In the off-season, despite the heavy player losses from last season’s team, Rams center Stuart Creason tried to explain to doubters that his CSU men’s basketball team was going to be solid this year, due to incoming talent.
With their 107-76 thrashing of the Chadron State Eagles Saturday, the Rams showed flashes of brilliance that confirmed Creason’s statement, especially freshmen Andre McFarland and Josh Simmons, who scored 25 and 21 points, respectively in the Rams final exhibition game of the season.
“I think for the last six months, all I’ve been hearing is how sorry everyone feels for me, and I keep trying to tell them we’ve got two solid guards and two pretty good forwards,” Creason said, the only senior on the Rams roster.
CSU never trailed in the game, leading by as much as 13 points in the first half, but Chadron State pulled within one point at 57-56 with 14:23 remaining in the game. The Rams outscored the Eagles 50-20 from that point on, sparked by an immediate 19-2 run to take control of the game.
Perhaps even more impressive about the Rams 31-point victory was that CSU coach Tim Miles still saw room for improvement, as poor defense allowed Chadron State to start 10-18 from 3-point range.
Miles was upset that it was a switch from his favored man-to-man defense to a zone defense that keyed the Rams run, but it couldn’t be argued that the zone was effective against the Eagles, as they missed their last 14 shots from 3-point range and finished just 10-32 from long range.
“We spend three quarters of our practice on man-to-man defense, and then to go out and stink, it’s frustrating,” said Miles, who added that CSU also didn’t rebound as well as they needed to. “We didn’t play man well at all, which was very disappointing.”
The Rams were very excited at the opportunity to “bust the clock,” as Simmons put it, as they went over the century mark on a basket by freshman Flynn Clayman with 3:12 remaining in the game.
The Rams broke the game open with fast break points, which Creason said should be a sign of things to come.
“We (ran the fast break) almost the entire half and we are going to have to continue to do that if we are going to be successful,” said Creason, who scored 20 points. “I can remember three different times that I got a rebound and threw to a guy streaking down court, and I didn’t even get past the free throw line before they made a lay-up.”
Both teams had five players score in double figures, but while CSU had three players score at least 20 points, Chadron State was led by Tim McLaurin, who scored just 12 points.
Despite the victory, the Rams know that they have a lot of work to do before they open their regular season Friday against Montana.
“We’ve got a lot of things we need to fix, fine tune in practice this week to get ready,” said Simmons.
Points Rebounds Assists
Colorado State-107 Andre McFarland-25
Josh Simmons-21 Willis Gardner-7
Stuart Creason-6 Marcus Walker-6
Chadron State-76 Tim McLaurin- 12
Two others tied with 11 Dameon Gant- 6