Santistevan: 5 takeaways from CSU women’s basketball’s “lost season”

Sergio Santistevan

Consistency in sports is rare, especially in college sports where players come and go every few years. This season, the Colorado State women’s basketball team experienced the biggest nightmare of inconsistencies in college sports: graduations and transfers.

Since Head Coach Ryun Williams arrived in 2012, CSU has turned into a perennial contender in the Mountain West.

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Williams is the winningest coach in program history. He holds the highest winning conference percentage and third-best winning percentage in Mountain West history. Unfortunately for Williams, five players decided to leave his program during the offseason, leaving his roster depleted.

For the first time since his first season at the helm, Williams’ squad finished with a losing record. Usually a consistent program, this season has been a disappointment for the Moby faithful.

With one game remaining before the Mountain West tournament, here are five takeaways from the season that the Moby faithful should take care not to forget.

1. CSU defense was stellar all season

A girl defends the ball against an Air Force player
Guard Sofie Tryggedsson defends the ball during the second period of the game against the Air Force Falcons Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. During the game at Moby Arena, CSU was able to create turnovers they then capitalized on, leaving them in the lead at the half. (Josh Schroeder | Collegian)

While the old saying “defense wins championships” doesn’t apply to this Rams squad, through the growing pains that ensued, one focal point remained stellar: the defense.

CSU allowed 60.9 points per game, but the most impressive statistic was the opposing teams’ field goal percentages against the Rams. CSU held opponents to an average of 36.7 percent from the field, which ranked first in the conference.

In the last home game of the season, against conference contender the University of New Mexico, CSU held the conference’s highest scoring team to two baskets and a whopping 16.7 shooting percentage in the third quarter.

This season, Myanne Hamm led all Rams, averaging 1.7 steals per game. Against Air Force, Hamm recorded a career-high eight steals, the ninth-most in a single game in program history. Listed as a redshirt senior, Hamm’s defensive skills will return to the Rams next season.

2. No offensive identity was ever found

woman shoots basketball
Lore Devos, of the women’s basketball team, goes for a shot with her opponent putting up a block. (Susie Heath | Collegian)

All the momentum gained on the defensive end often went unnoticed as CSU struggled to score baskets.

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After losing to the University of Wyoming Feb. 2, Williams acknowledged his team’s offensive woes.

“This group is just a struggle offensively,” he said. “They just have an inability to score the ball consistently throughout a basketball game …. Our inability to create consistent offense has put us in a bind all year.”

Williams said the team would continue to look for ways to find their offensive identity, but the finished product never came to fruition.

Even though the 3-point shooting increased in the final games, CSU’s offense remained stagnant. The team often found themselves in long-scoring droughts that put the win out of reach.

The lack of playmaking and shot-making resulted in the Rams averaging a little under 55 points per game. To put the Rams’ scoring woes into perspective, the next place team averaged 59.6 points.

3. The team MVP was Lore Devos

woman dribbles basketball
Colorado State Rams women’s basketball team lost to the Arizona State Sun Devils 70-30 Sunday afternoon. (Brooke Buchan | Collegian)

After losing five players to transfer, the true sophomore had to step up this season, and she delivered. Last season, Devos appeared in 29 games with 11 starts, averaging 7.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Now, being thrown into the starting lineup every game, Devos averaged 13.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

In certain situations, the Rams relied on Devos to end long scoring droughts. With a one-on-one situation, Devos is able to either drive or shoot over her opponent in order to get points on the board with her 44.2 shooting percentage.

Devos’ abilities on both ends of the court helped the Rams stay in a lot of games, and the sophomore is a sure-bet for a conference award at the end of the season.

4. The Rams played with heart

Players celebrate after a score
Lauren Brocke (22) and her teammates celebrate after Colorado State scores, tying the basketball game against Boise State at home. CSU fell in OT 72-63. (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

As cliché as it might sound, the Rams never gave up. Many teams would have thrown in the towel a long time ago, but the Rams never did.

It doesn’t take an expert to figure out that this team had limitations. Any casual fan watching this team could tell that they weren’t as talented as other teams. But in what was a season full of struggles, CSU never had the Moby Faithful questioning their effort.

After the Senior Day loss, Williams praised his team’s efforts.

“I think they’re fighting through their frustrations,” he said. “Whatever it takes. I’m sure they’ll give it.”

5. “The lost season” will pay dividends next year

Womens basketball player running with ball
Mollie Mounsey of CSU fights off several NAU players on her way down the court Dec. 5, 2018. (Alyse Oxenford | Collegian)

Yes, this season will end up as a forgettable one for CSU. Fans and coaches alike are likely already looking forward to next season, but they can take away a lot of positives from this season.

First, the development of younger players will be crucial going into next season. Devos took tremendous strides and has the potential to be one of the best players in the league next year due to the experience she gained this season. Devos can see her numbers skyrocket once the offense spreads out and can help her get into more one-on-one situations.

Nearly every player who saw significant playing time is returning, aside from Tatum Neubert. Going forward, players like Mollie Mounsey and Lena Svanholm will adjust now that they’ve seen plenty of minutes on the court. The Rams have a whole offseason to discover their offensive identity and further solidify their defense as one of the league’s best.

In addition, CSU’s offense has help on the way. Former Pac-12 All-Freshman Tori Williams will join the Rams from the University of Utah. She finished with the most 3-pointers on the team during her lone season with the Utes.

The coaching staff and players can use this season as motivation going forward. After being at the bottom of the conference, they know that’s a place they never want to return too.

Collegian Reporter Sergio Santistevan can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @TheRealsSergio.