I couldnâ€™t have asked for any better time to launch my weekly sports column. Iâ€™ll make the meet-and-greet portion short and sweet. My name is Joel Hafnor, Iâ€™ve lived in Fort Collins since 1990 and have followed the CSU sports program closely every step of the way (even when I was two years old and pooping my pants anywhere from three to four times a day).
In case you havenâ€™t heard, the Colorado State menâ€™s basketball team is on the eve of its biggest home game in more than 10 years as they host the 9th-ranked BYU Cougars tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
The Cougars feature the nationâ€™s leading scorer in Jimmer Fredette, who is a bonafide national-player-of-the-year candidate. I donâ€™t like the guy â€“â€“mainly because his name is Jimmer â€“â€“ but it doesnâ€™t help that he goes to Brigham Young University.
After a bitter divorce between BYU and the Mountain West Conference, I would put a lot of money on this being the Cougarsâ€™ last visit to Fort Collins for the next 700 centuries.
The Rams come in fresh off of their Wednesday night beat down of UNLV. With a record of 13-5 with a 3-1 mark in conference, your CSU Rams look every bit like a team that can play in the NCAA tournament this year.
If you havenâ€™t been to a game this year, itâ€™s okay. Iâ€™m going to use this column to catch you up. Iâ€™ll introduce you to the key players, giving you a basic foundation to work with.
Here are the six players who have made the biggest impact so far this season:
- #32 Andy Ogide: Transferred to CSU as a sophomore from Ole Miss. He has improved significantly in each season, and is now the Ramsâ€™ lone post scoring presence. He has a power-forwardâ€™s body but has succeeded as the Ramsâ€™ pseudo-center throughout his career. He ranks 29th nationally in field goal percentage at 59.8 percent and leads the Rams in points (15.4) and rebounds (7.5).
- #1 Travis Franklin: This guy features an incredible ability to attack the basket and either get easy baskets or draw fouls. Heâ€™s never met a jump shot that he liked, and 99 times out of 100, heâ€™ll opt to drive the ball instead of settling for an outside jumper. (The one time I saw him settle for a jumper this season came on Christmas Eve in a nationally televised game against Southern Miss â€¦ it ruined Christmas for everyone who saw it). When both Franklin and Ogide are playing well, there arenâ€™t many teams in the country who can stop us.
- #22 Dorian Green: Led the team in scoring as a freshman, but this year has taken on a complementary scoring role to Franklin and Ogide. Though he is only a sophomore, he seems to be the most composed player on the team under pressure. You can trust his decision-making ability and general feel for the game. I have a strong feeling that he is going to make a ridiculously huge shot for us sometime this season. Check back with me in March.
- #2 Wes Eikmeier: Transferred from Iowa State after his freshman year. This is his first season with the Rams, and of late he has begun playing quite well. He is the quickest of the three sophomore point guards and can stroke from outside when heâ€™s feeling it. I have it on good authority that he forgot his shoes to Las Vegas for Wednesdayâ€™s game; maybe heâ€™ll be the first player to ever play in socks tomorrow night.
- #12 Adam Nigon: Earned the walk-on spot during Coach Milesâ€™ reconstruction year in 2007-08. He shoots from downtown exactly 97.2 percent of the time he puts up a field goal, and when heâ€™s feeling it, he can take over a game (as proof of his seven three-pointers against Wyoming this year). Heâ€™s a tough defender who earned his scholarship over the past couple years by exhibiting a high basketball IQ.
- #4 Pierce Hornung: My good friend Nick put it best during the CU-CSU game on Dec. 8 by saying, â€œI want my son to grow up and play basketball like Pierce Hornung.â€ He is the least flashy/explosive player in North America but always tends to be in the right place at the right time.
Now you should have a basic understanding of the key players, I hope youâ€™ll go out there tomorrow night and be loud as ever. We all get the chance to make a statement in this one; to create an environment that instills fear in the opposition. Letâ€™s get rowdy, be unruly and generally ballistic. Weâ€™ll send the Cougars out losers in their final visit to Moby.
Sports Editor Joel Hafnor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.