3 takeaways following CSU’s exhibition victory over CSU-Pueblo

Eddie Herz

The Colorado State Rams earned an exhibition victory over the visiting CSU-Pueblo Thunderwolves on Nov. 3 by a score of 87-67 to unofficially begin the 2018-19 season.

Freshmen guard Kendle Moore and forward Adam Thistlewood led the Rams in scoring to begin their collegiate careers.

Ad

Moore finished with 19 points on an efficient 7-9 shooting from the floor. Thistlewood added 16 points and also grabbed seven rebounds.

The Thunderwolves made things interesting early on before the Rams dominated their Division II opponent in the second half.

CSU-Pueblo led for the majority of the first half, but CSU managed to build a seven-point advantage before heading to the locker room. The Rams constructed a key 12-0 run which gave them their first double-digit lead of the afternoon with under three minutes remaining in the opening half.

CSU played in a far more cohesive manner in the second half. The Rams instantaneously constructed a comfortable lead that was never surrendered. CSU increased its lead to 17 points with 15 minutes remaining in the game.

Overall, the Rams shot 48 percent from the floor and outrebounded CSU-Pueblo 49-34. Defensively, CSU held its opponent to 36 percent shooting from the floor.

Efficient three-point shooting allowed the Thunderwolves to compete longer than anticipated. CSU-Pueblo shot 35 percent from three. Turnovers inhibited the Rams from building a large lead early as well. CSU combined for 16 turnovers in the game.

Here are the three takeaways from CSU’s 20-point exhibition victory:

Kendle Moore will be a significant contributor.

Obviously, games that don’t affect either the win or loss column have to be taken with a grain of salt. This is even more of the case when facing a DII opponent, as the Rams just did.

Regardless, freshman guard Kendle Moore demonstrated how he can immediately provide a spark for CSU.

Moore made his presence known in a variety of ways and by far was the best player on the court. Moore made the most of his shot attempts and was the game’s leading scorer.

Ad

Though Moore was the only player on the floor for more than 30 minutes, fatigue never seemed to be an issue for Moore.

The 5’10 guard possesses tremendous speed and truly has a knack for finding the bucket.

Within Moore’s energetic performance, the guard accumulated five rebounds, three assists, and a steal as well.

Size may become an issue when going up against DI competition. However, the guard’s quickness will help compensate for his small frame down the stretch. Moore has also made it apparent that he is attempting to put on some weight.

This is something that will bode well for the guard in terms of trying to find ways to score down low.

Moore started against CSU-Pueblo and proved that he deserved to. He may not initially be starting many games for the Rams, but expect Moore to sneak his way into CSU’s starting five as the season progresses if he continues to play like he did on Saturday.

This could happen sooner rather than later considering Oral Roberts transfer Kris Martin has been suspended for the Rams’ first five regular-season games. Moore now holds the advantage of being able to get into a rhythm before Martin.

Adam Thistlewood’s rebounding vital to CSU’s success.

In addition to announcing Martin’s suspension after the exhibition game, head coach Niko Medved also mentioned senior forward Deion James will redshirt the 2018-19 season.

James underwent knee surgery during the offseason. Medved and James both believe James should sit out the season.

More so than James’ scoring capabilities, his rebounding will be missed. This is simply because CSU has plenty of players who can score, but not many who can be relied on in the rebounding department.

James is CSU’s second-leading returning rebounder from last season behind Nico Carvacho. The forward averaged 5.3 rebounds per game and totalled at least eight rebounds in nine games.

Even if Carvacho provides double-digit rebounds each game, CSU will need more if it wants to frequently hold a rebounding advantage over its opponents.

This is where Thistlewood comes in. It may be difficult for the freshman to consistently rebound effectively considering it will take him a while to adjust both physically and mentally to the collegiate level.

However, the 6’6″ forward collected seven rebounds against CSU-Pueblo. Three of which also came offensively, creating second-chance opportunities for the Rams.

Without James in the picture, Medved will need similar performances from Thistlewood more often than not. Besides forward Zo Tyson, there really isn’t anyone on the Rams’ roster who is capable of doing so.

A glimpse at Carvacho’s expanded game wasn’t pretty.

Carvacho took it upon himself in the later stages of the 2017-’18 season, and especially during the offseason, to develop his outside shot.

Successfully doing so would evidently make the redshirt junior a more versatile, dynamic player.

Carvacho put his efforts to the test against the Thunderwolves on Saturday. There were a few occurrences in which the forward attempted a jumper instead of putting the ball on the floor and finding the rim.

Carvacho converted only 4-11 shot attempts though, and looked noticeably frustrated at times against CSU-Pueblo.

It is clear that Carvacho still has some work to do in terms of his shooting. Although, the unideal performance on Saturday isn’t something to worry about very much.

The sole purpose of exhibition games is for players to be able to work out kinks and shake off rust acquired from not playing a real game in around eight months.

The fact that Carvacho got this out of the way now, rather than in a game that counts, is good for the forward.

Eddie Herz can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz.