Trip to Ba­hamas should be more than just va­ca­tion to Rams.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Sean Star

FORT COLLINS» With a five-mem­ber in­com­ing re­cruit­ing class and two Divi­sion I trans­fers now el­i­gi­ble, the Colorado State men’s bas­ket­ball team has plenty of fresh faces.

There are also some fa­mil­iar ones with the re­turn of starters Pren­tiss Nixon, Nico Car­va­cho and J.D. Paige.

Mix­ing the old with the new, and es­tab­lish­ing roles and new team lead­ers in the ab­sence of Gian Clavell and Em­manuel Omogbo, will take some time. Luck­ily for the Rams, they will have a head start thanks to a trip to the Ba­hamas on tap Aug. 5-11.

Col­lege bas­ket­ball teams are al­lowed one such trip over­seas ev­ery four years, al­though it has been five since CSU last trav­eled abroad — which was also to the Ba­hamas dur­ing coach Larry Eus­tachy’s first sea­son with the team, in 2012.

“We have some ex­pe­ri­ence back; we also have a lot of unan­swered ques­tions, so it’ll be a chance to move us fur­ther ahead, par­tic­u­larly with this mon­ster non­con­fer­ence sched­ule we have,” said Eus­tachy, who coached the Ba­hamian na­tional team for one sea­son in 2014. “It’s a chance to progress, whether it’s ma­tu­rity-wise, whether it’s get­ting to know your team­mates, whether it’s ex­e­cu­tion, whether it’s un­der­stand­ing our ter­mi­nol­ogy, whether it’s un­der­stand­ing what the coach ex­pects.”

“It’s a lot of things. It lets us start our sea­son sooner. And it gives our guys a chance to go some­where they’d prob­a­bly never go.”

The Rams will play three games against teams from the Ba­hamas dur­ing their week­long get­away. Per­haps just as im­por­tant are the 10 ex­tra prac­tices the Rams are al­lowed in prepa­ra­tion for the trip.

The en­tire squad has been to­gether for more than a month now, and if any­thing, the CSU coach­ing staff has had to pull back the reins to avoid burnout.

“With this Ba­hamas thing, we’ve got even more time with them, so it’s been good,” as­so­ciate coach Steve Barnes said. “You want to coach them, but you also don’t want them to be not want­ing to be in the gym in Fe­bru­ary and March. So it’s kind of, ‘Are we pok­ing too hard? Are we go­ing enough?’

“We’re just re­ally try­ing to get the right read on how much to do and how much to teach. It’s been good for the new guys, and to give the older guys a chance to lead. We’ve had a good sum­mer.”

The Rams’ suc­cess in 2017-18 will de­pend largely on their abil­ity to fill the mas­sive holes left by Omogbo and Clavell, a pair of first-team all-con­fer­ence play­ers a sea­son ago who led CSU to a run­ner-up fin­ish in both the Moun­tain West reg­u­lar sea­son and con­fer­ence tour­na­ment.

“I think our pro­gram is maybe a year away, I re­ally do. If you look at it, we re­ally worked hard to not fall off the map, as I’ve said so many times. So I think we’ve got good lead­er­ship in the top end and guys are re­ally ea­ger to learn,” Eus­tachy said. “Our guys are tal­ented, but we’re just in­ex­pe­ri­enced. Even though we have three starters back, they’re go­ing to have to step into a dif­fer­ent role. It’s eas­ier when you go into San Diego State with Gian and Em­manuel on your team. Now guys like Jeremiah (Paige) are go­ing to have to step up and take over those roles.”

Not only will the Ba­hamas trip pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for new lead­er­ship to emerge, it will give the coach­ing staff an op­por­tu­nity to tinker with line­ups and ro­ta­tions, some­thing that usu­ally isn’t done dur­ing sum­mer prac­tices.

“Right now they’re all kind of in the hop­per to­gether, and when we go down to the Ba­hamas, now you’re go­ing to start play­ing dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions,” Barnes said. “You don’t get that re­ally that much when you’re just, ‘OK, you five against you five,’ be­cause they’re just all to­gether. We’ll get a bet­ter feel of, ‘Oh, that’s a pretty good start­ing group, that’s a pretty good seven, that’s a pretty good eight.’ That kind of thing.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.