Nov 022010
 
Authors: Joel Hafnor

Exhibition season is oftentimes as much about finding your rotation and rhythm as it is winning the game.
But it doesn’t hurt to win –– something the CSU men’s basketball team did in convincing fashion on Tuesday night in an 88-48 route over Regis University.

The Rams controlled the game from the tipoff and never looked back, leading by 20 at the half before doubling their lead in the second frame.

Head coach Tim Miles was pleased with the Rams’ effort but said the offense didn’t execute to its full potential.

“I thought the kids did well. We have more depth and balance than we’ve had,” Miles said. “We still need more of a post presence. Our offense needs some balance, inside and out.”

The Rams had five players in double figures, including sophomore Jesse Carr, who poured in a game-high 16 points. Carr, who missed most of last season with a pelvic injury, showed no ill effects on Tuesday.
“The pelvis is 100 percent. It’s actually better than before,” Carr said. “My lateral movement is definitely coming back. I’m just excited to be out there.”

Carr is one of the three outstanding sophomore guards for the Rams this season, as Dorian Green and Wes Eikmeier are also expected to key largely in the success of the 2010-11 team.

Eikmeier, who sat out last year after transferring from Iowa State after the 2008-09 season, was impressive in his CSU debut with 12 points and 4 steals. Green finished with 13 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals.

“We have a pretty strong sophomore guard class. We are pretty excited to grow with one another,” Carr said. “We have a (good time) with together, it’s going to be fun.”

Both Carr and Eikmeier give the Rams a much-needed outside shooting dimension, something CSU lacked last season.

“When you’re more effective scoring from the outside, that’s going to open up driving lanes for Travis Franklin and some of the other guys we have,” Eikmeier said.

Franklin, who averaged 10.5 points per game last season, can best be described as an offensive hybrid. At 6-foot-7, Franklin can challenge opponents with speed and ball handling ability unique to his size – A skill-set that Miles describes as a “point forward.”

Franklin played only 17 minutes on Tuesday night, but finished with 10 points and three assists.

Early in the second half, Franklin illustrated just how superior the Rams were in a single play. Franklin blocked a shot from Regis guard Curtis Mitchell, snatched the ball in mid-air and flew down the court for a reverse dunk.

The 40-point victory came without three of the Rams more crucial components, as senior Adam Nigon, sophomore Greg Smith and his younger brother Dwight Smith were held out of the game.

Nigon is nursing a shoulder injury, while Dwight Smith sat out due to a minor ankle sprain. Greg Smith, who averaged over 7 points per game in 2009-10, missed the contest for academic reasons.

Miles expects his players will accept an increased number of substitutions this year, as the Rams enter the season with more depth than they’ve ever had under the fourth-year head coach.

“I think the hardest part is figuring out our rotations. Getting guys enough minutes,” Miles said. “If this team is going to be good, they are going to have to buy into substitution.”

CSU’s next game is against Western State at Moby Arena on Saturday, concluding its short two-game exhibition season.

Assistant Sports Editor Joel Hafnor can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

“When you’re more effective scoring from the outside, that’s going to open up driving lanes for Travis Franklin and some of the other guys we have.”

-Wes Eikmeier | sophomore guard

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