Isaiah Stevens was not about to let David Roddy be his usual unassuming self, so he jumped in as Roddy’s “modesty translator” after the 83-68 win at New Mexico on Feb. 17. It is just another role Stevens fills for the 23-4 Rams, who seem all but destined for the NCAA tournament.
CSU has not made the NCAA men’s basketball tourney since 2013 and has not advanced past the second game since 1969 when the Rams made it to the Elite 8. If CSU wins the Mountain West conference tournament, they will get the automatic bid. If not, they will find out March 13 if they will be invited.
Stevens, CSU’s 6-foot point guard, had just had a fine game himself against the Lobos – 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, 7 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals. But when a question was thrown to Roddy about the CSU big man’s domination – 31 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists – Stevens intercepted it.
“Yes, we wanted to exploit a matchup for David Roddy and obviously it worked to our advantage,” Stevens said as Roddy smiled and shook his head in a video posted by The Coloradoan. “So, I know he (was) about to give a nice, humble answer, and I love that about him. But we saw something that we could exploit, and we definitely kept going to that.”
Social media posters likened Stevens’ truth-telling to that of Luther, President Obama’s anger translator from the Key & Peele TV show on Comedy Central.
“He has (an ego). He has it,” Stevens said of his teammate, roommate and fellow junior. “But like I said, Roddy is a great person. (He’s) definitely going to take the high road more times than not, and he knows how to articulate himself in the right situations.
“And I just … after the game he had, man, I knew what he was trying to say, so if he wasn’t going to say it, I’ll say it for him and everybody can come at me if that’s the case.”
‘It’s not a one-man sport’
Roddy said Stevens is a funny, outgoing guy.
“He loves conversation and he laughs more than anyone I know,” Roddy said. “We play video games, hang out, watch college basketball games. Isaiah is such a student of the game. He loves watching old basketball, new basketball. … he loves watching film as well.”
Stevens also finds time for schoolwork. He said he has a 3.5 GPA while majoring in communication studies and minoring in sociology.
“The biggest thing for me was to get my degree,” Stevens said. “My parents are big on that, and so, not only do I want to get it for myself, but just it’s almost like a tribute to them that all the sacrifices they made for me to get to this point weren’t in vain or anything like that.”
When the tables are turned and Stevens is asked about an impressive season that saw him reach the final 10 for the Bob Cousy award for the nation’s best point guard, Stevens takes some credit before pivoting to a humble Roddy-like impression.
“I think it’s just a tribute to how much work I’ve put in with all my coaches,” said Stevens, who averages just shy of 15 points and 5 assists plus 3.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals. Stevens is among the NCAA’s national leaders at nearly 90 percent from the free throw line. “It’s a credit to my teammates because I wouldn’t be in this position without them. Because it’s not a one-man job, and it’s not a one-man sport.”
An ‘organic intro’ for Stevens and Roddy
Stevens’ name was not on the list of five finalists for the Cousy Point Guard Award. Roddy did not make the final five for the Karl Malone Power Forward Award, but was in the top 10. Not bad for a pair of non-5-star recruits.
“The first time I heard of David was when they started recruiting me,” Stevens said. “They were talking about potentially playing with another high-level guy out of Minnesota.
“We had never crossed paths. I had never seen him on social media or anything like that. So, it was a pretty organic introduction to him, which was pretty cool.”
CSU coach Niko Medved said Stevens signed with the Rams first. Roddy chose basketball over football and then picked the Rams.
“And right away, those two had a connection immediately as they were both high-level competitors, great human beings,” Medved said the day after CSU topped Wyoming 61-55 in front of the fourth of five Moby Arena sellouts this season. “They are both driven to be great.”
Stevens said the coaching staff wanted the pair to get to know each other as freshmen.
“We clicked right away,” Stevens said. “We were roommates, so it kind of sped that process up. We didn’t pick each other; I think they kind of picked it for us in a way – just see how that would work.”
Two possible first-team all-conference picks
“After the game he had, man, I knew what he was trying to say, so if he wasn’t going to say it, I’ll say it for him and everybody can come at me if that’s the case.”
—Isaiah Stevens, on the 31-point game David Roddy had against New Mexico
Opposing coaches mention the chemistry between Stevens and Roddy on the court. It shows up when Roddy uses his quarterback arm to fire a pass to his roommate in the lane.
Or, when Stevens finds Roddy in his favorite spots – like when Roddy hit a 3-pointer just before halftime in what became a 61-55 Border War win against Wyoming. Or, when Roddy went for 31 points and Stevens had 7 assists in an 83-68 win against New Mexico.
“They’ve been playing with each other a lot,” New Mexico coach Richard Pitino said. “Roddy and Stevens, I think, are two first-team all-conference players.”
With one game left before the Mountain West Conference postseason tournament and hopeful eye on Selection Sunday, it seems like everything has worked out well. Roddy and Stevens each have topped 1,000 career points.
“What I’ve found,” Medved said, “is typically great players and people and competitors, they like to be around like-minded people.”