This archived article was written by: The Eagle
No program in junior college basketball knows how to win more than the College of Southern Idaho. In fact, no one has come close. In its 41-year history, the CSI men’s basketball program has recorded 1,158 wins and just 217 losses, good enough for an .842 winning percentage. The Golden Eagles have made the trip back to the national tournament 23 times, bringing home the national title twice and hardware 13 times. That rich history keeps the CSI gymnasium packed to capacity most nights and creates an atmosphere unmatched in JUCO basketball, reads CSI’s home page.
So when CSI left the College of Eastern Utah’s gym Saturday night suffering an incredible 16-point loss, they had to be in shock. Was it a David and Goliath or a Cinderella story? No, it was that CEU’s mens’ team simply was the better team that night. They out rebounded, out scored, out shot the men from CSI and left their mark in the sports history book this decade.
CSI had literally demolished Colorado Northwestern Community College 90-52 the prior night, while CEU struggled against North Idaho College Friday night dropping its game 71-61.
Saturday’s score see-sawed back and forth the first few minutes of the game when CEU finally broke into the lead. They were ahead at half and never looked back.
“It was great for us to bounce back and beat CSI on Saturday. For a long time they have been the standard for excellence in the SWAC, but in my opinion those times are changing. Our league is the toughest it has been in a long time with five teams capable of winning the league this year,” Coach Chris Craig said.
“All of the guys on the team get the credit for the CSI victory. They put Friday night’s game behind them and rallied together to win the game when our backs were against the wall. They showed a lot of toughness and resiliency. But they also have to understand that it was one game, and as of now our record is 1-1. What we did in the preseason does not matter anymore. It is all about putting ourselves in the best position to win this league and go to the national tournament.
“We really guarded them in the second half. In the first half, because of our offensive success, we lost sight of our identity as a team, but in the second half, we restored that identity and really got after them on the defensive end of the floor.
“Isiah Williams gave us a huge lift when Mike went out with his second foul early in the first half. He came in and run the team and took his opportunities to attack when they came. Look for Isiah to continue to get better and better as the year goes on if he keeps getting better on the defensive end like he has.
“Darington really stepped up defensively as well on Saturday after being nonexistent on that end of the floor Friday night. He is our leader and when his effort and intensity is great, most of the time the teams’ is as well.”
“Russo (DeFavari) gave us great minutes in both games last weekend and was one of the few players who wasn’t scared of North Idaho,” he said.
Coach Craig was impressed with the turnout at the BDAC last weekend for both games. “We thank the commuinty and the staff and the student body who came out and supported us and encourage everyone to come to our games that remain at home and even on the road if they want to travel.” I apologize for our team’s performance on Friday night. I can’t promise that we won’t lose again, but we won’t have a lackluster performance like we did on Friday night.”
In the men’s basketball history at CEU, the most wins came under a young, unproven coach, Ronnie Stubbs in the 1980s and ’90s, whose teams beat CSI three times in 10 years. “We beat them by one, three and five points. We never beat them at Twin Falls,” Stubbs said. “I am so glad Coach [Chris] Craig is doing well, it is really an accomplishment to have CEU win big against that program. CEU has a winning tradition in basketball and I am glad to see it continue. I wish him the best.” Stubbs’ teams won 20 games each season and finished at the top two or three in the conference regularly. He brought in several All-American players and packed the BDAC each weekend.
Coach Stubbs’ assistant, Guy Beach, won the conference his second year at CEU and beat CSI three times: ’96-’97 79-76, 53-46,64-55, including a CSI road victory. That year he went 28-5 overall. Beach went on to coach CSI for a couple of seasons and lost to CEU once while at the helm of the Twin Falls’ school.
Before Beach and Stubbs, Coach Curt Jensen coached the CEU Eagles 21 years. In his tenure, he beat CSI three times, ’67-’68 56-45; ’77-’78 57-54; and ’79-’80 82-67.
Coach Klingler replaced Beach for a half season and lost to CSI.
Nine-year head coach Bryan Zollinger had three victories over CSI: ’98-’99 86-73; ’01-’02 94-89; ’03-’04 80-62. His last victory of 18 points is the most ever for a CEU team against CSI.