Rams Sweep Regular-Season Mountain West Champs, Defeat Broncos 71-68
It was an emotional thriller in Moby Arena on Saturday night - and one that will surely live on in the memories of several Rams players alike.
Senior nights are always emotional, that's a given. However, the one at CSU tonight felt different.
A lot of that comes from Ram fans potentially saying goodbye to Kendle Moore and Adam Thistlewood - due to COVID, both could choose to come back for another season.
Moore and Thistlewood were the first two recruits under Niko Medved, both initially committing to Drake when Medved was the head coach there. With Medved sweeping into Fort Collins with his coaching staff and those two, we already knew something big was happening.
Moore and Thistlewood were the first true turn-of-the-tide for the new culture in the program, a culture that only got better with each incoming class, recruit, and transfer.
Tonight, as well as CSU's road win against Utah State last Saturday, we saw the same Kendle Moore that walked through the doors to Moby Arena as a freshman that was a lights-out shooter from day one. Moore has hit his stride in the perfect time of the season.
Beyond Moore and Thistlewood - two players I've watched and worked with since day one of their freshman year until now - the reaction given to Chandler Jacobs would have made you think he spent his entire collegiate career donning green and gold.
Quickly becoming a favorite - both for fans and the program - Jacobs was a crucial and vibrant addition to the roster. He's heard it for the last couple of weeks, and admittedly heard it from myself as well tonight, but not one person wouldn't beg anyone in the NCAA to let Jacobs play another year in Fort Collins.
Jacobs embodies everything you want in a teammate: attitude, perspective, grit, determination, and joy. It seems that, on and off the court, everything Jacobs did, he did with an infectious joy.
So, What's Next?
Though it was an emotional night - and one that rightly ended with loud "I'm proud to be a CSU Ram" chants and Kendle Moore being hoisted above the crowd - the season is far from over.
With tonight's hard-fought victory against the Broncos, CSU has clinched the #2 seed in the conference tournament, earning themselves a first round bye. They will play their first game of the tournament on Thursday, Mar. 10, and will face the winner of Wednesday's game between Utah State and Air Force.
After that, the NCAA Tournament. The Rams are heavily considered a lock for The Big Dance and fans will be heavily tuned in come Selection Sunday. This much I can say - whoever takes the court against the Rams, it's fair game.