There aren’t many things Colorado State guards Joe De Ciman and Carlton Hurst have in common.
De Ciman hails from Saskatchewan, Canada while Hurst hails from Aurora, Colo.
De Ciman was known as a scoring machine in high school where he had games of 48 and 52 points during his senior year, respectively, while Hurst, who was no slouch averaging 24.5 points per game his senior year, was best-known as a YouTube dunking sensation. Just type in “Carlton Hurst dunk” into your preferred search engine and you can see for yourself.
But despite those and many other differences, Hurst and De Ciman carry one very crucial similarity – their importance to the Colorado State men’s basketball team’s success.
And while their numbers don’t explode off of a stat sheet, the duo’s contributions go much deeper than the numbers. An example of their importance was on display in Saturday’s 82-67 blowout win over rival Wyoming. With standout forward J.J. Avila in foul trouble for much of the game, head coach Larry Eustachy was forced to look for other sources of offense while Avila played less than 30 minutes for only the sixth time this season.
Enter Hurst and De Ciman.
The duo picked up the slack in a huge way, combining for 23 points on 9 of 11 shooting, including four 3-pointers from De Ciman and four key late-game free throws from Hurst to extend the Ram lead back into double digits.
“(Those performances) are exactly what we have to have to win,” Eustachy said. “We haven’t had a lot of depth with Dwight (Smith) getting hurt and we lost Jesse (Carr) before the year even started. It’s a long season and guys like J.J. (Avila) and Daniel (Bejarano) have logged a lot of minutes and it’s huge to be able to bring other guys in and not have a big drop-off.”
But for both parts of the dynamic duo, Eustachy’s trust wasn’t always this easy to come by.
After opening the year as a starter, De Ciman struggled during the first month of the season, recording just three double-digit scoring efforts in the Rams’ first ten games. As a player that Eustachy believes is “too hard on himself,” De Ciman was unable to find confidence early in the season before eventually finding his groove when the calendar turned to December, posting three double-digit scoring outputs in the Rams’ next four games.
“I think it really started with coaches just giving me confidence, from Coach Eustachy to all the assistants,” De Ciman said. “But I’ve got to give credit to my teammates, too, everybody on this team is unselfish and understands that we need everyone to play well if we want to win.”
For Hurst, it simply came down to learning what he could and couldn’t do on the college level. Unlike high school, Hurst couldn’t simply blow past defenders for easy dunks. He also wasn’t the focal point of the offense, something that can be difficult to deal with for a four-year varsity letter winner who averaged 20.3 points per game in his high school career while putting up almost 1,400 field goal attempts. That meant adapting, learning what his limitations are, and also continuing to build on the strengths of his game.
“I’m at the point in the season now where I have plenty of experience and now it’s time to step up,” Hurst said. “I think a lot of it is just being more comfortable with the guys I’m playing with and understanding what I can and can’t do on this level. When I started to figure that out, everything was just fine.”
And while the Rams will continue to need strong performances from their “Big Three” of Avila, Bejarano, and Jon Octeus, the key to a possible late-season run through the end of the regular season and into the conference tournament likely lies on the shoulders of De Ciman, Hurst, and reserve guard Dwight Smith.
“Depth and solid play by the guys providing depth really helps out our chances of winning games,” Eustachy said. “It’s huge to be able to give guys like JJ and Daniel a break when they need one, because I think we’ve lost a few games from those guys being so fatigued. At times we’ve only had seven healthy guys so those guys are absolutely important for our success going forward.”
Collegian Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @kpopecollegian.
Joe De Ciman Bio:
Height: 6′ 4″
Hometown: Saskatchewan, Canada
Birthday: March 30th, 1994
Stats: 8.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg
Major: Health and Exercise Science
Carlton Hurst Bio:
Hometown: Aurora, Colo.
Birthday: November 23rd, 1994
Stats: 4.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Major: Health and Exercise Science