CSU basketball appears revamped under interim head coach Jase Herl

Austin White

A strong foundation is needed for any team if they want to succeed. Everything from the game plan to the coaches to the players needs to be on the same page and in sync.

After riding a coaching carousel for the past 10 days, the Colorado State men’s basketball team is ready to find stable footing. Jase Herl has officially taken the title of interim head coach at the ripe old age of 30 years and he wants to establish some normalcy back into the team.

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Herl raises arms
Colorado State interim head coach Jase Herl reacts to a call during the first half against San Jose state. (Davis Bonner | Collegian)

“We are going along as business as usual,” Herl said “Still talk to a majority of the guys daily, they are coming up through the office, I wander down to the locker room to get snacks and catch them down there sleeping on the couch or watching TV. Just wanting to keep everything as normal as we can.”

The past two Saturdays have come with news of the Rams getting a different head coach hours before a game. Two weeks ago it was Larry Eustachy placed on leave before the game with Nevada, followed by Steve Barnes last Saturday before the San Jose State matchup.

In the midst of all the questions and craziness surrounding the coaching changes, the players lost sight of what mattered most when they play the game: having fun. That was the message Herl sent before the Rams’ win over SJSU Saturday and it continues to be what the Goodland, Kan. native preaches.

“You want to carry that over, that energy (from the game against San Jose State),” Herl said. “As a whole, the guys have come in here excited, ready to go and playing with a lot of energy in practice and talking.”

Herl began his coaching career at his alma mater, Colorado Mesa University, where he was an assistant for a year. After that one year, he became a head coach in his home town at Northwest Kansas Technical College for three years. During his time, he coached the school’s first ever player to transfer to a NCAA Division I team in former Ram Gian Clavell.

Prior to joining the CSU staff two years ago, Herl was an assistant at South Plains College in Texas which has become a hot spot for transfers for CSU as Emmanuel Omogbo, Che Bob and Raquan Mitchell have all come to Fort Collins from South Plains.

“He’s been here for two years and I think he is very good and well coached,” center Nico Carvacho said about Herl. “He’s kind of like a player’s coach, but he’s also going to be hard on us and make sure we are getting what we need to get done.”

As for his coaching style, Herl is still developing on what exactly that is, but his immediate impact has forced a little more conditioning out of the players. “Go” appears to be his favorite word as he blurted that out several times during the media access time of the Rams’ practice Wednesday morning.

“That’s how I grew up playing, that’s how a lot of these guys grew up playing basketball was just run and gun,” junior guard Prentiss Nixon said on the change of pace. “You see a shot you like, you take it.”

“I think I scored like three or four times when I ran the court (against SJSU),” Carvacho said. “17 (fast-break) points, that helps a lot with easy points.”

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Pace of play will be the biggest on-court change that fans will see out of the Rams during Herl’s time, but the largest difference might be the player’s attitude. Practice seemed more like a group of guys hanging out with friendly trash talk being thrown around and playful shouts of excitement after a made shot.

“It’s day-to-day with these guys and we want them to have fun,” Herl said. “It’s been a long year for these guys and everybody goes through the ups and downs and those type of things. This year might be a little unique compared to others, but if you guys were around these guys all the time, they’ve always got energy, almost to the point where it’s too much at times.”

After enduring a seven-game losing streak prior to their win over SJSU, a change in attitude and tempo for the Rams seems to make sense. If a team is losing, something has to change and the team hopes that this newly established focus on relaxing and playing the game like they did when they were kids can help them cause damage come Mountain West tournament time.

“At this point we are just planning to make a run, make a run in that tournament,” Nixon said. “We still come in here and take care of business and be serious when we have to, but we want to be out there and have as much fun as we can while doing it.”

Collegian sports reporter Austin White can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ajwrules44.