David Roddy gritted his teeth while addressing the media after Colorado State University’s 75-63 loss to Michigan in Thursday’s first game of the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
It is the same scowl Roddy gets on the court after he misses a free throw. Or when a shot doesn’t fall as he’s trying to get a three-point play. Or when he picks up a foul.
It’s a look he and his Rams teammates wore all too often after a spectacular first 15 minutes on the Gainbridge Fieldhouse court during which they built a 28-13 lead. The Wolverines (18-14) outscored the Rams 62-35 after that and advanced to play Tennessee on Saturday.
“I would just say credit to Michigan,” said Roddy, an AP All-American honorable mention selection who had 13 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal. “I think we needed to trust the offense a little bit more.”
Roddy finished 1 of 6 from the arc and missed two free throws, both anomalies given his season averages.
“We were trying to make huge plays every single possession, getting quick shots, as well,” Roddy said. “But when we are at our best, we are using most of the shot clock and a mixture of quick shots.”
15 minutes when the shots went down
Roddy fouled out of the game in the final minute. He slowly walked to the CSU bench, embracing Medved before taking his spot on the bench. Asked in the postgame press conference when his attention turned to the 2022-23 season, he grimaced again and answered.
“Immediately, when that buzzer sounds,” Roddy said. “You know, you just embrace the moment, and you know, accept the loss. Michigan, again, is Michigan. They are an amazing program and you know, we strive to be a team like that.”
The No. 6-seeded Rams (25-6) were considered the underdogs according to betting lines. They had a longer and rougher journey than Michigan, which bused to the arena where they played in last week’s Big Ten Tournament.
But during the first 15 minutes, a national TV audience saw the Rams make those spectacular plays. Dischon Thomas made three 3-pointers, Isaiah Stevens drained two and Roddy added one. Thomas finished with a team-high 15 points while Kendle Moore added 10 and Stevens had 8.
“Sometimes it’s a great thing when shots go down,” Medved said, “we had so many shots go down early. Sometimes that can be a curse where we maybe were settling a little bit too much.
“You know, we have been good in the paint all year, and we obviously were not able to do that. I don’t think we responded great when Michigan really turned up their pressure in the second half.
“I thought the game was in the balance and we had our chances tonight, and you know, give a lot of credit to Michigan. They were the better team, clearly, in the second half.”
Michigan had balanced scoring
Michigan’s 7-foot-1 center Hunter Dickinson was every bit the matchup problem that was expected. He scored 21 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and had 4 turnovers but also 4 blocks.
Those blocks contributed to CSU shooting just 23 of 65 from the field for 35.4%. And Michigan, which missed all 7 treys in the first half, hit 4 of 7 in the second half.
“We missed a lot of shots in the paint. Some of that is their length, there is no question. Some of that is rushing,” Medved said. “When you play high-level teams and you miss a shot in the rack zone and the other team gets the rebound, they are going to hurt you in transition. Those were huge plays. There were a lot of swings that way where we didn’t deliver and they came back and did it.”
The biggest two deep shots were from freshman Caleb Houstan, whose back-to-back 3-pointers gave Michigan the lead for good during an 8-0 run that put the Wolverines ahead 53-49 with 9:49 left.
Eli Brooks scored 16 points, Frankie Collins had 14 and Houstan added 13 points. The Wolverines made 15 of 25 field goals in the second half and finished 19 of 22 at the line – many coming during CSU’s late-game desperation.
“You know, today, it’s a tough day to lose,” Medved said. “Obviously the finality of things here at the end of the season, and it’s finally over. Disappointed.”
Another step for the program
Michigan coach Juwan Howard credited CSU for putting the Wolverines on their heels.
“First give credit to Colorado State, their staff and players,” Howard said. “Obviously, they have shown throughout the game that they deserve to be here, how they came out and competed from start to finish.”
After going 12-20 in Medved’s first season, CSU upped its winning percentage each year. The Rams sold out Moby Arena five times, finished the regular season in second place by only one game in the Mountain West and got to the postseason tourney semifinals in a four-bid conference.
“I think when the dust settles for these guys, and they don’t want to hear it right now, but it’s been an incredible season,” Medved said. “The work that these guys have put in to come in here and believe in us and believe in what we’re doing; and to battle back after the disappointment of last year, being one of the first teams left out of this tournament, come back, have an incredible season, earn the highest seed in the history of the school, I think it’s just awesome stuff.”
Thomas saved one of his best games for the Rams’ first NCAA Tourney contest since 2013: “Although I wish the outcome was different, it was a great experience and a great season.”
Medved said Roddy has earned the right to test the NBA waters if he wants to, but the Rams’ junior leader didn’t sound like he had anything on his mind but a senior college season.
“I can’t wait ’til the off-season and we’re getting back together and trying to do this again,” Roddy said. “You know, just getting that experience and understanding how hard you have to play in 40 minutes because that’s the only thing that you’re guaranteed when you get selected.
“I think that’s the biggest mission of mine and this team is just to figure out how we can get back here and how we can have more success.”
More coverage of Rams basketball
- The Dish: Disappointment immediately turns to Inspiration
- Game coverage: CSU falls to Michigan in NCAA First Round
- WNIT: Women’s basketball team ready for postseason