Internal focus helps Colorado State’s outlook
by Matt L. Stephens, USA TODAY Sports
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Pierce Hornung, a forward on the Colorado State men’s basketball team, couldn’t always rest easy after he finished playing. There would be something else on his mind.
If Colorado State won or lost, it didn’t change the circumstance. Not knowing how the other Mountain West schools fared that night created stress.
By phone, Internet or TV, Hornung and his teammates would check scores from around the conference after each game to figure out where Colorado State was in the league standings.
It quickly became a distraction and led to the Rams’ downfall during Hornung’s sophomore season. They went from an NCAA tournament bubble team to losers of six of their final seven games, including being “one-and-done” in the Mountain West Conference tournament and NIT.
“We weren’t as strong as we would have liked,” he said. “Back then, we were … worrying about things we couldn’t control. After that, we tried to focus on the positive, what you have to accomplish to get ready for your game.
“We have the team now that we don’t look too much at what everyone else is doing, we just focus on ourselves.”
Having five senior starters helps the Rams focus on things other than out-of-town scoreboards. But they don’t need to be concerned with the league’s results, either. CSU controls its own destiny.
Defeating San Diego State on Feb. 13 placed the Rams (21-4, 8-2 Mountain West) alone in second place in the league, a half-game behind New Mexico, which turns this week into the season’s most important. The Rams are ranked 21st in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll, their highest mark in any national poll since they were 18th in the Associated Press poll twice in the 1953-54 season.
With a trip to UNLV (19-7, 6-5) Wednesday before hosting the No. 16 Lobos on Saturday, Colorado State is well aware what implications the next four days have for reaching its goal of a conference title.
“It’s great, because whatever we want from this season is in our hands” point guard Dorian Green said. “We can make this season out to be however we want … [For more on Internal focus helps Colorado State's outlook, click here.]