Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009 | 1 a.m.
Ryan Greene and Rob Miech start from the beginning in dissecting UNLV's surprising 71-69 setback at Colorado State, including some interesting body language from the Rebels during pregame warmups. The guys talk about areas still needing improvement, plus look ahead to what is now a very intriguing home date with Wyoming on Saturday night.
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Colorado State basketball players Harvey Perry and Andre McFarland said UNLV never gave them serious consideration until other colleges started offering them scholarships.
That’s what made Wednesday night’s 71-69 victory over the Rebels at Moby Arena that much sweeter for the Las Vegas natives.
“That left a tight little knot there,” said Perry, a 6-foot-5 junior guard who graduated from Cheyenne High.
“Being a Vegas kid,” said McFarland, “it felt pretty good to get a win against them.”
The Rams had dropped their previous 19 regular-season games in the Mountain West Conference. To snap it against UNLV?
Priceless, said Perry and McFarland.
“They never gave me a look out of high school,” said Perry, 23. “They tried to offer when all the other schools offered. That’s still home, but I’m on the opposite team now.
“It’ll always be that little battle of the Rams and Rebels.”
Perry finished with seven rebounds and four points, on two-for-six shooting. One of those baskets was huge, as his 17-foot jumper on René Rougeau gave CSU a lead, at 39-38, it didn’t relinquish.
“They were a lot late, real late,” Perry said of the Rebels’ recruitment of him. “They hadn’t been showing me any love, so that was out of my mind.”
Cheyenne was Perry’s fourth high school. He went to Washington, transferred to the College of Southern Idaho and wound up at Colorado State.
Does he hold that against UNLV and use that as a boost when he plays the Rebels?
“Me being a local and the things I did my senior year,” Perry said, “I surely do.”
With 10 points, McFarland, 20, was one of five Rams to score double figures against UNLV.
The 6-6 sophomore forward scored five points during a seven-point stretch by the Rams in the second half, helping them maintain a 63-57 edge, when the Rebels threatened to get close.
He eased by Joe Darger for a layup, then sank three free throws after fouls by UNLV senior power forward Mo Rutledge.
McFarland spent plenty of time at UNLV in his youth.
“Growing up, I was always around there and at games,” he said. “Then they told me they don’t want me. I couldn’t put them back in my mind when they finally offered.”
McFarland said he met with fifth-year UNLV coach Lon Kruger two weeks before a tournament.
“He told me he’d look at me,” McFarland said. “Really, all I did is go out and work harder the very next day. I went back in the gym at Durango and started working harder on my game.”
Kruger, he said, offered him a scholarship after the tournament.
“Two weeks later, he said I was good enough,” McFarland said. “It hurt me.”
He committed to Southern California. When that didn’t work out, McFarland zipped to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.
Wednesday night, McFarland said he and his teammates used UNLV’s strengths against it.
“We want to run against teams that want to run against us,” he said. “Running teams don’t want to get back and cover things like that. We had to buy into it on defense for us to make plays on offense.
“They like to pressure hard. The offense we run is built for that. We take in the pressure on back cuts for easy layups, when they pressure the wings. Yeah, it was good.”
Told that UNLV expected Colorado State to play an abundance of zone defense, Perry bristled.
He and McFarland determined that the Rams played a 2-3 zone on only one possession, in the second half, all game.
“We don’t want to play zone,” Perry said. “We want to be a team that plays man-to-man and grinds. If teams expect us to play zone, then they have something else coming for them.”
For these two Rams, especially when that team is UNLV.