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The 2013 Mens Hoops Banquet

May 7, 2013

The annual banquet for the Mens’ Basketball team was held on Friday May 3rd at the Lory Student Center with nearly 300 people in attendance.

300 people.

Several years ago the basketball banquet was like a team dinner.

Like the cherry on the top of a chocolate sundae, the banquet put closure on the career of 5 seniors who put basketball on the national stage in their years at Colorado State.

The event was emceed by radio play-by-play man Brian Roth who did an outstanding job leading the celebration.

Early on in the program, Roth brought up the question of whether this was the reatest team in the history of Colorado State. And he laid out the case with the following:

– 26 wins, the most ever in a single season
– 81 wins over 4 years, tying the most ever in a four-year period
– 4 consecutive post-season appearances, a first for CSU
– an 11-5 conference record, earning a 2nd place finish in a tough MWC
– a visit to the NCAA Round of 32, losing to eventual champ Louisville
– a school record 27-game home winning streak

Sure a case could be made for several teams in the 50’s, 60’s, and 80’s, but when Roth turned to Gary Ozzello, senior Assistant AD, Ozzello responded with a resounding “Yes” when confronted iwth the question of Greatest Team Ever.

Jack Graham spoke about the Bold New Era and reinforced how this team was a showcase for what he expects from CSU Athletics in terms of academic performance, citizenship, and on-field performance. He was especially proud of the Ram Tag program which rewards student-athletes with dog tags every semester for academic performance and mentioned players like Joe DeCiman, Wes Eikmeier, Dorian Green, and Jesse Carr receiving them for the Fall Semester.

Then it was on to dinner and then the real show began as one by one, Roth introduced the 5 seniors, who each came to the podium to say a few words.

The common theme throughout was an expression of love for their teammates, for their coach, and for their school. It was something we as fans were able to witness countless times at Moby over their years, this time in words, not action.

It was a celebration of the highest order with some humor mixed in.

Wes Eikmeier teased Jesse Carr about the fact that he hosted all 5 seniors on their campus visits and yet he will still have one more year to play. Dorian Green thanked Eikmeier for being his fashion consultant and reminding him that he didnt need to wear a belt if he wore suspenders.

But the best jab of all was at former coach Tim Miles nd was delivered by Dorian Green.

Green recalled when Miles visited him at home and said that together they would et to the NCAA Tournament and win when they got there. To which Dorian replied “But coach, you lost every game in the MWC two years ago and won like 7 games last year.”

And when Green spoke with Miles a few days before the banquet, they tyalked about that livin room meeting. And Miles said something like “It took me leaving, for you guys to reach the goal on winning in the tournament.”

To which Green replied, “Maybe you should have left a year sooner coach.”

Several other themes emerged from their talks. Gratitude to all of their teammates including the underclassmen. A profound for love for their head coach Larry Eustachy, who EIkmeier gave credit for shaping them into men. And a theme that this is just the start of something big for Ram Basketball.

Pierce Hornung was reluctant to call this team the greatest of all time. But he was able to say that when he comes back in 10 years that he hopes they are remembered as the 7th or 8th best team of all time, but the one that got it all started.

And then it was on to Coach Eustachy who closed with his dry humor and passion.

First he thanked Tony Frank and Jack Graham for hiring him. And then he thanked the University of Nebraska.

He teased Jesse Carr about always having hot college girls chasing him, saying “I thought I outkicked my coverage but even more for you.”

He told a story about Colton Iverson and his weight, about how he got Wes Eikmeier to commit to playing defense, about Pierce Hornung’s love of all things Colorado State.

And then he talked poignantly about Greg Smith and his reputation as a problem child. He said, “If Greg Smith is a problem child, I’d take 10 problem children just like him.

He teased Dorian Green about being outfitted in bow tie and suspenders and said he would finish speaking by 9:00PM so that Dorian wouldnt have to pay another day on the rental.

He teased some of the players who will be returning, but then casually mentioned that they were playing the seniors very tough in intra-squad games of late.

And then Larry Eustachy went on to call the 2012-13 Colorado State Rams his greatest team ever.

Imagine that.

He had been on a staff that was one shot away from upsetting the 1990 UNLV team that went on to win the national championship.

He had coached a team at Iowa State that was 4 minutes away from a Final Four before losing down the stretch to Michigan State.

And yet he called this team his best!

And it was because of the unselfishness, the dedication to getting better in practice, the willingness of each player to understand his role with the team even if it meant very little court time. Not just the 5 seniors. But kids like Daniel Bejarano who parlayed his role as 6th man into the MWC 6th Man of the Year Award. And Jon Octeus and Gerson Santo, who may have had more minutes elsewhere but came to CSU to learn the game. Or Joe DeCiman who stepped up at Nevada in the absence of Pierce Hornung. And the others like Jordan Mason and Josh Morgan for making the team better.

It was praise of the highest order coming from a coach who has won at every stop in his illustrious career.

And very fitting.

And then the banquet was over.

And I’ll finish with something Brian Roth said to me when the show was over. He talked about how strange it will be to not see #22 take the floor when he broadcasts his first game next year.

I’ve got an idea.

How about a banner in Moby with the numbers 4, 10, 22, 44, and 45 on it to commemorate my favorite team ever.

That way they’ll always be in more than our hearts.

Post Scripts

I spoke a little with each of the seniors to find out their plans. Wes Eikmeier is going to give it a shot in Europe. Dorian Green has thought of playing professionally but was offered an Assistant Coaching position at Furman and will accept it. Pierce Hornung isn’t sure what his next steps are. Colton Iverson was getting ready for a workout with the Lakers in preparation for the NBA Draft.

And then I talked a little with the guys that are the core of next year’s team. Jesse Carr is starting to play some pick-up basketball, not quite at full speed yet.

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