Improvement is good, but itâ€™s not been quite good enough for the CSU menâ€™s basketball team.
Less than a week removed from a difficult 74-60 loss to Morehead State and an early exit from the College Basketball Invitational, Rams head coach Tim Miles said he considers the 2009-2010 season a success, but still desires more.
â€œAt the beginning of the year, I thought if we could make any postseason, I would be happy,â€ he said. â€œThat would mean we were a winning team and in the top five of our league. We accomplished that. At the end of the year you always have the regret and the remorse of knowing we should have won this game or that game and it would have been a special year.
â€œIn my mind it was a good year, not a great year, but we showed progress, and thatâ€™s what we wanted all along.â€
Although CSU did fall short of its ultimate goal of an NCAA Tournament berth, the players did see significant improvement over the past five months. Not only did the Rams pick up seven more wins than the 2008-2009 season, they also improved to a fifth place finish in the Mountain West Conference behind four NCAA Tournament teams. CSU finished second-to-last place in the conference last season.
Rams forward Travis Franklin said a change in the attitude of the team spawned CSUâ€™s positive turnaround this season.
â€œWe have a better attitude, and we are playing more as a team,â€ the junior said after finishing the regular season. â€œWe turned it around and have a winning record this year. We just have to compete and get better. We have to take it one step at a time.â€
Along with earning a winning record, the Rams saw a resurgence of a home court advantage this year. CSU went 10-4 at Moby Arena this season, including a seven-game home winning streak to start their campaign.
Although Rams guard Adam Nigon said he was proud of the teamâ€™s record this year, the junior admitted they could have been better. CSU finished the season in a slump, losing seven of their final eight games.
â€œItâ€™s nice to start winning some games and come out having a chance every night,â€ Nigon said. â€œItâ€™s a little disappointing having some games we thought we could have won here and there. When I look back, we possibly could have had a 20-win season if we would have taken care of business in a few road games.â€
Even though the Rams just ended the season, expectations are already mounting for the next yearâ€™s campaign. CSU is expected to return four starters next year, including second team all-conference selection Andy Ogide.
In addition, the Rams will receive needed aid from red shirt freshman Trevor William, a 7-foot center, and guard Wes Eikmeier, a transfer from Iowa State. Point guard Jesse Carr, who fought a groin injury the majority of this season, is also expected to return to the court next fall.
Miles said the Rams taste of success this season has grown the teamâ€™s appetite.
â€œIt needs to make us more hungry, there is no question about it,â€ Miles said. â€œAnything less than that, and weâ€™re in trouble. We need to go out and put this to work for us. Because if we get satisfied with this (a 16-16 record), we are just going to disappoint ourselves in the future, and Iâ€™m not interested in that.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.