|Eustachy took the Colorado State job after Tim Miles left for Nebraska this past spring. (US Presswire)|
In our Trippin' series, we're talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Check here for all Trippin' related stories.
This was the ideal opportunity for Larry Eustachy, a chance for the Colorado State head coach to see his new group on the court on an overseas trip down in the Bahamas. But instead of getting multiple looks at his players, Eustachy's Rams only played one game, a 15-point victory over the Bahamas All-Stars.
"It was still a great trip," said Eustachy, who came over from Southern Miss in the offseason. "But it was about the 10 days of practice. The trip was a chance to get to know them better. Remember, I haven't been around them that much since I took the job for one reason or another, whether it was moving or the July recruiting period."
Eustachy inherits an NCAA tournament team that returns nearly everyone of note -- and he has no problem saying he doesn't need to "change the culture." In fact, he praises former coach Tim Miles, who left for Nebraska, for his work in building the program.
"He did an unbelievable job. I was extremely impressed with how hard they work," he added. "And how well-conditioned they are. I really like these guys and how they competed."
What Eustachy learned: "We have high, high character guys. I don't worry about guys at night, I don't worry one minute about guys getting in trouble. I also learned that we have some guys that aren't as good as I'd heard and some guys who are better than advertised. I have been around long enough to realize it's way too early to judge -- after just 10 practices and one game. I also understand we have a small margin for error when it comes to talking about playing against the big boys."
Who stood out: "Pierce Hornung. He just does everything. He's so unselfish, gets every loose ball, every rebound. He stood out more than anyone else -- and he's the most important player on our team."
What is the biggest concern: "It's not that much of a concern, but fan expectation are completely out of whack. It's something I can't control. If you had the fans check a box, whether they think we're going to the Final Four or won't make the NCAA tournament, they would check the Final Four. That's OK. I'm way past all that."
-- Former Minnesota big man Colton Iverson is eligible this season after sitting out last year. He finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds in the game out in the Bahamas. "He's huge. He's 280 pounds and 6-foot-11. This kid can rebound."
-- More on Hornung: "He impacts winning more than anyone else on our team. He just works his butt off."
-- Eustachy was raving about the addition of unheralded freshman Joe De Ciman. "I think we stole him," Eustachy said. "He's going to be really good." De Ciman is a 6-foot-5 guard from Saskatchewan, Canada, who played on the U-17 National Team that also featured Andrew Wiggins, the top-ranked player in the Class of 2014, as well as Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga) and Anthony Bennett (UNLV).
-- Arizona transfer Daniel Bejarano is also eligible this season, but was held out of the trip due to a minor ankle injury. Bejarano barely played as a freshman in Tucson before deciding to leave the Wildcats. "He's a scorer," Eustachy said. "He can come off screens and score, but he needs to be more physical and play better defense."
-- Bejarano was joined on the sidelines by 7-foot junior Trevor Williams and Gerson Santo, a 6-foot-9 newcomer from Southern Idaho that is still recovering from knee surgery.
-- Eustachy said that Wabash Community College guard Jonathan Octues, a sophomore with three years remaining of eligibility, will battle for minutes with the returning guards. "He'll definitely push the other guys," Eustachy said.
-- Eustachy said, with a laugh, that he needs to get to the NCAA tournament this season so he can collect a $250,000 bonus. The former Iowa State and Southern Miss head coach was ecstatic with the opportunity in Fort Collins. "This job has great potential," he said. "And it's a great place to live."
-- And here's a picture of the team snorkling.
|Which one is Larry Eustachy? (Colorado State Athletics)|