WBB Preview: Utah State Returns Home After Win To Host Colorado State
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WBB Preview: Utah State Returns Home After Win To Host Colorado State

Utah State WBB hosts Colorado State today, trying to build off its tight win at San Jose State during the week. WBB Preview:
WBB Preview: Utah State Returns Home After Win To Host Colorado State

The Dee Glen Smith Spectrum has played host to some of the world’s finest student-athletes. Those who have competed on that court have gone on to play and coach at the highest levels of the sport in the United States and abroad. Both the NBA and WNBA are crowded with former frequenters of the Spectrum. Of course, not all of the players who have left their mark in the building were enrolled in classes at Utah State University. Visitors from all over the county have traveled to the Spectrum – sometimes successfully, but mostly unsuccessfully – looking for victory. Some of those visitors have added important chapters to the Spectrum’s rich legacy.

Among them, without a doubt, is Colorado State point guard McKenna Hofschild. She'll do so for the final time on Saturday when she leads her Rams into Logan.

Hofschild, a highly decorated senior, is the guiding engine behind head coach Ryun Williams' team. But, after dominating their non-conference schedule, the Rams faltered a bit since getting to league play. Colorado State cut through its opening slate with ease, starting the season with an 8-0 and amassing a record of 9-2 before opening Mountain West play, where the Rams hold an even 7-7 record. A few tough asks resulting in a trio of back-to-back losses haven’t helped Colorado State’s cause.

Colorado State is 16-9 (7-7) and is looking for a win to help with seeding purposes at the fast-approaching Mountain West Tournament. Utah State is 5-21 (2-13) and is looking for a win to help avoid another last-place finish.

Players To Know

McKenna Hofschild: For her final trip to Logan, Hofschild will have more luggage than she did last time. Since her last trip to the Spectrum, a 99-62 win with 17 points and six assists, she has collected more than a few accolades. This time, she is the reigning Mountain West Player of the Year, the all-time Mountain West assist leader, and the proud owner of more than 2,000 career points.

Known primarily for her passing abilities and the accompanying accolades, Hofschild isn’t just a record-breaking distributor – she is a superstar in all facets of the game. She's inarguably one of the most impressive two-way players in the league, and could be one of the best in the conference’s 25-year history.

Hofschild spent one year at Seton Hall, a mostly uneventful pursuit without much success. She didn’t start a single game and averaged just over eight minutes a contest, jumping to CSU after one season. She saw immediate and immense success at Colorado State, starting every game she has played and becoming an instant contributor.

On Jan. 20, Hofschild dished out six assists in a win over Wyoming, giving her 692 assists and the Mountain West record. A little over two weeks later on Feb. 7, in a 16-point performance to beat Fresno State, Hofschild eclipsed the 2,000-point mark, joining current CSU MBB star Isaiah Stevens and the legendary Becky Hammon as Rams with 2,000 career points.

It never seemed like she was holding back in her first three years with the Rams, but in her swan song, Hofschild is putting up the best numbers of her career. Hofschild averages 23.0 points, 7.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game, leading Colorado State in points, assists, and steals. At this point for Hofschild, that's lightweight stuff.

She also comfortably leads the conference in both points and assists, topping Desi-Rae Young of UNLV and her 19.1 points per game, and clearing Kiara Jackson, also of UNLV, and her 4.8 assists. In the nation, Hofschild is the sixth-highest scorer, while her 7.5 assists per game ties her with Virginia Tech’s Georgia Amoore for second only to Caitlin Clark of Iowa.

Hofschild struggled to score in her last game against rival Wyoming, finishing as the only starter held under double digits with just nine points. It was a rare occurrence for her to score such a low figure, as it tied her season-worst, and it isn’t likely to repeat itself. She's scored more than 30 points five times, more than double the two instances she has scored fewer than 10.

Of course, scoring is only one part of Hofschild’s complex game, and even as she had a hard time doing so, going 2 of 11 in her last game, she still recorded 13 assists and two steals, playing an integral part in a Ram victory over the Pokes.

Sydney Mech: Although Hofschild takes most of the spotlight, she has a solid team around her, starting with Sydney Mech, a fifth-year graduate student out of Englewood, Colo. Behind Hofschild, she is the second-leading scorer on this team and has been a dependable presence in Fort Collins for a long time. She is in her fourth year with Colorado State after starting her career at Denver.

Mech has put together a robust and very steady career for the Rams. She’s averaging 8.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 1.4 blocks per game this season, right around her career averages.

Her ability to block shots, almost 1.5 of them a night, sets her apart on this team. She leads the team in blocked shots and is a vital piece of Williams' stingy defense.

But, she’s having an offensive explosion of late. Against Wyoming, she had 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field and 3 of 6 from behind the arc. She's been very deliberate in her scoring attempts lately, becoming a beacon of efficiency. In her last two games, she was a combined 10 of 15 from the field and 5 of 8 from behind the arc.

Hannah Ronsiek: Another threatening Ram who has potentially been overlooked is the sophomore from Sioux Falls. She's been with Colorado State for her entire career, and when she signed, Williams described his recruit as "a very competitive player with a high basketball IQ and a nice skill set."

It’s worked out pretty well for the competitive player with a high basketball IQ. The 5-11 guard is the team’s leading rebounder and is second in both steals and blocks. She can play just about any position Colorado State needs her to fill, and while rebounding is her specialty, Ronsiek can do just about anything. She's averaging 8.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks per game.

She's coming off a double-double, her first of the season, against Wyoming. She recorded 15 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and a steal in that bout, shooting 6 of 8 from the field.

Stats To Know

Assist To Turnover Ratio: As one would imagine, a team headed by the incomparable McKenna Holfchild boasts an impressive assist-to-turnover ratio, but digging into the numbers beyond her individual performance reveals an immense team accomplishment.

Including Hofschild, the Rams have five players that average at least an assist a game. The team averages 14.3 dimes per game and has an assisted shot rate of 56.5 percent. While the Rams do get many assists, that isn’t the most striking part of the equation. They also commit the fewest turnovers in the nation, giving the ball away only 9.3 times a game for a turnover rate of 12.7 percent. Utah State, meanwhile, gives the ball away 19.1 times a game for a turnover rate of 24.1 percent.

Three-Point Shooting %: Passing the ball is only step one of what the Rams do on offense. Step two is simple, but not easy: Put the ball in the hoop. The way they score is very impressive.

The team itself is a scoring machine at all three levels, shooting an overall field goal percentage of 43.8 percent, a free throw percentage of 80.1 percent, and most importantly, a three-point percentage of 36 percent. That impressive hit rate from deep is the 27th-highest in the county and gives them a lot of points – the Rams are earning an astronomical 36.6 percent of their points from deep.

Offensive Rebound Rate: So, the Rams have a resume littered with statistical proficiencies, and they're led by one of the best playmakers in Mountain West history, but they're 7-7 in conference play – six games out of first place. They must also have a weakness or two.

One such weakness is offensive rebounding. Colorado State’s performance on the offensive glass isn’t just bad, it is utterly deficient. CSU is the worst in the county at collecting offensive boards. It's absolutely jarring that a team that is so outstanding and seemingly well-rounded can be so atrocious at something so significant. It truly is an anomaly, and the Rams are grabbing a shocking 3.5 offensive rebounds a game.

Utah State, a weak offensive rebounding team itself, grabs 9.4. To add some perspective to Colorado State’s absurdly low number, last game, Utah State had four offensive rebounds in the second half alone. Both Samiana Suguturaga and Bridget Mullings grabbed three offensive rebounds during the game.

For even more perspective, the two offensive leaders for the Aggies, Suguturaga and Mullings, each average 1.2 offensive boards on their own. The entire Colorado State roster averages 3.5.

Parker Ballantyne covers Utah State women's basketball for The Aggship. You can follow him on Twitter at @PShark14 for updates on the Aggies.