March 8, 2013
By Gary Ozzello
FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- It has been a monumental year of achievements by Colorado State’s basketball team and first-year coach Larry Eustachy. Chief among the achievements have been the contributions of five senior starters, three of whom played their entire careers at Colorado State, and two who found a home after transferring from who wishes he would have.
Three of the five – Dorian Green, Pierce Hornung, and Greg Smith – arrived with Colorado State’s program as freshmen trying to build a foundation that would eventually lead to the Rams’ current 23 victories – tying for the most in school history. They teamed up with Wes Eikmeier, a redshirt sophomore for three seasons on the court, and a fifth, Colton Iverson, arrived two years later as a transfer from Minnesota, but makes it widely known he wishes he had spent his entire career in Fort Collins.
The Rams have already tied the school record for wins, have been ranked among the AP top 25 for the first time since 1954, and are on the verge of a second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. Only twice before, in 1989-90 and 1964-65, has a CSU team made back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Each of the five seniors had a chance to voice their thoughts prior to their final home game in Moby Arena about their respective careers.
Each was asked two questions: How they would like to be remembered two decades from now, and how they would like this team to be remembered at the same point in time.
Dorian Green, a 6-foot, two-inch guard from Lawrence, Kan., will conclude his career among the top four players in career assists at Colorado State. Green has started every game – 126 and counting – in his career, setting a new school record.
“For me, it would be that I helped contribute to turn this program around and make it into a winner. For the team, it’s a collection of guys who have great chemistry, and got along off the court as well as on the court. It’s a group that put this program on the map. We did what we set out to do.”
Pierce Hornung, a 6-foot, 5-inch forward, is from Arvada, Colo., and followed in his father’s footsteps to Colorado State. Stan, the elder Hornung, played football at CSU in the 1980’s. His son Pierce will conclude his career among the top three players in career rebounding. He built the reputation as a fierce competitor.
“I don’t like talking about myself, self-promotion,” Hornung said adamantly. “But I would like to be remembered as a guy who worked hard every day, and played the game the right way. I’d like this team to be remembered as a group who turned the program around. We never lost sight of what we were trying to do from the beginning. I’d want this group to be remembered as a bunch of winners who refuse to lose and knew the sky was the limit.”
Wes Eikmeier has played three seasons at Colorado State after transferring from Iowa State. The 6-foot, 3-inch guard is recognized as one of the conference’s top three-point shooters and was a first-team all-conference performer a year ago. He’ll conclude his career among the top shooters at the foul line, as well.
“I’d like to be remembered as someone who always wanted to win, and would do what it took to win,” said Eikmeier. “At the same time, that I was a person who was a good representative of Colorado State and this community, and I was approachable. This is a real high-character group of guys who took a program that was down and is looked upon as a winner.
“We wanted to build a good basketball program that was among the top teams in the Mountain West and the nation. It’s a great group to be around. I think it’s pretty unique to have one core group stick together with it for four years and turn it into a top-25 program.”
Iverson, the 6-foot, 10-inch senior center from Yankton, S.D., had the finest night of his career at Wyoming on Wednesday, tying a conference record by making all 12 of his field goals en route to 29 points. He played only one season at CSU – but wishes he had played his entire career for the Rams.
“I only wish I had been at CSU my entire career,” Iverson said. “Not just one year. I have green and gold blood. It’s a team that we all come from small things, and earned respect along the way. We worked hard to get here, and I hope we’re remembered for representing CSU very well. It’s a great group to be around.”
Greg Smith is a 6-foot, six-inch forward from Omaha, Neb., who has played in nearly 120 games in his career.
“For me, that we won a lot of games,” said Smith. “I would want to be remembered as someone who played hard and was a part of a team that did some special things. I have a lot of memories, too many to pick just one. But the home court win streak, the students storming the court are special. That, and my teammates are things I will remember most.”
The Rams’ five senior starters will be honored in a postgame ceremony Saturday at Moby Arena. The Rams’ home finale, a “Green Out” vs. Nevada, is set for a 6:30 p.m. tip MT tip.
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