Zahlmann: Medved must let go of bad eggs in CSU’s recruitment process

Luke Zahlmann

A new coach, new philosophy and an opportunity to clean up the mess that plagued the Colorado State men’s basketball team for much of last season 

A coaching staff in flux has given way to sign of solidarity with the hiring of new head coach Niko Medved and the implementation of a system free of the trends that drove the program into a crater. The first step of the process: re-recruitment.

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players sit
The CSU men’s basketball team watches as athletic director Joe Parker and the new basketball Niko Medved field questions during a press conference Friday morning. (Davis Bonner | Collegian)

Medved will now be faced with the unenviable task of convincing players from last year’s roster to find their spot on the newest iteration of Rams’ basketball. The players that Medved selects should fall into broad criteria expected out of any player playing on a scholarship for their university, an expectation of not quitting midway through games.

Many alumni, fans and media around the program bared witness to what can only be defined as a failure to play until the final buzzer sounded. One of the most resounding examples of the failure to respectfully represent the institution was a home matchup against Boise State in which the Rams were slaughtered 87-54 in front of their own fans.

A 50-29 deficit going into the half, with the second half serving as a virtual exhibition for the visiting Broncos, gave light to a team that quit on their interim coach and on those who have supported them.

Jase Herl was handed the keys to a minivan with a leaky tire and broken windshield and did his best to repair it before the season came to an end. The problem with Herl was that regardless of what he did, success was not going to be found with a team that already checked out.  

The act of quitting on their coach cost that coach an opportunity to be taken seriously for the candidacy, one that he deserved to be considered strongly for. Medved needs to make sure the same does not befall him and his staff.

The problem is not the players’ skill level itself as they have showed numerous times in the brightest of lights. Players like Nico Carvacho piling up double-doubles with ease, Prentiss Nixon showing flashes of the brilliance that former Ram Gian Clavell brought and Raquan Michell jumping higher than most humans can climb showed that each of the athletes on the team has the requisite skills to perform at a high level.

Athletes can be found in many areas though. Medved must decipher which players will give him their full effort and attention for 40 minutes a game, each game of their schedule.

What happened to the players last year was not all roses and sunshine. They were put into constant limbo with their head coaching situation, without even being informed of their coaches’ leave of absence prior to the general public finding out. That is on Joe Parker, a mistake that has been rectified by the Director of Athletics.

They in turn staged a boycott of a practice, a worthy measure for the injustice done to them by their leader’s leader, and an act that got their point into the limelight; mission accomplished. That, however, should have been the end of the sitting out.

Instead, many of the players on the team chose to make their point during the games, with their lack of effort on the floor being a glaring vindication of their commitment to the program.

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The next several weeks that draw into months for Medved need to involve a process of sifting out the players that showed a lack of effort in games and discussing the issue with each. If the conversation is met with confrontation, he has to be willing to let skilled players go for the sake of the program’s integrity, an aspect severely weakened in recent months.

The biggest step for a program is to admit their problems and fix them in a manner that may take time, but in the end will make the program stronger for having gone through it. Letting go of players that are unwilling to face adversity with their full effort, even if it lowers the team’s overall ceiling, is a measure that needs to be accepted by Ram fans and those around the program, even if next year fails to yield a champion.

Collegian sports reporter Luke Zahlmann can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @lukezahlmann.