Takeaways from the Rams’ opening night rout of Colorado Christian

Luke Zahlmann

The era of Coach Niko Medved began victoriously as the Colorado State Rams bested Colorado Christian University in the team’s opener by a wide 100-66 margin. 

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A lopsided tally began early, with the Rams running out to a 26-3 lead on a pair of 6-0 and 20-0 streaks to begin the contest. The team put up a higher scoring total than any game last season, besting their high of 90 against San Jose State University. 

The runs aside, here’s a trio of takeaways from the Rams’ first contest of the year.

The energy was back on the floor

Last season, whatever was left of Moby Madness faded as the year came to a close. Under the tutelage of an interim staff after the firing of Larry Eustachy, the Rams lost their final five games, including a first-round Mountain West tournament exit.

Player shoots
Lorenzo Jenkins pushes through traffic and shoots during the Rams game against the Cougars. Rams win 100-63 (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

Not only did the Rams jump out to a double-digit lead in a mere seven minutes of game time, but the energy was also different. Multiple players including redshirt junior Nico Carvacho and freshman Kendle Moore hit the floor for loose balls, an anomaly for much of last year.

The hustle showed in the box score as well as the Rams accrued four steals in just the first half, with a 26-14 rebounding advantage to boot.

“Everyday in practice we talk about being consistent,” Moore said. “Coach Niko (Medved) makes sure whenever there’s a loose ball, we’re the first team on the floor .”

In the final box score, the Rams had totaled five steals in the game, a 49-25 rebounding edge and forced eight turnovers.

Spotlight fails to shock the youngsters

Once committed to Drake University, the aforementioned Moore followed Medved to Fort Collins. The move is already paying off for the youngster. 

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Player celebrates
Kendle Moore (3) pumps the crowd up and celebrates after making a big play for CSU. The Rams defeated the Cougars 100-63.(Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

In the first half alone, Moore racked up 13 points and a trio of assists, with only a single turnover. Chosen to facilitate the Rams’ attack, Moore brought an energy that was missing at times from the point guard position last year. The guard finished with a team-high 26 points on 9-11 from the field. 

“I can’t stop smiling for (Kendle),” redshirt junior Anthony Masinton-Bonner said. “He’s put the work in and like I said, we all have a lot of confidence in him.”

On the outside, fellow former Drake commit and freshman Adam Thistlewood showed progress as well. The stretch forward went 2-5 from outside, totaling 10 points in the contest. The tally may have been higher had the youngster not headed to the locker room after a blow to the head with just under seven minutes left in the first.

Both freshmen played big minutes as well, with Moore leading the way with 32, Thistlewood with 26.

Those who chose to return paid dividends

After the turmoil last year, several Rams’ players looked at the possibility of transferring. Two of the returners were Carvacho and Masinton-Bonner. Medved is already seeing their impact.

“Nico plays hard,” Medved said. “He plays hard every day in practice, he’s a competitor, he’s got fire, I love that. He plays with his hair on fire on defense and rebounding.”

In the game, the two combined for 36 points and 20 boards, with the Masinton-Bonner leading the scoring outage by 22. Not to be outdone, Carvacho registered a first-half double-double, finishing with 14 points and 15 boards.

The offense also featured more ball movement with the departure of former Ram Prentiss Nixon.

Another possible transfer, redshirt senior Robbie Berwick, made an impact as well, finding multiple cutting Rams en route to easy layups. The vision for the game was exemplified when he couldn’t even see who he was passing to. 

The Rams will head into the weekend with a 1-0 record to take on the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in a Saturday matinee matchup. The game tips off at 2 p.m. local time.

Luke Zahlmann can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @lukezahlmann.