Sunday, February 10, 2013
How Eustachy changed CSU
By Matt Giles
Following the recent loss to UNLV, New Mexico now has two losses in Mountain West play, and is being closely followed in the conference rankings by one of the bigger surprises of the season: Colorado State. When various writers and analysts comprised their MWC preseason selections, the Rams lagged behind the Lobos, UNLV, San Diego State, and even Wyoming. While the season is ways from finished, and much could change in the hectic month that February always represents, one might assume Larry Eustachy will lead CSU to the NCAA tournament in just his first season at the school. So how did the former Southern Miss coach transform the squad, a unit that lost to Murray State in the second round of the NCAAs last season.
First, Eustachy was helped by the eligibility of Colton Iverson, a 6-foot-10 Minnesota transfer who has learned to successfully use his brute force while avoiding silly fouls (per Ken Pomeroy, he is committing just 3.3 fouls per 40 minutes, a decrease of one foul from his last Big Ten season).
Next, we must preface by noting Eustachy's teams have always attacked the glass hards. His USM squads were notorious for banging on both the offense and defensive boards, and he inherited an ideal scenario in Fort Collins. Iverson is a skilled rebounder, able to carve out space with his frame, but Eustachy was also able to rely upon Pierce Hornung and Greg Smith. Hornung, in particular, is one of the best at securing additional possessions for the team; his offensive rebounding percentage of 16.4 percent is ranked 15th in the nation, and he is so strong that once he anchors himself in the paint, planting his legs to overcome an opponent's box out, it is virtually impossible to move him. Colorado State is not a great offensive halfcourt team -- they are only converting 46 percent of their twos in conference play -- but the team's ability to consistently grab offensive boards exonerates this (for some) troubling stat.