3 observations from CSU's open scrimmage

Colorado State men’s basketball held an open scrimmage Saturday morning, allowing the Ram faithful to get its first look at Niko Medved’s squad. In front of a crowd of roughly 100 people, the Rams played for 90 minutes of real time, but the scrimmage was divided into three 10-minute periods.

Although Medved did intervene a few times to offer an explanation of what went wrong, or to have the officials explain a foul call, the players were aloud to play without interruption for the most part.

Here are three observations about the 2018-19 Colorado State men’s basketball team, based on Saturday’s scrimmage and the first few weeks of practice.

1. The offense is going to be significantly better than last season:

Rarely does a team improve after losing its leading scorer to another school, but that should be the case with this CSU team. Prentiss Nixon was a dynamic scorer in his three seasons with the program, but with no structure in the offense, it was not uncommon for the Rams to go multiple minutes at a time without a bucket.

So, while CSU does not necessarily benefit from Nixon’s departure, the offense should be more efficient this season as a whole. The players have all raved about how much more fun it is to play in Medved’s up-tempo offense, and on Saturday they proved why.

There is better ball movement and the floor spacing is constantly changing, which allows them to create opportunities at the rim or on the perimeter. And by playing fast, CSU gets to take advantage of its athleticism, which is going to create defensive mismatches.

Between Anthony Masinton-Bonner, J.D. Paige, Deion James, Kris Martin, and Nico Carvacho, the Rams will have a ton of experience in the starting lineup. When factoring in the experience of the roster and Medved’s offensive philosophies, there are many reasons to believe this team should be much more consistent in 2018-19.

2. The coaching is more active:

The action was on the floor, but It was difficult not not to focus on the coaching staff on the sidelines. Dave Thorson may be the oldest coach on the staff, but the legendary Minnesota High School basketball coach legitimately brings as much energy as anyone in the arena, including the players.

As coach of the gold team, Thorson was extremely active and vocal. From start to finish, Thorson never relented and consistently provided feedback, instructions and vocal support. His presence in the locker room will be valuable for a team with a first-year head coach and a roster that is still learning a new system.

3. New players will make a big impact:

The Rams have plenty of familiar contributors like Bonner and Carvacho, but there are a lot of new players in key roles. The most obvious is Martin, who looked extremely smooth with the basketball in the scrimmage, and should be one of the leading scorers on the team.

Others include freshman forward Adam Thistlewood and Texas Tech transfer guard Hyron Edwards. Edwards will be eligible to join the team after the semester, but the speedy combo guard could make a big difference in conference play.

Along with the trio listed above, Zo Tyson should play big minutes if he stays healthy. The 6-foot-9 forward received a medical redshirt after missing all of last season with a broken foot, but Tyson appears to be fully healed and ready to go. After practice on Wednesday, Tyson said that he felt great and on Saturday, there were no signs of his injury slowing him down in any way.