Hear ye. Hear ye.
The questionably honorable, but undoubtedly amazing, Matt L. Stephens calls to the stand Tim Miles, head coach of the Colorado State menâ€™s basketball team.
Coach, since you always say whatâ€™s on your mind in conversation, I donâ€™t feel the need to swear you in, but I will take this time to inform you and your team that 2010-11 is the season of judgment and expectations are rightfully high.
With constant improvement in your first three seasons, from a winless Mountain West Conference slate in 2007-08, to a 2008-09 season that included an upset over UNLV and finally last yearâ€™s berth in the College Basketball Invitational, youâ€™re a rising name in the coaching ranks.
With the ability to dig up hidden gems like Jesse Carr, Dorian Green and Travis Franklin and successfully land high-caliber transfers from big programs in Andy Ogide (Ole Miss), Wes Eikmeier (Iowa State), Dan Vandervieren (Purdue) and Marcus Walker (Nebraska), itâ€™s safe to say you know how to recruit.
Coach, it would appear that you and the Rams are on a path similar to that of Scott Drew and the Baylor Bears, but in order for me to confirm this, I am asking your team to accomplish the following tasks this season.
Reach the NIT
Returning four out of five starters from 2009-10, I see no reason CSU should not have a berth in the NIT this season, especially since the Rams bring back a true point guard in Carr, who missed last year with a groin injury.
A front court thatâ€™s centered around Ogide, Franklin and redshirt freshman Trevor Williams, who hopes to bring back the 7-footer dominance Stuart Creason once represented, and a back court with Carr, Green, Adam Nigon and Greg Smith â€“ Moby Arena hasnâ€™t been home to this much talent since the 1990s.
Anything short of the NIT will be a disappointment.
Beat Brigham Young
Since Miles took over the CSU program, the Rams have defeated all MWC opponents at least once, with the exception of San Diego State, New Mexico and BYU. With the Aztecs and Lobos, CSU at least remained competitive, but with the Cougars, the Rams are averaging 0-6 with an average point margin of 25.67.
This trend must end this season by sending BYU off to the West Coast Conference with its first loss to CSU since Jan. 20, 2007.
Coach, you said that if a school doesnâ€™t want to be part of the MWC, you donâ€™t want them there. Itâ€™s time to show the Cougars they wonâ€™t be missed.
Free throw efficiency
Down the stretch of a conference season, games are won or lost at the free throw line. Unfortunately, last season, the Rams shot a combined .676 at the charity stripe, smack dab in the middle of the MWC â€“ which is also where CSU finished in the overall league standings.
There is no need to call out any single player for poor performance at the line, as eight members of last yearâ€™s team finished the season connecting on less than 70 percent of their attempts, but had the Rams been more efficient, you could easily argue there would be at least three more wins in the record book.
Coach Miles, Iâ€™d like you to please step to the side now as I call to the stand your two senior big men, Mr. Ogide and Mr. Franklin.
Mr. Franklin, since your 22-point, 10-rebound performance in a dominating win over in-state rival CU-Boulder where the CSU student section rushed the court and had you crowd surf, youâ€™ve been a fan favorite. I had no hesitation calling you the Ramsâ€™ MVP from last season. But if you can be more consistent in your play, the sky is the limit.
Mr. Ogide, I feel you are the key for this teamâ€™s success. Your blocked shots and monster dunks bring more energy to Moby Arena than anyone else, but your presence is often limited. Though you only fouled out four times, including the bogus ejection in the MWC Championships against SDSU, foul trouble often has you riding the pine. Your team needs you on the floor, so play smart.
You can also do us a favor by averaging a double-double. Youâ€™re more than capable.
If your team, Coach Miles, can accomplish these feats within the next five months, I have no problem calling CSU one of college basketballâ€™s rising programs.
Your trial begins Tuesday, with an exhibition game against Regis.
Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.