Senior Night, a special time for the Colorado State Rams.
Especially this season.
CSU is one of the most experienced teams in the nation, with five senior starters leading the way up and down the court.
For four seasons, Dorian Green, Greg Smith and Pierce Hornung have given their all to Rams basketball, while Wes Eikmeier has spent three years starting in Fort Collins and one for Colton Iverson; it will be difficult to say goodbye to these great young men.
Green has been a consummate leader through the entire journey, starting every one of his 127 games with the green and gold and has gone from an erratic player to one of the most confident point guards in the country. Smith has evolved from a selfish shooter into a team-first forward that’s willing to do whatever it takes for his squad. Eikmeier’s scoring has taken a back seat, as he quietly hits big shots when needed but doesn’t try to force it like in the past. Hornung’s never changed; he’s the same kid that plays until his shoes wear out and until he’s covered with bumps and bruises.
And Iverson is the x-factor, the big man in the middle that’s come in and become an immediate Mountain West Conference Player of the Year candidate by dominating the competition every night. He’s given the Rams that missing piece they needed, a real center that can work down low on offense and defense. With the addition of Iverson, CSU’s offense has been flipped on its head, from outside-in to inside-out. They can dump the ball down into him and let the 6’10” 260-pounder out-muscle opposing bigs, or if he’s doubled, he can toss it back outside for Green, Eikmeier or Daniel Bejarano to knock down the shot.
Larry Eustachy’s philosophies have worked incredibly well; Iverson leads the MW in rebounds per game (9.7) and double-doubles (13) and Colorado State is the most remarkable rebounding team in the nation.
Green, Smith, Hornung and Iverson are all enjoying the best years of their basketball lives individually and, along with Eikmeier as well as valuable youngsters on the bench, they’ve grown together into to the best team Colorado State has ever seen.
Tonight, they have a chance to win their final game at Moby Arena and set another record along the way.
A victory over the Nevada Wolf Pack – tip is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Mountain – would be CSU’s 24th on the season, a new regular season best.
But more importantly, it would be their second win in a row – after blowing out the Wyoming Cowboys on Wednesday – a momentum boost heading into the Mountain West tournament next Thursday. The Rams have already locked up a second consecutive NCAA tournament berth, but winning tonight and then a game or two in the MW Tourney will only improve their resume and secure the highest seed possible.
It all starts tonight, though, and there’s no doubt the Rams want to leave their home court victors.
The Rams sold out Moby Arena three straight times – a school record – earlier in the year and the school is expecting another sellout tonight. Very small quantities of tickets, both public and student, remained as of noon Friday.