Dorian Green’s voice barely rose above a whisper in the press conference following CSU’s 91-82 loss to No. 16 New Mexico Saturday.
His usually confident, full delivery occasionally faltered as he tried to come to terms with and explain what had just happened.
As he spoke, a single tear formed in the corner of his left eye closest to his nose.
It trickled down his face as the press conference came to a close and that said more than his words could.
This one hurt. It meant more to this team than the three players sitting in front of the assembled media allowed themselves to say.
They took pride in winning 27 consecutive home games, and losing in an environment like Moby on Saturday shocked their systems a little bit.
It’s understandable. When you expect one outcome for 461 days and 27 games, the opposite can be jarring.
The last time CSU lost a home game, current coach Larry Eustachy sat on the opposite bench.
Peyton Manning still played for the Indianapolis Colts and was recovering from neck surgery.
Katy Perry and Russell Brand were still more than a month away from divorce filings.
Of CSU’s 27 straight wins, 16 were by at least ten points.
Only one game came down to the final possession, a 65-64 thriller over CU-Boulder on November 30, 2011.
Moby held its collective breath as Buffs guard Nate Tomlinson’s last second three point attempt sailed through the air and fell harmlessly to the hardwood.
More than anything, the streak became a symbol of CSU’s basketball renaissance in recent seasons.
Moby became a full-fledged fortress for the Rams rather than a holiday road trip for Mountain West opponents.
Only 2,275 people witnessed CSU’s last loss against Southern Miss.
A full throated 8,745 were in attendance Saturday, CSU’s third consecutive sellout and fourth during the streak.
You used to be able to stroll up to the gates and grab a ticket 10 or 15 minutes before game time and get a decent seat.
Now to get that same spot you need to pick up a ticket days in advance, likely waiting in line with a legion of other fans, and get to the arena potentially an hour early and wait outside, practically fighting for real estate in the arena.
That desperation, that dedication from the fans has created a home environment that they and the players can be proud of.
Both Eustachy and his players have regularly talked about the importance of the fan support, and in particular the student support, to getting where they are today.
But on Saturday, Eustachy felt like his team didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.
“I feel bad, and I apologized to our fans and our students, because we had the kind of atmosphere that we have been talking about tonight,” he said. “I feel like we let them down. I feel like I let them down. I promise we’ll do better.”
I’m certain he and his team will follow through on that promise.
Coming off two of the most gut-wrenching losses of the season, there’s no doubt this team is hurting, but Eustachy has preached the mantra of “don’t get too high, don’t get too low.”
They want to get back in the gym, get back on the practice floor and get back into another game to move on and get back to the physical, punishing brand of basketball that has defined the Rams this season.
New Mexico out-toughed CSU in Moby on Saturday. It’s not likely that will happen again.
Yes, the 27 game winning streak is over, but the Rams can start another one Wednesday.
I almost feel sorry for Fresno State.