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It’s Only July and I’m Starting to Get Excited About CSU Men’s Hoops in 2019-20

July 3, 2019

Want to know what got me kickstarted?

First it was getting a chance to spend some time on the golf course with Coach Niko Medved and Director of Basketball Operations Aaron Katsuma.

We had a chance to talk about all things CSU basketball. I heard about what was going on with scheduling, learned about the new recruits, and got to know both Niko and Aaron better.

The first thing that excited me was learning that CSU has scheduled a November game at Duke. I went home and informed my wife to get to work booking the trip to Durham. Not only is she a great basketball fan but she is expert at finding great deals.

Needless to say, the trip has been booked.

The next step was to figure out a way to stop by a CSU practice. NCAA rules have changed in recent years and now allow team practices in the summer. I wanted to get a look at the returning players and the incoming freshmen and of course say hello. So I managed to make it to a practice at Moby earlier this week.

I stepped into Moby right as practice was starting and was immediately greeted by former Ram player and current Graduate Assistant Joe De Ciman. Joe hails from Canada so I wished him Happy Canada Day and was pointed to some folding chairs where I could observe at floor level. Niko walked by and asked me if I wanted to suit up because of the injuries limiting the number of bodies.

Of course there were the familiar faces of returning players Nico Carvacho, Adam Thistlewood, Kris Martin, Kendle Moore, and Hyron Edwards.

Carvacho is coming off a brilliant season where he led the nation in rebounding, became CSUs alltime leader in rebounding on his was to All-MWC First Team Honors. He is currently recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff. Two months of rehab was tough but he’s now on the court working drills.

Thistlewood and Martin are the on-court veterans now. Thistlewood had a great freshman season where he led the MWC in Effective FG%. Martin worked his way into the starting lineup and became an important glue player. Both of them looked bigger and stronger from the previous season. As the players spread around the gym for shooting drills, I had Adam and Kris right in front on me and neither disappointed as they rained in all kinds of three-balls. Thistlewood got the better in a 1-minute shooting drill but Martin was a killer in a 2-minute drill.

Both Moore and Edwards are working through injuries and did not participate in practice.

I looked around for the freshmen. The first thing that stood out was how Division 1 ready they are physically. These are not skinny, developmental players. They are broad-shouldered with big frames. David Roddy, a SF from Minnesota checked in at 6’5″ and 254 lbs. Dischon Thomas is 6’9″ and built powerfully. SG John Tonje is 6’5″ with a big frame. G Isaiah Stevens is 5’11” but solid as well.

The reality is that they are freshmen, new to the college game. The other reality is that they will all have the ability to contribute this season. And they look to have the physical attributes to compete immediately.

After some offensive drills and individual drills, the team split into 4 on 4 halfcourt scrimmaging. Green team of Kris Martin, David Roddy, Isaiah Stevens, and JUCO walk-on Kyle Lukasiewicz. Gold Team of Adam Thistlewood, Dischon Thomas, John Tonje, and Coach JR Blount. 5-point games. Loser runs win sprints.

The Green team won every game and Kris Martin killed it, scoring inside and out, grabbing rebounds, leading.

After the last game, Martin’s did something that leaders do. He ran the sprints with the Gold team. And ran them faster than anyone.

Freshman John Tonje was sent to the free throw line with the opportunity to end practice if he made a pair of free throws. He converted.

I talked with a bunch of players and coaches after practice. John Tonje came over and introduced himself. Nico Carvacho stopped by to say hello. I talked a bunch with Kendle Moore and Adam Thistlewood. Got some great insight from Niko Medved on a variety of topics and then spent some time with Coach Dave Thorson and his wife talking about the dog they had just lost.

One of the great things about college basketball is that teams renew themselves annually with players graduating and freshman arriving.

This freshman class is the most talented class in recent years, up there with the Dorian Green, Pierce Hornung, Greg Smith class of 2009. They will have the opportunity to bring CSU to the top of the MWC and compete nationally. There is so much to look forward to as a fan.

But then there’s the sentimental part of me that realizes that 2019-20 will be our last season with Kris Martin, Hyron Edwards, and Nico Carvacho.

Carvacho is probably the most underrated player at CSU in the past 20 years. He has quietly stormed his way to the top of the all-time rebounding list at CSU. He is tenacious at the rim and very underrated as a distributor of the ball.

And he is a Ram.

I am sure opportunities were presented to him to transfer to a higher profile school but he has chosen to stay in Fort Collins and leave behind a large legacy. By the time he is through he will have absolutely shattered all kinds of individual records. And if the freshmen can develop quickly into contributors, Carvacho will be the guy that we will all look back on as the one who turned CSUs fortunes around.

I will be dedicated to spending more time sharing my insights via this blog this season. Part of it is because of the trajectory that Coach Medved and staff have the program headed. It’s easier to write when the subject matter is of such high quality. But a bigger part of it is that I owe it to a player like Nico Carvacho who gives his heart and soul every night.

I can’t wait for November to roll around!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Ben permalink
    July 3, 2019 6:16 pm

    Thank you for sharing! Any tips on finding deals for the Duke trip?

    • July 3, 2019 6:21 pm

      We’re flying into Charlotte on American. Two hour drive to Durham. Frontier flies cheaply to Raleigh Durham but are unreliable. We booked a hotel in Chapel Hill for $100 a night that is decent. Book a room as fast as possible. Duke hosts Notre Dame in football the next day after the game.

  2. Chris permalink
    July 4, 2019 2:19 am

    Great summary Swoll. Did you get any insight as to whether Medved will strictly play a 4guard 1 post lineup? Having looked at Moors highlights he seems to rarely play down low so I am wondering if will be a post as CSU or play the 4.

    • July 4, 2019 4:45 am

      I think The current offense is built to use Carvacho as best as possible which involves getting him the ball down low. In the long run I think they’ll want bigs who pick and pop and keep the lane open for guards to penetrate and dish. Moors does appear to be more of a perimeter 4.

      Roddy is going to be an interesting player. He is very agile for a guy with that body. Niko wants him to lose a little weight from the 254 he reported at. But it’s not like he’s fat.

      Thistlewood will be improved this year but I think he is a year away from being a great player. He’s finally over 200 pounds. He’ll be a monster at 220 with the way he shoots the ball.

      I really think the key this year will be PJ Byrd getting a waiver. I like Hyron but he’s way too undependable due to injury. Byrd needs work on his offensive game but he will be a reliable defender and ballhandler. Isaiah Stevens will be good but I would hate for him to be the only guard coming off the bench; that’s a lot for a freshman.

  3. Jim permalink
    July 6, 2019 5:13 pm

    Swoll, Thanks for the insights. I have called the CSU Ticket Office regarding tickets for the game but they weren’t sure if they were going to receive an allotment of tickets. Besides looking at stubhub, seatgeek, etc… any other recommendations? I got my hotel, airfare, and going to the ND game with my son for the ultimate boys weekend.

    • July 6, 2019 6:45 pm

      I get my tickets from a buddy of mine who was K’s team surgeon several years ago. CSU’s allotment will go to players, coaches, and high roller boosters. Your best bet will be 3rd parties like Stubhub

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