Colorado State Rams men’s basketball is back.

The Rams took on CSU-Pueblo and won 87-67 at Moby Arena on Saturday afternoon, an exhibition tune-up for their season, which officially tips off on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. MST.

We have all heard a ton about how the Rams will use an up-tempo offensive attack, and we saw some of that on Saturday, with the team getting more comfortable in transition as the game went on. But, how would they get back on defense after running so much?

At Media Day, I asked head coach Niko Medved about getting back in transition and defense, he said, “Primarily, I like to play man-to-man. For us, it’s about being connected, playing your tail off, helping each other, playing as a team on that end of the floor.”

That’s exactly what we saw on Saturday at Moby Arena; “Team Together” defense, all-out effort and defensive rebounding as a team. Dave Thorson led the Rams on that end, yelling instructions from the bench, and these Rams seemed better adapted at listening in the moment. Let’s look at the three biggest takeaways on the defensive end.

Anthony Masinton-Bonner was high-energy all game long. Bonner is a spark plug of this Rams team, and he certainly was a leader in terms of energy on the defensive end. Bonner used his speed and relentlessness to swipe at the basketball and record a team-high four steals in the game. And, that number could have been higher but he poked some basketballs out of bounds instead of grabbing them for the steal.

All told, Colorado State enjoyed 13 steals in the game and allowed only 35.7 percent shooting from the Thunderwolves thanks to that high energy.

Team rebounding was key. Yes, Nico Carvacho is a beast and will lead this Rams team in rebounding on both ends of the floor. And his 11 defensive rebounds were amazing — totaling 13 on the game — but it was a team effort on the defensive end on Saturday. CSU enjoyed 39 defensive rebounds and were able to turn a bunch of those into transition baskets on the other end.

“That’s more of an emphasis this year for sure,” Carvacho said after the game. “Just, punishing. Everybody box out their own guy. As long as everybody will box out, those long rebounds that I can’t get, somebody else is going to get.”

Transition defense was strong. The Rams did get out and ran on offense after getting warmed up in the first 10 or so minutes of the game, and when they didn’t score, they got back on defense well. Just as Medved said they would be demanded to do at Media Day.

On one get-back, Logan Ryan flew in to record a block, and on others many others, the Rams did well to contest shots even while getting back and put their hands straight in the air. That helped CSU affect the shots of the Thunderwolves, but not get called for fouls. CSU-Pueblo had a mere three points in transition in the game.

“I thought it picked up,” Medved said of his team’s defense. “Our ball pressure, our intensity. I thought for a stretch there, we were pretty good…Defense to offense is what we like to play…We’re going to have to be better for longer periods of time.”

Colorado State is now set to tip-off their regular season on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. MST as they host Colorado Christian.

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