Colorado State is looking to make the Mountain West basketball a five-bid league this season. The Rams are coming off a 16-16 record from last season, were 7-9 in conference play and nearly upset San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference tournament. The Rams ended up going to the CBI where they lost to Morehead State, but this year there is some chatter that Colorado State can make a run at an NCAA tournament bid.
Head coach Tim Miles, now in his fourth season, has shown immense improvement each year. In his first year he won zero conference games, then improved to four wins and last year won seven conference games. Last season the Rams were 0-8 against the top four teams in the Mountain West, so the next logical step is for them to start beating the likes of UNLV, BYU, San Diego State and New Mexico if they want to be a serious threat to an at-large NCAA bid.
The Rams do return four starters from last years team and have a surplus of young talent on the team. Two sophomores that coach Tim MIles is high on are Jesse Carr who was one of the best freshman during the 2008-2009 season, however he sat out all by four games last year with a groin injury but he did he gained a medical redshirt. In his freshman year Carr averaged 8.8 points per game and appeared in every game as a true freshman.
The next is last years leading scorer, sophomore Dorian Green who averaged 11.8 points per game. That scoring is low but the rams had three players average double digit points last year and had nine players who averaged 15 minutes or more per game.
The Rams do bring in Iowa State transfer Wes Eikmeier who is a three-point specialist and a player Miles thinks highly of as he compares Elkmeier to BYU's Jackson Emery who was an all-conference selection last year.
The key player on this team that makes things happen is 6-3 senior Adam Nigon. Nigon is a captain and is one of two Ram players to have played in every game the past two seasons. Nigon has an interesting story in that when Tim Miles arrived on campus during his freshman year NIgon was playing intramural basketball. Now, he is the player that keeps this team on track and is a captain.
With the deep guard play on this roster, Miles has said that he will not hesitate to play two point guards at a time or even play three guards at a time. He is quite confident in his back court and will be forcing teams to adjust to his smaller lineup.
Besides returning Green as their leading scorer, the Rams also return the other two players who averaged in double figures in Andy Ogide and Travis Franklin. Ogide averaged 11.7 points per game and 6.5 rebounds and is expected to contribute much more. The main issue with Ogide is that he consistently was in foul trouble which limited his minutes in many games. If he can overcome his foul troubles then he could become a first team all-conference player.
Franklin is Ogide front court mate who also averaged in double figures by scoring 10.5 per game and getting five rebounds per game. Franklin has the ability to score a lot of points as he showed last year when he had four games of 20 points or more. He shoots a decent 54 percent from the field but his free throw shooting is atrocious at 54.5 percent per game last year, and it was even worse during conference play as it dipped down to 48.5 percent.
Two other players from this blooming sophomore class are small forward Greg Smith and Pierce Hornung. As freshman these two players were on the floor at the end of games to either help preserve victory or attempt a comeback. This current group of sophomores that Miles recruited have a chance to build something special at Colorado State starting with this year and into the two years after that.
The one sophomore that has had some issues is Greg Smith. He was held out of this year's two exhibition games due to being suspended due to grades and now he finds himself in trouble for getting into an altercation with his girlfriend. That event will cost him to miss the first three games of the season, and possibly even more when he faces the schools Student Council Office.
This Rams team looks to be on the cusp of something special and will need to start getting wins over the top four of the Mountain West to attempt to move up the pecking order. An NIT bid should be the low end of expectations for Colorado State this season. Their non-conference schedule is nothing too difficult with the exception of facing Colorado, Kansas and then possibly St. Louis and Ole Miss when the Rams are at the Governors' Cup tournament.
Here is the Rams non-conference schedule. A few games will be added with the tournaments that the Rams are a part of this year.