As the stinging end of the CSU menâ€™s basketball season wears off, anticipation for next season builds. The loss of four seniors will bring questions of who will fill the holes left behind. Hereâ€™s a look at how things break down by position, with several openings remaining to be filled by recruits.
This is the biggest question mark heading into the 2011-12 season. Andy Ogide has anchored this position for three seasons despite being undersized. And now that the first team all-Mountain West Conference star is gone, the only true centers left on the roster are seven-footer Trevor Williams and 6-10 Chad Calcaterra, both redshirt freshmen. Neither have played a minute of college ball.
CSU will lose Travis Franklin and role player Andre McFarland, but they have some depth here.
The production of this unit will start with Greg Smith. During the season coach Tim Miles called him â€œFranklin in waiting.â€ Smith has impressive quickness allowing him to get to the basket like Franklin, and his range extends to the three-point line. He will have to find a way to be consistent game-in and game-out as a starter.
The interior forward play will come from senior Will Bell and junior Pierce Hornung. Bell has all the athletic ability in the world and can be a ferocious shot-blocker at times. But he hasnâ€™t been able to lockdown playing time because of inconsistency. The Rams will need him to be a force inside on defense to make up for the loss of Ogide.
Hornung is the ultimate effort guy. Guaranteed to provide offensive rebounds and hustle plays, the MWC sixth-man of the year will look to give the same type of energy while also expanding his offensive game.
Look for Miles to target big-men in recruiting to help the center and forwards positions.
This should be the strength of the squad. The Ramsâ€™ season will likely hinge on a couple key guards taking a step forward in their junior seasons.
Point guard Dorian Green will enter his third year after starting his freshman and sophomore seasons. He provides good composure, but seemed to disappear at times this season and went through a serious shooting slump in the second half of the season. He will need to be the leader and floor general for the Rams.
Wes Eikmeier should only get better in his second season at CSU. He showed flashes this year, most notably a 25 point effort in a near-upset of BYU. He started slow while shaking off the rust from sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer regulations, and then got hurt just as he was hitting his stride. If healthy he could be the teamâ€™s go-to scorer.
CSU should also get contributions from Jesse Carr providing energy off the bench and Dwight Smith looks primed to become the Rams best perimeter defender, replacing Adam Nigon.
Menâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.