The Rams are returning four starters from last year’s home opener into the game tonight at 7 p.m. MT, but the complexion of the Rams as a whole has changed dramatically from last season.
The Rams’ five returning seniors and four transfers will be starting from square one, while playing in a new system that new coach Larry Eustachy has implemented in the offseason.
In order to prepare for the start of the regular season, the Rams have focused on keeping it simple on offense and playing physical defense in order to get opportunities for their scorers to ignite the offense on the other end of the floor.
“Eustachy’s system is pretty simple,”senior forward Colton Iverson said. “We still only have a couple sets really, just a press break and then we really rely on our defense. And that’s how we’re gonna win games this year, is really putting pressure on when we’re on defense and then the offense will just come to us naturally because we’ve got guys that can score.”
That defense will be challenged tonight by a Montana team that brings back three of its leading scorers from last year.
The Grizzlies return five upperclassmen from last season, including junior guard Kareem Jamar, who averaged 10.9 points per game last year and led the team in scoring against CSU a year ago, posting 12 points and five rebounds in a 64-58 loss to the Rams.
“Obviously some of their lead contributors (are) coming back this year. They’re playing bigger roles and they can be tough to stop,” CSU senior guard Wes Eikmeier said. “Our coaches are pretty adamant about how they finished the year, especially in the conference, 15-1, and returning most of their guys. So we understand that they’re bringing a really quality team here.”
The Rams have stressed that the depth of their team, thanks to the addition of transfers, will serve the team well, and tonight’s game provides those players the chance to get back on the court. Something they haven’t been able to do in a year because of NCAA transfer rules.
“Excited doesn’t really describe how I really feel about it,” Iverson said. “It’s great that it’s finally here because I’ve been waiting over a year for this since I transferred from Minnesota, and now it’s finally here. It’s time to leave it all on the floor.”
Men’s basketball Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at email@example.com.