LOUISVILLE, Ky. â€” Experience, motivation and depth. Those are probably the three most important things for the CSU basketball team as it moves toward the 2012-13 season.
For the first time since 2003, the Rams made the NCAA Tournament in 2011-12, and as fans look to next season, it appears that the team should be better than ever.
â€œWeâ€™ve got a lot of guys that are coming back next year,â€ guard Dorian Green said. â€œWe just have to continue to get better and learn from these experiences and these opportunities weâ€™ve had and keep building.â€
CSU loses only two players to graduation: forward Will Bell and guard Kaipo Sabas, and 82 percent of the points that were scored this season will be on the roster come next fall.
Additionally, the Rams have two transfers and two already-signed commits coming into the fold, adding depth in much-needed areas.
First, the transfers. CSU adds some size in 6-foot-10 center Colton Iverson, who has one year of eligibility remaining after coming to Fort Collins from the University of Minnesota.
He was clearly the best big in practices this year and will likely step into a starting role immediately and finally give the Rams a legitimate big man.
Also possibly stepping into the starting lineup is 6-foot-4 Daniel Bejarano, who transferred after playing one season at the University of Arizona. Bejarano was rated a four-star recruit out of high school and brings electric athleticism and a deadly jump shot to the court.
Two incoming freshmen may also help add depth in size and scoring.
Jermaine Morgan, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Chicago, Ill. has already signed with the Rams, as has shooting guard Jordan Mason. The 6-foot-2 Mason, from Ennis, Texas, is listed as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com.
And if the Rams see significant growth from any of Cody Mann, Trevor Williams or Chad Calcaterra â€” three players who saw limited action this year â€” then the 2012-13 team could be the reverse of this seasonâ€™s team: deep.
Instead of being in constant fear that foul trouble or an injury could sabotage it, CSU will have many different options in how to play. For the first time in a while, coach Tim Miles will be able to use a â€œbigâ€ lineup if he chooses. Or he will still be able to go small on teams and try and run the floor.
On top of that, the Rams will have something that you canâ€™t see, but is instrumental to success: experience.
Following their loss to Murray State in the NCAA Tournament, the players felt like it was a huge advantage to the Racers that they had seen the bright lights of the Big Dance. It showed on the court. In the second half of a 58-41 loss, CSU looked like a team that was stunned by the big stage.
The players admitted as much afterward, and said that they think having been there will be big as they try and make it back, and further, next year.
â€œItâ€™s invaluable I think, this experience,â€ guard Wes Eikmeier said. â€œâ€¦ Weâ€™re going to put this in the back of our minds and use it as motivation for next year. Itâ€™s a good learning experience for sure.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wes Eikmeier: 31 games started, 15.6 ppg (led team)
Dorian Green: 31 games started, 13.5 ppg (2nd on team)
Daniel Bejarano: Transfer from Arizona. Former four-star recruit
Colton Iverson: Transfer from Minnesota. 6-foot-10 center.