Fort Collins, CO – The Colorado State Rams topped New Mexico State 64-61 in their opening game of the season. The Rams lost four starters from last year’s team, including their leading scorer, but did return two players with significant starting experience in senior guard Gian Clavell (6-4) and senior forward Emmanuel Omogbo (6-8).
However, CSU’s Omogbo was the only senior suiting-up due to the recent suspension of Clavell (last year he averaged 20.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg before an injury ended his season after just 10 games). Omogbo started in 30 of the 34 games last year and averaged 10.9 points and a team-best 8.0 rebounds per game.
The scoring was spotty early with Aggie point-guard Ian Baker (6-0) and sophomore teammate Eli Chula (6-7) scoring all the points. Baker, a senior was named to the Lou Henson Award Preseason Watch List and has a chance to move up the all-time career-list in 3-point shooting at New Mexico State. He is currently seventh all-time in 3-pointers made (138). Baker has a current career 3-point shooting-percentage of .407 to begin the season.
New Mexico State did take an early 10-point lead by shooting 62 percent as a team from the field for much of the first half, although cooling off to end the half. The Rams managed to inch within three points and bring the half time score to 32-29, doing it with hustle on the offensive boards and the comfort of playing at home.
The second half remained close with no team or player having a scoring spree until CSU ran to a 10-point lead with 4 minutes left in the game and finished the game winning 64-61 despite only making 1-of-14 from the 3-point line. The Aggies were led by Chula’s 12 points and Baker’s 16 although Baker shot a disappointing 1-of- 9 from the 3-point line, many of them being wide-open looks. He had two assists and two steals in 35 minutes of play but committed a team-high five turnovers. Baker has the athletic balance and other physical tools to be a next-level point-guard overseas but his outside shot was inconsistent and didn’t get teammates involved in the offense. He has a very smooth catch and shoot motion in his form and better shooting days are ahead. Baker drives to the rim easily and could score with his off-hand but seem determined to shoot from beyond the arc. His defense was only adequate and he was easily screened which is another sign of early season plays needing to be adjusted. Overall Baker has some potential and probably a senior perimeter player that we will likely see again in April at the Portsmouth Invitational in Virginia.
Colorado State ‘s Omogbo has the size of a prototype forward with strong shoulders and a solid frame but is limited offensively especially within the Ram’s style of offense. He scored eight points to go with a team-high nine rebounds with the points mostly coming from his four offensive rebounds or strong power up moves to the basket. He shot 4-of-6 for the game. Omogbo doesn’t look to score much on a catch and wants to drive (two turnovers on offensive charging fouls) rather than attempt a short jump shot. He doesn’t display a back-to-the-basket game either, but did seem to be a decent low-post defender with much energy and competitiveness. Even when beat to the spot by his man, Omogbo remained physical and aggressive not giving ground which sometimes was negated by a foul. At this early part of the basketball season, he is a great compliment to the scoring-minded center 6-8 Braden Koelliker and the team balance that CSU desires.
This article was written by Richard Ward, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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