November 17, 2010
Colorado State basketball's 2010-11 keys to success
With the 2010-11 college basketball season underway, I've decided to look at the five main keys to success for Colorado State this year. With a team that returns four starters from a season ago and made its first postseason berth since the NCAA Tournament in 2003, things are looking up on the hardwood in Fort Collins.
It's nice to have guards
For CSU to really be successful this season, the Rams are going to need a lot of help from their guards, especially Jesse Carr and Iowa State transfer Wes Eikmeier. Having these two sophomores contribute up top will take a lot of pressure off of starting point guard Dorian Green along with former walk-on Adam Nigon.
For all intents and purposes, Green and Nigon were the only two guards CSU had on roster during the 2009-10 season, which played a pretty big role in the Rams getting a little sloppy late in the season.
Because they were exhausted.
Green led the team with 35 minutes per game and Nigon wasn't too far behind at 27.7. Having a supporting cast up top will pay off tremendously this season.
Keep making it rain
Last season, the Rams really had only two true three-point shooters who were healthy - once again, Green and Nigon. Still, CSU finished third in the Mountain West Conference in three-point percentage at .353. However, the Rams were seventh in three-pointers made.
With Andre McFarlin back to full strength, arguably the best threat the Rams have from long range, along with Carr and Eikmeier being daggers in the front court, this team should be able to average .400 on the season from behind the arc. And don't forget that Andy Ogide has a nice shot from deep.
Dominate the state
So yes, while CSU did go 4-1 against opponents from the state of Colorado in 2009-10, I realty think the Rams need to sweep the competition this season to make their presence truly felt. But that won't be easy.
That all starts on Thursday when CSU heads down Interstate 25 to Denver to take on the Pioneers. Even though this is a game that CSU should win, beating a non-conference Centennial State foes on the road is something the Rams have never done under Tim Miles.
If CSU can top Denver, a team that will be heading off to the Western Athletic Conference soon, that should serve as the perfect preparation for the Rams' next road game - against Colorado on Dec. 8.
They're called free throws for a reason
OK, this one pretty much goes without saying, but CSU needs to be able to shoot above .700 this season at the charity stripe. In 2009-10, the Rams averaged .676 at the line, good for fifth place in the MWC, which is also where they finished in the league standings.
Over the course of the conference season, games are won and lost at the free throw line, as eight CSU players last year finished shooting below 70 percent at the line.
With one game in the books, CSU is shooting .704 at the line with Travis Franklin going 6 of 6 while Ogide is only shooting 2 of 6 (who would have thunk it?). If Franklin, who has adjusted his shot, can shoot that well, so can the rest of the team.
A contributing post presence
We all know how well Ogide can dominate the post when he's on his game and Franklin is a great support at the 4-spot, but having a constant presence down low outside of those two players is something CSU has missed the past couple of seasons. Although, Mame Bocar Ba was a great "try-hard" type player who could bang bodies last season.
With freshman Chad Calcaterra redshirting this season, that leaves the task of support up to JUCO transfer Will Bell and redshirt freshman Trevor Williams.
Williams, a Denver native who stands at 7-feet tall, didn't look much more useful than Ronnie Aguilar ever did in the Rams' season-opener against Arkansas Pine Bluff. In eight minutes, Williams missed two point-blank shots, went 1 of 4 at the free throw line and only brought down a single rebound. Oh, and did I mention he fouled out?
Hopefully it's just a learning curve for Williams, because having a 7-footer can be so useful
if he can play.
Bell, on the other hand, really stood out in his debut against UAPB. The Northeastern JC transfer was a perfect 6 of 6 at the line, was 4 of 8 from the floor, finished with 14 points and had six rebounds. If Bell, a southpaw, can keep that type of play up, the MWC better look out for CSU.
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