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Colorado State vs. Metro State Exhibition Preview

October 26, 2012

So the season is finally upon us!

And it begins In the form of an exhibition game with Metro State University out of Denver.

Exhibitions are different animals in the sense that they don’t count as part of a team’s record. And players can participate without any affect on a possible redshirt. But they are real games played with real officials, not glorified scrimmages.

Other big programs have already played exhibitions this season.

Future CSU opponent Wahington opened the other night against the defending Division 2 National Champions Western Washington University. And last years PAC-12 regular season champs were in a dogfight for 35 minutes before they finally pulled away to win by 10. Pre-season 18th ranked Baylor played Abilene Christian last night and pulled away to an easy win after 10 minutes. Western Washington continues their tour with a road game against Duke at Cameron on Saturday.

So why are these game’s important?

I think a couple of quotes from a pair of high-profile freshmen at Baylor give you an idea.

First, from Rico Gathers. “… it was a new experience for me. When you see the same faces every day at practice you get used to their tendencies and stuff, but when you see a new team they play you a whole lot different. It was definitely an adjustment at the beginning.”

And from Isaac Austin “Yeah, we started clicking a little better. We started talking more. We started playing with our hands a little more. We have to work on our closeouts a little more, but other than that I thought we played pretty well.”

These two are kids who have logged a million minutes on the basketball court. But when it’s a new season, it’s a new team no matter how many people are back from the previous year. And the exhibition season is just the start of the process by which a collection of players tries to become an effective and winning team over the course of a long season.

And so it begins for the Colorado State University Rams under new head coach Larry Eustachy. Many of the players will be the same but the team will be different. Out is the Tim Miles trademark motion offense and pack-line defense. In is the higher pressure defensive tactics, pounding the glass, and fast transition offense of Eustachy.

And the start will be against a solid D-2 squad in Metro State who finished 5th last season in the NCAA D-2 Tournament. They are a program used to post-season success. Numerous trips to the NCAA Tourney including a pair of national championships in 2000 and 2002. The highest winning percentage all time of any school at the d-2 level.

The Roadrunners return 4 starters from last years squad and are a Pre-season Top 5 team in the polls. They are led by senior center Jonathan Morse who is a Pre-season All-American after averaging 13 points and 9 rebounds last season. They have a pair of guards that averaged double figures last season, and a pair of Aussies including redshirt Mitch McCarron who played on the Australia Under-19 National Team alongside MWC players Hugh Greenwood (UNM) and Anthony Dmric (Boise State).

In short, a very solid foe.

But the game is more about the Rams right now and here are the things I’ll be watching closely on Sunday.

The debut of a pair of bigs – Colton Iverson will play his first game in a Ram uniform. Lots of experience as a 5th year senior but I’ll be watching to see if his role will be more than defending the paint and grabbing boards. Will he be able to be enough of a threat in the low block to command a double team and create space for shooters like Wes Eikmeier and Dorian Green? The second big is newcomer Gerson Santo, a lanky Brazilian. I want to see if Santo can provide defensive presence off the bench and be enough of an offensive threat that teams will have to play him honestly. One thing is for sure. It’ll be nice to see someone taller than 6’6″ wearing a Ram uniform.

Jon Octeus as a viable replacement for Jesse Carr – Make no mistake about it. The loss of Carr for the season was a big blow to the Rams. Jesse could deliver a big hoop, a big rebound, a big assist off the bench night in and night out. Newcomer Octeus will be force fed to deliver in a similar role. I don’t expect him to be Jesse Carr right away. I do think his development will be key to the Ram’s success this season.

How the usual suspects look in Eustachy’s system – I expect Dorian Green, Wes Eikmeier, Greg Smith, and Pierce Hornung to join Iverson in the starting line-up. And Dwight Smith to get significant minutes off the bench. I want to see if they can defend as a unit like the coach expects. And I want to see if they can really push the ball up the floor consistently to get some early and easy offense. It’s easier said than done.

What the other newcomers bring – Early reports on freshmen Jordan Mason and Joe DeCiman are good. One of them may be thrust into the mix a little sooner than expected due to the Carr injury. I’ll be watching Daniel Bejarano very closely. He hasn’t played much in almost two years and I expect there to be some rust. That being said, I’ll be watching to see if he can do what Kaipo Sabas did for the Rams last year coming off the bench and scoring. Make no mistake about it. Bejarano is far more talented than Sabas. I want to see if it can be meshed within the framework of Eustachys system.

I make no predictions about exhibition games. I expect the Rams to win every time they take the floor. I will be shocked if this one comes easy.

Hope to see you pikers there!

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