UW-Colorado State men’s hoops: 3 keys, notes, quotes and video

My three keys for Wyoming men’s basketball in tonight’s Border War versus Colorado State. Tip off is at 7 p.m. at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

1. Offense vs. Defense: Colorado State (19-3 overall, 6-3 MW) leads the league in scoring at 74 points per game. UW is fourth in the nation in scoring defense (53.9 ppg). The Cowboys got the better end in the first game, a 60-54 victory at Moby Arena on Jan. 7

Larry Shyatt

Larry Shyatt

as they held the Rams to 34 percent shooting and 2 of 14 from 3-point range. UW can’t get into a track meet in this game, yet will need to take advantage of some fast-break points when it can.

“You have to be alert and on edge every single possession,” UW coach Larry Shyatt said. “What we have to do better (tonight) is during those first eight to 10 seconds on defense. When they rebound that ball they fly it up the floor. They have enough outstanding offensive players they can insult you in transition.”

2. Play smart in the post: UW is undermanned inside as redshirt freshman forward Alan Herndon is out indefinitely with mononucleosis. Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. and Derek Cooke Jr. will have to shoulder the load inside, which they so for the most part anyway. However, Herndon averaged nearly 18 minutes per game in conference play so Nance and Cooke will have to play smart and avoid foul trouble, and Shyatt and staff will have a challenge in terms of managing those minutes. The Cowboys could go with a small lineup at times with only one post, but those times may be few and far between as Colorado State has four bigs who see time and can run the floor.

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UW-Colorado State men’s hoops Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Matt Stephens, who helps cover Colorado State men’s basketball for the Fort Collins Coloradoan, about Wednesday’s game with the University of Wyoming.

Tip off between the two teams is at 7 p.m. MT at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

Follow on Twitter: @MattStephens

The Rams are 19-3 and 6-3 in the league. As of late, what has this team been doing well?

Colorado State has done a much better job of having each player realize what he’s good at. If you look at Tiel Daniels, he’s starting to utilize more of his strength. In the loss to

Matt Stephens

Matt Stephens

Wyoming, there was a point in the first half where he had an easy dunk had he just gone up with the ball after catching it in the post. Instead, he puts it on the floor and has three guys surround him leading to a five-second violation.

Point guard John Gillon has continued to be a spark plug hitting big 3-pointers, Daniel Bejarano knows when to put on the gas and make big plays himself or pass the ball off, and J.J. Avila’s free-throw shooting is getting better. Colorado State’s success lately has been guys doing what they’re good at instead of trying to be players they’re not.


Two of the three conference losses have come on the road — against good teams like New Mexico and Boise State. What areas of the game did Colorado State struggle at in those losses, and in particular the 82-78 loss at Boise State on Jan. 27?

At New Mexico, it was just the offense in general, but at Boise State, the Rams got too comfortable. They got off to a poor start, overcame the deficit, then played most the game with a nice lead.

Queue Derrick Marks, the one Boise State player who killed them at Taco Bell Arena two seasons ago. He did it again by scoring 28 points Jan. 27. CSU let him do what he wanted on the floor and it killed any momentum the Rams had.

Scoring 78 points should be enough to win a college basketball game, but Colorado State’s defense had a rare breakdown. Of course, the late technical (regardless whether it was warranted or not) against coach Larry Eustachy played a big role in momentum, leading to a four-point possession for the Broncos. Colorado State lost that game by four points.

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UW-Colorado State men’s hoops Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a Q&A session with Matt Stephens, who covers Colorado State men’s basketball for the Fort Collins Coloradoan about Wednesday night’s Border War game with the University of Wyoming.

UW (13-2 overall, 2-0 Mountain West) and Colorado State (14-1, 1-1) tip off at 7 p.m. MT at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Follow on Twitter: @MattStephens

With nine transfers on the roster from other Division I schools or junior colleges, what has coach Larry Eustachy done to be able to take that mixture of talent and blend it into a team that is 14-1 and was nationally ranked as of last week?

I think it’s less about what he’s done since they got here and more a focus on the recruiting process, especially the help Eustachy receives from assistant coach Ross Hodge. Under Eustachy, and Tim Miles before him, Colorado State has done a good job – for the most part – finding talented basketball players who are high-character individuals.

There have been the run-ins with the law every few years, but they’ve always been isolated incidents. Eustachy has done a great job finding guys who have personalities that don’t clash with their teammates. This is a team that gets along pretty well.

Look at Daniel Bejarano. He’s a guy who two years ago told me he didn’t really have friends at CSU – not even his teammates he lived with – and cared more about his family in Phoenix than making new relationships in Fort Collins. Now he’s a leader on the court and off it, often hanging out with his teammates as just one of the guys.

It’s also helped that John Gillon, Tiel Daniels and Stanton Kidd sat out last season and were able to get to know their team pretty well during that year.


Who, in your mind, really makes this team click when things are going well or even lifts them up when things aren’t going well?

It has to be Gillon. Quite the unexpected star off the bench.

CSU doesn’t use a traditional point guard in its starting rotation and instead uses Bejarano in that role for the first few minutes, but when Gillon comes in, he’s explosive.

He’s generously listed at 6-foot (even Eustachy admits that’s quite a stretch), looks out of control at times, but always has a plan. He does one of two things when the ball is in his hand, shoot a deep 3-pointer (he’s 20 of 40 from the perimeter) or drive hard to the basket, only to draw a foul or dish it off late.

He didn’t want Jon Octeus to transfer, hoping to learn from him before taking over the point, but has blossomed nicely.

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UW-Colorado St. postgame thoughts/notes

It was not the best game that was played in the Arena-Auditorium as we know it, but it was exciting and for Wyoming as it beat Border War rival Colorado State 83-75 Saturday.

This was the last game in the current configuration of the A-A. Starting Monday it will receive a $30 million renovation.

A lot of streaks were broken with this victory. UW (18-13, 9-9) snapped a four-game losing streak and a four-game slide to the Rams (16-15, 7-11).

But more importantly, the Cowboys finished .500 in conference play for the first time since 2004-05. Coach Larry Shyatt talked a lot about that in his post-game news conference after the game and that he liked to silence those who doubted this team.

Here is what Shyatt had to say:

A San Diego State home win over New Mexico Saturday night will give UW a fourth or fifth-place finish and earn it a first-round bye a the MW Tournament next week in Las Vegas. Not a bad place to be for a team that lost its leader in junior forward Larry Nance Jr..

One has to wonder what could have been had Nance not suffered that season-ending knee injury on Feb. 18. Some wondered if UW would win another game without Nance.

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UW-Colorado St. men’s basketball Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Matt Stephens, who covers Colorado State men’s basketball for the Fort Collins Coloradan, about today’s game with the University of Wyoming at 4:05 p.m. at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colo.

Follow on Twitter: @MattStephens

At 14-13 overall and 5-9 in the conference, are you surprised the Rams are where they are at this point in the season?

As much as I’d like to join the masses and say yes, in all honesty, I can’t. This is a team that lost five seniors starters from last season, including a second-round NBA draft pick. We knew there was going to be a significant drop off. Only Daniel Bejarano and Jon Octeus played significant minutes for this team last year.

There are a few games, however, that I am a little surprised CSU has lost, like at home to Utah State and at Nevada, but overall, this is about how I thought the Rams’ would perform.

What’s caught me off guard more this season is how other mid-level teams in the Mountain West are playing. Fresno State has seemed to find its identity. Wyoming has come a long way and Utah State is transitioning fairly well from the Western Athletic Conference. Those teams have really magnified CSU falling to the bottom of the standings.

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