The biggest news around Colorado State in the off-season is Larry Eustachy’s contract was extended through the 2020-21 season.
The extension means Eustachy, a 26-year coaching veteran, will win his 500th career game sometime this season while sitting on the CSU bench,
Eustachy has compiled an 87-48 record at CSU in four years, including an 18-16 record last season.
“Fort Collins has become home to me,” Eustachy said in a school press release after the extension was announced. “We have an incredible fan base that has grown during my time here.
“I feel like we can give Ram Nation what it deserves for all of its years of support, especially since we have the program set up for success for the next several years. With this extension, I am able to do that for our great fans while finishing my coaching career here as I always wanted.”
The fiery Eustachy has made the Rams relevant again, and despite the fact the Rams lost four starters, he was upbeat at the recent MW Media Day in Las Vegas.
The biggest reason for his optimism is the return of Gian Clavell, who broke his hand during practice, and missed the entire MW season.
Clavell averaged 20.8 points in the first 10 games of the season, and he along with forward Emmanuel Omogbo (10.9, 8.0) are expected to do a lot of heavy lifting.
Besides Clavell and Omogbo, CSU will suit up just eight other players this year — redshirt junior Kimani Jackson (2,1, 1.2), 6-2 guard Prentiss Nixon (3.9, 3.0), 6-3 guard J.D. Paige (4.9, 1.8), 6-5 transfer Devocio Butler from Hill College, 6-6 forward Che Bob from South Plains College, 6-2 redshirt freshman Anthony Bonner, 6-11 redshirt freshman Nico Carvacho and 6-8 sophomore Braden Koeliker.
The Rams have five transfers who have to sit out this year because of NCAA rules, including Kevin Little (Maine), Lorenzo Jenkins (Arkansas) and Robbie Berwick (Florida State).
Antwan Scott filled in nicely for Clavell and was second-team all-MW, but Eustachy is quick to point out Clavell is a better player.
“Antwan was a good player, but Gian is much better,” Eustachy said. “I don’t think there is a better player in the league.”
Clavell averaged 36.9 minutes, knocking down 45 percent of his shots, including 42 percent from beyond the arc. He also averaged seven rebounds and three assists a game.
Eustachy said Clavell learned a lot whole sitting out last season, and he steps on the toes of his teammates once in a while in his new leadership role.
“I learned the way the game is played,” Clavell said. “I looked at a lot of film trying to help my teammates out and to be a better player myself. It was tough sitting out. Getting to play again, I feel like a kid at Christmas.”
Omogbo, a senior, averaged 11,7 points and scoring in double figures in eight of his last 10 games. In that span, he averaged 11 rebounds.
In a win over New Mexico, he had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and he pulled down 19 rebounds against Nevada. He has eight double-doubles in his career and he ranked fourth in rebounding in the MW. He shot 45 percent from the field, and is a solid intermediate range shooter.
“Rebounding is all about effort,” Omogbo said recently. “I’ll do what I do the best. I’m the trash man.
“Learned from Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers). You can be a star in your own way; not scoring but rebounding a lot.”
The Rams have a solid non-conference schedule awaiting with home games against New Mexico State (Nov. 13) and Wichita State (Dec. 3), and away games at Stanford (Nov. 20) and Colorado (Nov. 30). There’s also a neutral-court game against Kansas State (Dec. 17). K-State edged CSU, 61-56, a loss Omogbo would love to avenge. He had 13 points and 14 rebounds in that game.