scoring.

However. . .

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  • CJ: DU’s star forward Chris Udofia has started to come on as of late, and became the school’s all-time blocked shots leader (211) with three blocks in the overtime loss to Mercer. At 6’6” he’s an undersized, deceptive shot blocker, but has a pterodactyl wing-span and a pretty good vertical to boot.

  • CJ: Everyone on the court at any one time for Denver has the ability to launch (and make) the three. CSU will have to get out and contest shots, which may open some passing lanes for Denver near the basket. This becomes a moot point, though, if DU has a cold shooting night.

  • CJ: DU does have big-game experience going into the matchup, having already played California, Stanford and Harvard.

  • QS: Denver has been going through some early-season struggles, and needs to turn its season around quickly to remain hopeful going into the latter part of the season. There’s a good chance that the Pioneers have that starting point in sights against the Rams. This game will be the Pioneer’s last one before returning home to Magness Arena for a stretch of home games, and it would be beneficial for them to have broken out of their road game-funk heading into some home court advantage.

  • QS: It’s an in-state rivalry, anything can happen. If history has taught us anything, it’s that records seem almost irrelevant when heading into high-stakes matchups with bragging rights on the line. CSU was taken down by Colorado on its own Moby Arena floor last week, so Denver has seen that it’s possible for them to do the same.

Either way, both CSU coach Larry Eustachy and DU coach Joe Scott will look angry the entire game regardless of who wins, so there’s always that.

Sports Editors Quentin Sickafoose and Calvin Jouard can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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