If you’re a Colorado State Rams fan, you’ve witnessed history this season.
Without a doubt, this is the best basketball team in the 110-year history of the program at CSU. Let’s count the reasons why.
We can start with the multitude of school records they’ve set. At this point, with the season finale against the Nevada Wolf Pack on tap Saturday at 6:30 pm MT at Moby Arena, the Rams have set at least five school records.
13 non-conference wins to start the regular season was just the beginning. Their 14 straight home wins were part of the 27-game home winning streak that dated back to last year. Three sellouts in a row at Moby — another record.
When they beat the Air Force Falcons 79-40, it was the largest margin of victory over a conference foe. The win over the Wyoming Cowboys Wednesday night was CSU’s 23rd of the season, tying another record.
And when they found themselves ranked No. 24 in early February, it was the first time in the top-25 since 1954.
Colorado State’s achievements this year have been astonishing, and the credit must first be given to the top-down.
Larry Eustachy inherited a team chock full of seniors, but he’s won them over, challenged them all and they’re playing the best collective and individual basketball of their lives. Eustachy’s brand of basketball is all about exerting maximum effort, rebounding relentlessly and defending with determination; these Rams get it.
They’ve become the best rebounding team in the nation by playing fundamentally sound on both ends. Seniors, young men set in their ways, have embraced Eustachy’s tutelage; finding opposing players, putting a body on them and then grabbing the ball.
Controlling the glass means controlling the game – limiting opponents’ opportunities of scoring while maximizing your own – it’s certainly a reason the Rams are tough to beat. Center Colton Iverson leads the Mountain West Conference in rebounding (9.7 per), teammate Pierce Hornung is second (9.1), and all told, four CSU players are in the top 13 in the MW.
Defensively, it’s all about working harder than the other team, making them fight for open shots. At times, CSU has sunk under screens and allowed opposing guards to go off for career-highs, but overall, they’re a better defensive team than in recent years.
And on offense, Colorado State has grown from an outside shooting squad to one that plays inside-out.
Iverson’s 6-foot-10, 260-pound size gives that big body to play in the post, where he’s excelled all season long. He leads the team in scoring (14.4 per) and his 13 double-doubles are also tops in the Mountain West. Iverson deserves consideration as the conference’s Player of the Year.
The always gritty Dorian Green is second in scoring (13.5), and he set two school records by starting 126 straight games for the green and gold. Green’s a leader, an intelligent mind and humble player. He’s the on-court coach that helps keep cohesiveness when things start to go awry. Plus, it helps that he’s deadly from downtown.
Greg Smith is smooth, loving to pull up in the mid-range or drive inside, while Wes Eikmeier can catch fire in a hurry. Both have unselfishly sacrificed personal production for team success, a sure sign of maturity. Even bench men Jon Octeus and Daniel Bejarano have contributed when Colorado State has needed it most, and the seven-man rotation is a close bunch.
When the Rams are playing their game, they’re unstoppable.
It showed Wednesday in their 78-56 win over Wyoming; CSU controlled the boards 35-11, shot lights out (61.5 percent) by sharing the rock and running in transition as well as physically dominating the Cowboys on their home court. Iverson’s 12-12 shooting tied a MW record, and his 29 points were a career-high.
Colorado State is a team to be reckoned with now, as well as in the coming MW and NCAA Tournaments.
Eustachy’s given the Rams confidence, and a new system that’s proven. If everything goes right, Colorado State could possibly win their way into the Sweet 16.
Either way, this team has already proven they’re the greatest in school history.