Team preview: Colorado State

For the most comprehensive previews available on all 335 Division I teams, order the "Bible" of college basketball, the 2012-13 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, at www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or call 1-877-807-4857.


In Larry Eustachy's four previous head-coaching jobs, he took over programs that needed major work. Southern Miss, his last whistle stop, was no exception, and after two losing seasons in his first two years he led the Golden Eagles to three straight 20-win seasons and to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2011-12.

Thanks to the fine work of former coach Tim Miles, who parlayed it into the top job at Nebraska, Eustachy takes over a Colorado State program coming off its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2003 and just the fourth time it made the tournament since 1989. The Rams return three starters and five seniors from the squad that won 20 games, including one of the most productive backcourts in the Mountain West.

"If you think about it, the last few jobs I had they weren't in great shape. This isn't the case. We need to keep it going," Eustachy said.

"What Tim Miles did here was unbelievable. A lot of times you take over and you have six or seven guys who don't want to play but you have to play them. We don't have that. We have a lot of good players. I love the guys. I don't know how good they are yet.

Colorado State Rams

"The big thing for me is kids can win, but it takes men to win on the road. Our road record (3-9) was awful last year. We need to win road games -- that's the bottom line. We have a lot of mature guys and a lot of good guys."

Miles left Eustachy a wealth of talent. It starts with a trio of senior guards: 6-3 Wes Eikmeier (15.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.1 apg), 6-2 Dorian Green (13.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.5 apg) and 6-2 Jesse Carr (7.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.6 apg).

Eikmeier, an Iowa State transfer who will be a three-year starter, was a first-team All-Mountain West selection, led the team in scoring and shot 37 percent from 3-point range. He led CSU in scoring 16 times last season, and score 20 or more points nine times.

Green has started every game of his career, which stands at 96. He was an honorable mention All-Mountain West pick and is the 19th player in school history to score more than 1,000 points. Green led the squad in assists in 2011-12, and was second in steals.

Carr was one of the better freshmen in the league, but a hip injury entering his sophomore season derailed some of his progress. But he played in every game last season and shot 43 percent from 3-point range.

"I think it starts and ends with guard play, and these guys are older and can play multiple positions," Eustachy said. "All can play the point. They're talented. I think they can go into some places and win at places a lot of people can't. They have a lot of great qualities: They're safe with the ball. They can shoot. When you can shoot you can be dangerous."

As a team CSU shot a Mountain West-best 40 percent from 3-point range last season.

At 6-4, junior Dwight Smith (5.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg) gives the Rams a bigger and more athletic guard. Sophomore Daniel Bejarano sat out last season after transferring from Arizona, where he played sparingly as a freshman. Bejarano was ranked as the 40th-best high school prospect in the nation by one recruiting analyst, and the 13th-best shooting guard in the country by another.

Eustachy signed 6-4 Jonathan Octeus from Wabash Valley (Ill.) College, who will have three years of eligibility. He shot 37 percent from 3 last season. In the early signing period before Miles left, he signed 6-2 true freshman Jordan Mason from Ennis, Texas. Regarded as one of the top prospects in the state, Mason averaged 20.7 points per game as a senior. Joe De Ciman, a 6-4 prospect from Regina, Saskatchewan, is another true freshman, but with the Rams loaded in the backcourt it may be difficult for those guys to see a lot of play-ing time this season.

Any coach in the Mountain West will say a big factor in the Rams' recent success was due to the play of 6-5 senior forward Pierce Hornung (8.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg). Hornung is considered the Rams' glue guy, and despite his lack of size, he led the team in rebounding last year. Eustachy knew all that when he took the job. His Southern Miss team was the only one that beat CSU at home last season, and Hornung didn't play in that game.

Hornung battled a back injury during the summer, and Eustachy said the worst-case scenario would be to redshirt him this season.

"It's a concern of mine, and we still don't know what it is," he said. "When some guys say they're hurt, they're really hurt and this is one of those cases. He only knows one speed, which is a rarity these days. His motor runs constantly. He's just one of those guys that has all the intangibles."

Senior forward Greg Smith (9.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Dwight's older brother, is solid, and what he lacks in height at 6-6 he makes up for with speed and athleticism.

Eustachy went to the junior college ranks to find the best big man he could find in 6-9 Gerson Santo from the College of Southern Idaho. The Brazil native averaged 7.4 points and four rebounds in his two seasons at CSI, which went 64-9 and won the 2011 NJCAA championship. Santo also had scholarship offers from Illinois and Washington State.

Another transfer Miles landed before the left is 6-10, 261-pound senior forward/center Colton Iverson, who started his career at Minnesota. He made the All-Big Ten Tournament team as a sophomore, and Eustachy joked when he said the reason Hornung's back is hurt was because he had to try and defend Iverson in practice last year.

"Guys like that are hard to find," Eustachy said. He's a wants to get better and works hard. Time will tell."

Junior 7-footer Trevor Williams also returns, but he averaged just 6.6 minutes in 14 games last season.






Eustachy previous head-coaching jobs were at Southern Miss, Iowa State, Utah State and Idaho. He says this is best job he's ever had. Fort Collins is a place he and his family have always wanted to live, and he also said this will be his last job.

"The stamp I want to leave it to take this place somewhere it's never been, which is a Final Four," he said. "I really believe we can do that. They're making a huge commitment to football and basketball here, which means money. I want it to be like Gonzaga, and it can, but there is a lot of work to do."

There might be a lot of work to do to get the Rams were Eustachy ultimately wants to take them, but if this squad buys into what he wants, there's a good chance for another upper-half finish in the league and the program's second straight NCAA tournament appearance, which hasn't happened since the mid 1960s.

For the most comprehensive previews available on all 335 Division I teams, order the "Bible" of college basketball, the 2012-13 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, at www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or call 1-877-807-4857.