Here is the preview of what you can expect of Colorado State as a basketball team going into conference play. Going back to my preseason preview I was way off thinking Tim Miles wouldn't use his freshman and Dorian Green is getting the most minutes of anyone along with Pierce Hornung and Greg Smith getting time in the rotation. So where should you expect out of CSU now that we have seen them play 14 games, catch it after the jump...
First let's cover the team as a whole. If you like spread sheets most of these stats will be in one below the paragraph. The Rams average 69.2 points a game with a season high of 93 against Yale and a low of 50 on the road against Fresno. Scoring 69.2 ranks them 8th in the conference as does allowing 63.6 points a game. Their low scoring doesn't bother me as this team will win with defense and not shooting people out of the building. CSU averages a conference low 10.4 assists per game but their offense is not built around assists and they have been missing their best passer in Jesse Carr. Their big problem is turnovers as they are 8th in the conference only ahead of Wyoming as they average 15.8 turnovers a game. The Rams come in at 5th in steals with 8.1 a game. They have helped themselves from behind the arc shooting 36.8% which is 3rd in the conference, that could see a boost as Andre McFarland is back and is their best 3 point shooter. They also rebound well as they are 5th in the conference at 36.6 points a game and 3rd in offensive rebounds with 12 a game. The Rams only give up and average of 31.4 rebounds a game and 9.3 offensive boards a game. CSU shoots a average conference low 43.4 percent which should also come back up as Dorian Green gets more experienced.
|Statistical Catagory (MWC Rank)||CSU Rams
|Points per game (8,8)||69.2||63.6|
|Field Goal % (9,9)||43.4||40.6|
|3 Point Field Goal % (3,?)||36.8||32.4|
|Rebounds per game (5,?)
|Offensive Rebounds per game (3,?)
Not looking great but the Rams have not settled into a rotation yet as players continue to return from injury that should only help. On to the players, I will start with the most critical to the Rams success.
These players are essential to the Rams successful season, the Rams go as these players go.
Carr is returning from an injury and is still looking to find his shot, just 36% over his first 11 attempts. He is the Rams best passer by leaps so the assist numbers should jump with his playing time along with the 3 point numbers. This issue here is how healthy is Carr and how many minutes can he contribute.
Ogide is the Rams big man threat and he shows flashes of dominance and an improved touch around the basket over last year. He still must play within his potential on offense and use quick moves instead of dribble moves. If the Rams have a big presence in the paint they could surprise a few people but that is on the shoulders of Ogide.
Franklin is the Rams scoring threat and has done a great job getting to the line. The key will be to see how he matches up with other athletes in the MWC and if he can sustain his performance against better talent. He is shooting a hot 54% by getting to the basket at any time he wants.
I personally wouldn't want him in this category but Tim Miles insists on giving him the most minutes on the team, its up to Green on what he does with those minutes. When Green shoots 3-12 the Rams will lose most nights, when he shoots a 3-5 the Rams have a much better chance. Until Green becomes a scorer he needs to limit his chances and play the point guard role.
Important Role Players
These players will be the depth of the Rams and are important to their success but all have a little question mark on their backs.
After transferring from Minnesota Busch tore his ACL and is still getting his legs under him. He looks to be the 6th man on the team and should provide a good assist to turnover ratio and rebounding help. Miles has used him to shut down scorers so he could have a big role. So far his shooting stroke hasn't come back putting in just 28% of his attempts.
Another guy that Miles is leaning on young as a true freshman. He is an effort player but impressed with his cuts and finishing ability against Yale. He does a good job of taking care of the ball but is still on the small side to play a power forward, the position he got comfortable with in high school. If Miles keeps giving him the minutes he will have to keep improving and cut down on silly fouls that he has a knack for picking up.
Mame Bocar Ba
The Rams second option at center. He doesn't look bad but is raw and can't be depended on to run your offense through. I have been impressed when he gets in as he looks to be much more polished since last season. If Ogide gets hurt or in foul trouble Ba will have to put up quality minutes for the Rams.
Another freshman for Miles that could get some big minutes. Think J.R. Smith but penetration instead of 3 pointers, he could fall under the great quote "He has the ability to keep both teams in the game". Having said that he does have the skill to take over a game a la Travis Franklin and could develop into the Rams next big name.
McFarland is coming back from injury but seemed to find his stroke against Yale hitting 3 three pointers. As one of the most experienced Rams he could see a lot of playing time depending on his recovery. McFarland might sneak his way into the starting line up or be the 6th man.
Adam Nigon Like Players
Nigon gets his own category cause anyone else on the team will just grab garbage minutes unless there is significant injuries. As a former walk on Nigon is a great story but with the job Miles and his staff have done recruiting I have to imagine that Nigon starts to lose minutes once the team gets healthy. Nigon can disappear on the offensive end for minutes at a time but plays decent defense. He isn't a shutdown defender so he loses that role to Busch it looks like.
The starting 5 should look something like if everyone is healthy, I think Miles will run a 10 man rotation with some others grabbing minimal minutes.
G- Dorian Green -Adam Nigon
G- Jesse Carr
F- Travis Franklin - Pierce Hornung
F- Andre McFarland - Travis Busch - Greg Smith
C- Andy Ogide - Mame Bocar Ba
So some scouting on the Rams...
They can't handle a zone defense so far this year. With McFarland coming back that might change some but the Rams don't pass quick enough to get the defense out of position so they will have to rely on the drive and dish method for now. If you want to beat the Rams use a zone defense and make them shoot the ball.
The Rams are solid defensively and have enough players they can run out and guard players that foul trouble wont be the end of them. Their depth is a blessing and a curse, they have the ability to run 10-11 guys out there and the skill level doesn't change drastically. It is a curse because unless someone surprises the talent level is flattened between the starters and 10th man.
They have played well at home so I could see them stunning a decent team in conference, i.e. Utah, UNLV type level team this year. On the road I could see them falling to a Wyoming or TCU in an ugly poorly played game though.
Tim Miles has done a great job so far and it looks to be paying off as the Rams haven't looked this good since he took over.