Ali Farokhmanesh installs irreplaceable lessons as CSU assistant coach

Eddie Herz

Being coached by someone who recently played creates the illusion of a non-existent hierarchy. An illusion that solely benefits communication and development of productive relationships between the coach and his players.

Assistant Coach Ali Farokhmanesh fits the bid in his first season with Colorado State since coming over from Drake University with Head Coach Niko Medved.

Ad

Farokhmanesh instantly demonstrated his ability to connect with CSU players by putting what he learned from playing to work, developing a highly respected, well-liked stance on the coaching staff.

“I love coach, he is like a mentor,” redshirt junior guard Kris Martin said. “He is one of the closest mentors I’ve had on this staff. He has helped me since day one, been there for me, kept me in the gym. He is always inspiring. He has that experience too from being a player. It’s easy to relate to him, and he can relate to us.”

Prior to his five-year coaching tenure, Farokhmanesh endured a lengthy playing career. Upon transferring from a junior college, the former guard and 3-point specialist spent two seasons playing for Northern Iowa through 2010. Farokhmanesh played a crucial role in orchestrating back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the Panthers, including the program’s only Sweet 16 appearance during his senior year.

The former guard averaged 9.7 points per game in two years with UNI and shot over 37 percent from the deep. Farokhmanesh will be forever known as a Panther-legend because of his decisive 3-pointer against top-seeded Kansas in the 32nd round.

Not only does Farokhmanesh know what it takes to succeed in collegiate basketball, he knows precisely what goes into doing so at a mid-major program like Colorado State. The coach integrates his experiences as a player in his coaching methodology.

Man kneels on side of basketball court
Colorado State University’s head coach Niko Medved watches the game against Boise State on Jan. 29. The Rams fell to the Broncos 70-68. (Skyler Pradhan | Collegian)

Resulting from playing as a smaller, less-athletic guard compared, Farokhmanesh garnered an appreciation for detail. 

“Just the work ethic side of things and the one thing I learned as I went on was the details of things,” Farokhmanesh said. “There are too many kids that worry about the flashy things you do in workouts and what not. It is more about the tiny little details of these workouts … so you need to be detailed with every little thing to get an advantage.”

Following his collegiate career, Farokhmanesh bounced around Europe playing basketball. While he learned how to adjust to a much faster-paced game overseas, the former guard also started to gain a greater admiration for life.

In contrast to playing under scholarship, Farokhmanesh was “playing for (his) livelihood” and “(his) next paycheck” in Europe while his wife stayed in America. Though still playing, priorities beyond basketball settled in for Farokhmanesh.

Farokhmanesh found a balance between building a family and playing basketball when he realized there is more to life than the game. Not only does Farokhmanesh coach his players to improve on the court, but he also makes a concerted effort to help CSU players grow as individuals.

“We talk a lot. He has made me a much better person since he has gotten here, a much better player too,” redshirt junior guard Anthony Masinton-Bonner said. “We have gotten close during the offseason and season. It definitely carries over to life. He is always asking questions about life. It is more than basketball for him. That is what I like about him.”

Ad

The precise, often philosophical coach fits in nicely with the Rams in part to his friendly demeanor. Farokhmanesh has the power of shifting all ears to him when making a point. The assistant coach nitpicks disheartening circumstances for players by basing them off his past.

Instead of only using the high moments of his career as examples, Farokhmanesh reflects on the process of his underdog story leading up to the everlasting Kansas shot as words of encouragement.

“I try to use examples of certain things I went through when I was playing,” Farokhmanesh said. “Like, if a guy is coming off the bench, I’ll use that and be like, ‘My coach benched me one game because whatever,’ and I came back and started the rest of the way through.”

In the midst of a grueling season, the inspiration and specific insight Farokhmanesh provides goes a long way. His growth-inspired mindset has done wonders at uplifting the Rams’ spirits, promoting an enthusiastic locker room.

“They aren’t just going to walk out of here just with an idea of how to play basketball,” Farokhmanesh said. “But they are going to leave Colorado State with the ability to be a great father, be a great husband, whatever they decide to do they will be great at it. That starts with showing up on time and treating people with respect.”

Eddie Herz can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz.