The Rams have high hopes this year after finishing 5th in the MWC last year. In true Rams fashion they beat none of the four teams better them then in the MWC out of SDSU, UNLV, BYU, or UNM. This year they have been picked to finish in the same spot. This is a team on the rise according to Andy Katz with Tim Miles at the helm. Let's take a look at the Rams.
The Rams really didn't lose anyone of importance besides forward Travis Busch and Mame Bocar Ba as their back up center. Ba was nothing special but when Andy Ogide would get in foul trouble or need a breather he was a suitable back up. Travis Busch came of an ACL injury and took awhile to get going but was good down the stretch as a shooter and rebounder. Busch brought a mature element to a young team since he had played 3 years at Minnesota. Everyone else was expendable or played below expectations last year. So the Rams have kept all their core players and top five scorers.
The additions are what Rams fans should be excited about. Last years class of Dorian Green, Greg Smith, and Pierce Hornung was not fluke as Tim Miles keeps bringing in talent. Including redshirt freshman, and transfers the Rams will see minutes from 7'0" Trevor Williams, JC transfer Will Bell, Iowa State transfer Wes Eikmeier, and freshman Moe Wiltz. All good depth to a roster that was 16-16 (7-9) a year ago. The biggest addition will be the man with the broken pelvis, Jesse Carr. If you read my writeup last year it was a reoccurring theme that the team was missing Jesse Carr as a point guard and outside threat. The Rams will beat a top 4 team this year if Jesse Carr stays healthy. Carr, who was granted a medical hardship, will distribute the ball better then any Ram last year.
Let's take a look at the main attractions to the Rams after The Jump...
The starting five it tough to tell at this point cause the Rams actually have a surplus at guard this year with Green, Carr, Eikmeier, and Adam Nigon. I would like to see Green, Carr, and Eikmeier be the top players per minute. Carr is a true point guard that can shoot. Green can drive and dish but must shoot a better percentage this year. Eikmeier is an outside threat that will compliment the Rams offense. Nigon might be the loser out of this deal but his ability to shoot(now and then) might give him some minutes.
Down low the Rams have Andy Ogide who with some consistency could be the best big man in the MWC. He had to many disappearing acts last year to solidify himself. Williams will have to turn on his mean streak and play the tough minutes that Bocar Ba did last season. It has yet to be seen from him. Freshman Chad Calcaterra would be the Rams other option at big man. The Rams will also have the full time services of Andre McFarland who has shot above 40% from behind the arc as a forward. Travis Franklin...
Travis Franklin gets his own paragraph. Franklin should once again dominate on offense for the Rams. Another year under his belt can only help his game. The word on the street is that he worked on a mid range jumper. It would only have to be mildly accurate for it to make a big difference to his offensive game and the Rams scoring chances.
The one misstep so far is on the part of Greg Smith. He is having trouble in the classroom so far which is not good if you look at the path Harvey Perry took last year on the same road. Perry went from averaging 17 minutes down to ten and a good chunk of those were in blowouts. Perry was never trusted by Miles again. Smith needs to get the grades up fast and get out of Miles' doghouse. The Rams could use his scoring and energy.
The talent is starting to pool in Fort Collins. It use to be the question of who sucks less that we can put in. Now Tim Miles has the luxury to look down his bench and ask him self who is better in this situation. This team isn't going to sweep the MWC but it will surprise some people for sure.
Taking a look at the schedule it is a real possibilty the Rams could start MWC play at 9-1 with that loss coming to Kansas in Lawrence. At Colorado will be a tough game but no reason to call it an automatic loss. No one else in their non conference schedule is scary. They do have two travel tournaments that could give them fits if they play three days in a row though. The long home stand for the Rams is two games in MWC play.
Best case scenario might actually be a MWC title. If everyone beats each other up and the Rams get the tie breaker I could see it as a best case scenario. Worst case might actually be about a .400 season where the Rams don't beat anyone of the top four teams and Jesse Carr breaks his pelvis again.
Realistic view I think the Rams finish in the top four. Out of the eight games against top teams the Rams win 2-3 and that might kick out the worst of SDSU, BYU, UNLV, and UNM. Considering the MWC got four teams in the tournament last year I think they could sneak in the Big Dance and the MWC might even get 5 votes depending how the panels feel.
The basketball team has a buzz around them they haven't had in 5-6 years. I barely knew there was a basketball team when I got to CSU, they went winless in the MWC that year. Now there are talks about possible big upsets and a visit to the dance.