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Colorado State 70 – Regis 69

November 4, 2013

That was the score.

And while its nice to have your team end up on the good side of the score, that wasn’t the story.

The story was that Colorado State introduced a brand new squad to their fans. Sure there were a few holdovers like Daniel Bejarano, Jon Octeus, Gerson Santo, Dwight Smith, and Joe DeCiman. None of whom came close to approaching starter’s minutes last season.

But the rest were new.

JJ Avila, David Cohn, Carlton Hurst, and Marcus Holt joining the other five in what might be best categorized as a chemistry experiment at this point.

And make no mistake about it. The challenge for Coach Larry Eustachy and staff is to develop the proper chemistry to play winning basketball on both ends of the floor. The strength of the team in the last few years was that the whole was far greater than the sum of the parts. They had played countless games in a variety of situations together and they knew how to trust each other. On offense that might have meant making the extra pass to get an even better shot. On defense, it might have been the communication to make a teammate more aware of what was going on.

This year’s team is not close to being there yet. And that is expected.

But the beauty of basketball and the potential beauty of this year’s team is that we as fans will get to watch a team that has some pretty fair albeit green talent grow over the course of 30 games over 4 months. And ask ourselves whether they’re good enough to return to the NCAA’s for the 3rd consecutive year, whether its an NIT bid or lower tournament like the CBI in the cards, or whether post-season play is a complete fantasy right now.

So strap on the seat belts Ram fans. It promises to be a lot of fun.

A few observations from the game on Saturday…

JJ Avila is very good. He can score, he can board, he can handle the ball and set up others off the bounce. He’s a tough guy to defend at 6’7″ and 230 pounds. As he goes right now, so go the Rams. He was on the floor for all 40 minutes against Regis. I cant recall ever seeing that out of any player in an exhibition. To his credit, he was the best player on the floor for all 40 of them.

Daniel Bejarano and Jon Octeus were inconsistent. They will need to produce a lot more on the offensive end of the floor if the Rams don’t want to suffer scoring droughts.

Gerson Santo and Marcus Holt will not be go to scorers in the low block but they do have the ability to finish at the rim, clog up the lane defensively, and get a few rebounds. Santo still shows uncanny ability to draw offensive fouls.

Joe DeCiman started and to be honest he didn’t look very good. He seems to be more comfortable hanging on the perimeter than attacking the rim on the offensive end. When he attacked, it was pretty awkward. Dwight Smith came in for Joe and only played 6 minutes before he was clipped by a Regis player diving for a loose ball. These are two very good athletes who will need to do a lot more.

Both David Cohn and Carlton Hurst will need to contribute this year as freshmen with the team being a little short on depth. Cohn came in early and played 31 minutes and showed shooting touch and upperclassman savvy on both ends of the floor. Hurst played fewer minutes but was on the floor during the Rams late run which overcame a 10-point deficit. He made one play on a rebound where he rose about a foot above five other players contesting for the ball. The last time I saw that kind of athleticism out of a young player grabbing a rebound was Kawhi Leonard of SDSU a few years ago. Hurst is a little rugged offensively but he is fearless attacking the rim and he defends hard.

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