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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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Column: Reflecting on the 2016-17 men’s basketball season

It was an exciting season to cover Colorado State men’s basketball to say the least.

From back-to-back home buzzer beaters, to stealing a road victory in Boulder, to an altercation between Emmanuel Omogbo and Terrence Rencher, there were hardly any dull moments.

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As a reporter, I’m extremely grateful that the 2016-2017 season was eventful. However, I’ve been an avid follower of NCAA basketball for as long as I can remember. So, I was ecstatic to be given the opportunity to cover a sport I’ve forever had a close eye on, regardless of how the season unfolded.

Working from the press row on the court, conducting postgame interviews, and attending practices to chat with players and coaches were major elements of the basketball reporting process that I enjoyed more and more as the season progressed.

I also had the luxury of traveling to Boulder, Laramie, and Las Vegas to witness pivotal moments of CSU’s season.

While it’s difficult to select which were the most memorable reporting experiences during the season, two immediately come to mind. The first was getting to interview the Rams after they pulled off a signature win over CU, a game in which Colorado State was listed as 15-point underdogs. The other moment involved talking to Omogbo and Gian Clavell before the second-seeded Rams headed to Vegas for the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

At the time of the basketball “Rocky Mountain Showdown” the Buffaloes were receiving votes to be ranked in the AP Top 25. Though the Rams were 5-1 heading into the anticipated rivalry, not many people outside of the CSU locker room had much faith in the Rams. 

J.D Paige (22) shushes the crowd after a dagger three in the 2nd half of the Rams 72-58 win over rival CU in Boulder. (Javon Harris | Collegian)

After the victory, Omogbo seemed far from surprised. The forward was essentially just saying “I told you so” to us reporters. Nico Carvacho, who had the game of his career, emphasized that this was the win that would put CSU on the map for legitimate contention in the 2016-2017 season.

The looks of confidence, inspiration, and pure belief that I saw in the eyes of the CSU players after that win is something I never will forget. Though the Rams lost four of their following six games after the CU win, I believe the motivation they gained from that game was a major contributor to their second place finish in the Mountain West.

Besides Nevada, Colorado State had the biggest target on its back going into the Mountain West Tournament. The Rams were the cinderella team of the conference last season. Picked to finish seventh in the Mountain West, CSU ended up earning the second seed in the Mountain West Tournament. Of course, teams were hungry to stop the Rams’ hot streak when it mattered most.

I had the chance to sit down and talk with Omogbo and Clavell, the stars of the underdog squad, before they departed for the Mountain West Tournament. While these young men could have been feeling an immense amount of pressure, they didn’t show it. In fact, they seemed relaxed, poised, and determined.

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With the fate of CSU’s season on Omogbo and Clavell’s backs, it was amazing to see these young men approach the situation with a high level of maturity. Instead of seeming nervous or uptight, the First Team All-Mountain West players spent most of the interaction with smiles on their faces. Omogbo and Clavell were dealing with the spotlight and pressure in the most ideal manner possible. It was amazing to get to witness that first-hand. 

Overall, being able to cover CSU basketball was an incredible experience. Since every season has a unique story and feel to it, I would love to be able to learn next season’s from the eyes of a reporter again.

Collegian sports reporter Eddie Herz can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or Twitter @Eddie_Herz.

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