Nov. 1, 2011
By Danny Mattie
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The Colorado State men’s basketball team shot 45 percent from three-point range, and outrebounded the CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves 41-22 on Tuesday evening to overcome a turnover-plagued performance and a struggling defensive effort in a 97-82 exhibition victory at Moby Arena.
“I was not very impressed with our defensive effort,” said Head Coach Tim Miles. “Our team defense was just not very good; however, I do want to give credit to CSU-Pueblo. I thought (head coach) Ralph Turner did an excellent job. They changed defenses and got us at some times. We were cooking there for a minute and then it was like ‘boom,’ 2-3 zone with some random and selective trapping, and also some 1-3-1 that got us out of sorts a little bit.
“I thought that had an effect on our defense, too. We have to be better than that, though. That’s not a good enough effort; that’s not a good enough mentality.”
The Rams overcame the defensive changes from the ThunderWolves and five players finished in double-figures scoring, led by junior guard Wes Eikmeier who poured in a game-high 24 points, including a 6-for-13 effort from three-point range.
Senior forward Will Bell, playing limited minutes because of soreness in his knee, tallied 17 points in just 13 minutes of action, while juniors Greg Smith and Dorian Green chipped in 14 and 12 points, respectively.
“Some guys did some good things,” said Miles. “Will Bell was good in the first half. The design was to only play him in the first half with his knee the way it is for about 10-12 minutes and he got 13, and made a living off good high-post passes from Pierce (Hornung).
“Some other guys did a good job, but Greg Smith has to find a way to stay in the game. Bottom line, I think he let fouls hamper him a little bit. I will also give credit to Wes; he shot well. I think he let fouls hamper him a little bit. Cody Mann also did a nice job in transition.”
Mann finished as the Rams’ fifth scorer in double figures with 11 points in his unofficial collegiate debut.
“In the beginning my nerves were up, I didn’t know what I was doing out there,” said Mann. “My teammates were saying to be aggressive. When you’re aggressive you start playing better. So things got better for me when I got aggressive.”
Smith (1-for-1), Green (2-for-5) and senior guard Kaipo Sabas (1-for-1) also knocked down shots from long distance for the Rams.
Hornung, a junior co-captain, pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, and was one of four CSU players , - along with Eikmeier, Green and Jesse Carr, to record at least four assists on the night. Carr paced the Rams with seven helpers.
Defensively, the Rams allowed the ThunderWolves to shoot 46 percent from the field and 35 percent from three-point range. Four CSU-Pueblo players finished in double figures, led by Andre Martin (19 points) and Arden Dennis (18). Jed Knafelc notched 13 points and Bryce Velasquez chipped in with 10. Velasquez also dished out a game-high eight assists.
The teams combined for 37 turnovers in the contest, with the ThunderWolves converting the Rams’ 21 giveaways into 31 points.
“We’re just not really ball-tough right now and there are just some things that we need to get better at,” added Miles. “We have about 10 days to do that, and that will start tomorrow afternoon.”
The 97 points marked the second-best offensive output for the Rams in an exhibition game under Miles (107 vs. Chadron State in 2007), while the ThunderWolves’ 82 points established a new high for a Rams preseason opponent.
Colorado State closes its exhibition slate Saturday at Moby Arena hosting Southwest Minnesota State. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. against the Mustangs. The Rams open regular-season play Friday, Nov. 11, against the Montana Grizzlies, also at Moby Arena.
Season tickets are on sale for the CSU men’s basketball 2011-12 season. For more information visit CSURams.com or call the CSU ticket office 1-800/491-RAMS.
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