Last Year: 26-9, 11-5 second place in Mountain West; loss to UNLV in MWC semis; W over Missouri in NCAA, loss to Louisville
Key player (s): Larry Eustachy, not a player, but he certainly made a difference in his first year with Tim Miles roster.
"I don't think they are a second place Mountain West team or a team that wins a Tournament game without Larry Eustachy," said Matt L. Stephens, who covers CSU for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. "Even though they won their first (six games), it did take them a while. Eustachy kept saying to give him a little time to figure out how to coach these guys and he adjusted his coaching style accordingly. Now they will be a little more up and down and a little more aggressive. All but two of the players are guys recruited by him or his staff. They will crash the boards with two guys dropping back. They want to defend every inch of the court."
Daniel Bejarano (6-4 junior, Arizona transfer): The Rams lost all five starters from last year and a player who would have started at the point guard position, Jesse Carr, re-injured a torn ACL in the offseason, which ended his career. Bejarano was the MWC 6th man of the year last year after averaging 6 points and 5.5 rpg, which was third on the team.
Something to watch; The Aggies and Rams share a total of five non conference opponents and three before playing each other in Fort Collins and NMSU will have film on the Gonzaga game, which is CSU's second game, as well as a home game to Northern Colorado. Each team will have played UTEP, Prairie View and Bethune Cookman so strengths and weaknesses should have been discovered by the time they play. It sounds like both teams could play eight or nine guys. Perhaps the key to the game will be which set of perimeter players can add a scoring touch and rebounding should be a strength of both teams. Stephens said point guard Jonathan Octeus is a slasher and distributor but not much of a shooter, similar to the Aggies at that position. Wing Dwight Smith sat out last year but he's a good defender similar to the Aggies likely starters on the wings. Inside, the Rams will play 6-7 Navy transfer JJ Avila,who was the Patriot League freshman of the year. Senior Gerson Santo (6-9), and JC transfer Marcus Holt (6-10) rotate at the center position.