Over the past month, the CSU men’s basketball team won six games, two of which were Mountain West Conference games, lost two games and had three players leave the program.
Freshmen Jarrel and Jimmy Smith, brothers from Encino, Calif., along with junior forward Alton Robinson, have decided to leave Head Coach Dale Layer’s program.
All players were in their first season at CSU.
“They were great additions to the team and sometimes things don’t work out,” said junior forward Jason Smith.
Senior forward Freddy Robinson said he was “shocked” when informed about the players’ decision to leave the program.
Coach Layer preferred not to comment on the three players after Monday’s practice.
“I don’t want to talk about guys that are not in the program,” he said.
Jarrel Smith played limited time in 10 of the team’s first 11 games. And Jimmy Smith was planning to play as a redshirt his first year at CSU.
Alton Robinson, a six-foot, seven-inch transfer from Pearl River Community College, scored eight points, had four rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot on Dec. 9 in CSU’s 72-69 win at Colorado-Boulder.
The departures come after the transfer of guard Sean Morris after last season and forward Michael Harrision’s decision to leave the team for personal reasons before the start of this season.
During the break, the Rams beat North Dakota State at home on Dec. 18 and defeated Alabama State and Chattanooga on Dec. 29 and 30 to win the Dr. Pepper Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn.
“It’s always good to play in a tournament atmosphere,” said coach Layer about the Classic. “This team continues to improve.”
While most students were given a month to go home and go skiing or snowboarding, the men’s basketball players were given only three-and-a-half days off for the entire break.
Freddy Robinson said the lack of vacation time was just another part of being a student-athlete.
“If you don’t work, you don’t eat. If you don’t grind, you don’t shine,” said Robinson.
The Rams opened MWC play on Jan. 3 against the conference’s best team, the No. 20th-ranked Air Force Academy, with a 81-75 defeat at home.
CSU then won consecutive games at New Mexico and against Utah to start MWC play at 2-1 for the first time in school history.
Junior forward Jason Smith recorded the 1000th point of his career in addition to his sixth double-double of the season to lead the Rams over the Lobos for the first time in Albuquerque since 1971.
CSU evened its conference record to 2-2 over the weekend with an 81-76 defeat to the defending MWC-champion San Diego State Aztecs.
“We played fairly well, but not well enough to win against the most talented team in the conference,” said coach Layer about Saturday’s loss.
The Rams will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, to play TCU on Wednesday.
Smith sat out of a scrimmage during Monday’s practice because of tendentious in his knee, but said he will “definitely” practice today.
Junior forward Tyler Smith sprained his right ankle during Monday’s practice and is also expected to return today.
Men’s basketball beat writer Sean Star can be reached at email@example.com.