Last season, the CSU basketball team had its first winning season since 2006-07 and won 19 games for the first time since 2002-03.
Now the team will look to build on that success despite losing three starters.
Included in those losses is leading scorer and dominant post-presence Andy Ogide, who averaged 18 points per game last season.
And the knowledge that they have to replace such key cogs led to what many players called the best summer theyâ€™ve had in years.
â€œOffseason for us was big in the weight room,â€ forward Greg Smith said. â€œA lot of us had to get stronger; we got pushed around a lot (last year). I gained 20 pounds. Everybody really worked on their game in their own time.â€
That added size will be necessary as the Rams now enter the season with no players taller than 6-6 who have seen any collegiate action.
And the undersized lineup has also forced CSU to alter its offensive identity. we did last year,â€ Smith said. â€œWeâ€™re not holding the ball, we donâ€™t have a big post presence like we had last year, so weâ€™re running and playing a whole different up-tempo game.â€
A fast-paced game seems to fit well for a team that boasts three proven ball-handlers at guard.
On the front-line CSU may be undersized but athletic, led by Smith who has a chance to step in as CSUâ€™s go-to guy.
â€œItâ€™s going to be good for our team,â€ Green said. â€œYouâ€™ve got to adapt for your team, so I think weâ€™re doing that right now. It should be fun to play and hopefully fun to watch.â€
The offense will focus on constant movement whereas last year the Rams often stalled waiting to get the ball to Ogide.
â€œIt was kind of a double-edged sword last year,â€ CSU coach Tim Miles said. â€œAndy was so good, but it also made us pretty one-dimensional â€“â€“ just sit around and get it into Andy. Thereâ€™s a way we can get everybody involved and thatâ€™s through ball movement and player movement.â€
The Rams have now been practicing for a little over a week in preparation for their first preseason game on Nov. 1.
The excitement of getting back on the court has already started to wear off on the players and they are ready for some real action.
â€œIâ€™m tired of beating up on everybody and everybody beating up on me,â€ Smith said. â€œHaving some new faces out there to go against in a game-like atmosphere will be perfect.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.