Virginia, Colorado State take ‘cockroach’ mentality to handle whirlwind of NCAA

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: UVA Athletics

Niko Medved subscribes to a philosophy that well serves his Colorado State basketball team, or any team for that matter, at this time of year. Medved calls it the “cockroach” mentality.

Both Colorado State and Virginia, opponents in tonight’s “First Four” games in Dayton, have been forced to take on a cockroach mentality in a whirlwind 48 hours. Colorado State played in the Mountain West Conference championship game vs. New Mexico in Las Vegas and didn’t get home until early in the morning Sunday, and found out later in the day it was heading to Dayton on Monday. Virginia had a little more time to settle in, but not a lot in preparation for tonight’s game.

The winner will fly to Charlotte on Wednesday and face No. 7 seed Texas on Thursday.

Medved, who has coached Colorado State for years, noted that while panda bears live in only certain regions of the world, exist in a certain climate and only eat one kind of food in order to survive, it is nothing like the cockroach.

“Then you take a cockroach, you’ve been around them, those guys can live through anything. Whether it’s 50 below zero, 150 degrees,” Medved explained. “I remember having them when I was first a student assistant and they’re in your apartment, and you’re trying to stomp on them with your feet or throw basketballs at them to kill them. They just live through anything.

“The point being is that cockroaches can adapt to anything in their environment, and not only survive, but thrive. That’s what it is. You’ve got to be like a cockroach. You’ve got to find a way to not only survive, but learn to thrive in those situations and make the most of what’s next.”

Selection Sunday provided those cockroach moments for Colorado State and Virginia.

Medved said his team got home at 1:30 in the morning Sunday, hadn’t unpacked, got some sleep, and then came the selection show, which meant jumping on a plane Monday to get to Dayton.

“We were on Pacific time, now we’re East Coast, and so we’re figuring out how we’re going to watch UVA film, try to get our players some rest,” the Rams coach said.

A 9:30 a.m. flight Monday took a little longer than expected, got to Dayton around 3:30, 25 minutes to the hotel, got on the bus, ate a taco, taped on the bus, got over to the arena for a 45-minute practice.

Virginia was also caught up in the quick trip, not even sure if it would make the tournament field until its name was called after 6 p.m. Sunday on the selection show.

“It’s a quick turnaround,” said UVA sophomore guard Isaac McKneely. “We went from watching the show on Sunday, uncertain if we’d even be in the field, to seeing our name come up. And then we ended up practicing that night because we like to get two practices in before a game. Then we were off to Dayton and here we are.”

Teammate Ryan Dunn agreed.

“It was a crazy 48 hours for us,” Dunn said. “We were sitting on our couches just trying to see if we were playing. Next thing you know we’re here in front of you guys (in Dayton). But we’re grateful to be here.”