Mar 012011
 
Authors: Kevin Lytle

When the CSU men’s basketball team takes the floor tonight against Utah, it will be the final Moby Arena appearance for four Rams seniors.

Those seniors — Travis Franklin, Andre McFarland, Adam Nigon and Andy Ogide—have helped bring Moby Madness back to Fort Collins as they challenge for an NCAA tournament bid for the first time since 2003.

Four years ago, the Rams went 0-16 in Mountain West Conference play in Tim Miles’ first season at the helm of the program.

“These guys bet on us when no one else was, when there was really no compelling reason to come,” Miles said. “Things looked bleak, players were leaving. They obviously knew when they came here we were going to have some down times. They all bought in.”

McFarland, one of Miles’ first recruits, started 31 of 32 games as a freshman when the team went winless in conference.

Nigon was an unheralded walk-on who ended up starting 19 games the same season.

Ogide watched hopelessly from the sidelines as he sat out the year due to NCAA regulations after transferring from Mississippi.

A year later, Franklin joined CSU after playing one year of junior college basketball.

Rams basketball has seen steady improvement since.

In the last four years win totals have risen each year, from seven in 2007-08 to 18 so far this year.

“This town deserves a good basketball team,” Ogide said. “I feel like myself and this class have done a great job of sticking to the course, following the plan and helping bring this program to where we think it can be.”

McFarland started 62 of his first 63 games at CSU, but a bad back limited his time and effectiveness last year and improved talent and depth has kept him on the bench for much of this season. Still, McFarland had a role in a win at Wyoming when he hit a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give CSU momentum.

Nigon earned a scholarship after playing two years as a walk-on and is now a regular starter for the Rams, currently ranking third in the MWC shooting 42 percent from the three-point arc.

Franklin is currently the second-leading scorer on the team, averaging 13 points per game while shooting 57 percent from the field.

Meanwhile, Ogide has become the most dominant big-man at CSU since current New Orleans Hornets center Jason Smith. Ogide ranks third in the conference in points per game (17), fourth in rebounds (7.5) and first in field-goal percentage (59 percent). He is expected to be named to the first team all Mountain West squad at seasons end.

The seniors hope to be known as the class that returned a winning tradition to CSU.

“We were the team that turned the Colorado State program around,” McFarland said. “We were the team that went from the bottom of the Mountain West to a team that can get an NCAA bid year in and year out.”

Men’s Basketball Beat Reporter Kevin Lytle can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:59 pm

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