Mar 182007
 
Authors: Sean Star

First and foremost, big ups to CSU Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyck for being a man of his word and firing former men’s hoops coach Dale Layer a week ago.

Kowalczyck said he had “no question” that he could turn around the CSU athletic department when he was hired last April. And letting Layer go with one year remaining on his contract proves the new AD is serious about his goal.

Showing Layer the door will cost a financially-starving athletic department $200,000 – but another season under the guidance of Layer could have proved to be costlier.

Layer’s overall record shows that his teams lost three more games than they won (103-106), but it was his atrocious 31-71 record in Mountain West Conference play that really cost him his job.

However, Layer’s head coaching position seemed anything but in jeopardy two months ago when the Rams started the season 14-4 and 4-2 in the MWC.

But CSU would go 3-9 down the stretch, including a five-game losing streak, to finish in a tie for sixth place in the nine-team MWC.

The Rams were able to pull off an upset in the first round of the conference tournament with a thrilling 69-64 victory over San Diego State, but they would fall to the eventual champion, UNLV, on its home court 88-72 to finish the season 17-13.

It was the sixth time in seven seasons the Rams failed to reach the postseason under Layer.

Frankly though, it’s too bad that Layer can’t remain with the Rams to help with recruiting because the man has excelled in bringing talent to Fort Collins, largely through junior college transfers.

But that is where the problem starts: The talent never really seemed to match the level of production.

While Kowalczyck has said that he will not comment publicly about the current search for a new men’s basketball coach, he did say he expects stiff competition in a market suddenly flooded with vacancies.

New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming of the MWC, along with Colorado and Denver, are also currently searching for a new men’s head coach.

“I am confident that there will be a great deal of interest in this position on a national basis,” said Kowalczyck during a press conference last week. “This is an attractive setting at a premier institution and a program that competes in one of the nation’s top conferences.”

Whoever is selected as the 18th men’s basketball coach for the CSU Rams will be taking over a team loaded with talent.

While the overall production of senior point guard Cory Lewis will be missed, and the effort of Freddy Robinson will not be forgotten, all the important pieces to the puzzle should return to Moby next year.

Should junior forward Jason Smith not make the mistake of prematurely entering the NBA draft, and barring any transfers, the Rams could make its new coach look like a savior.

Men’s basketball beat writer Sean Star can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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