No team can be great without a leader.
For No. 22 Colorado State basketball – who has pushed themselves into the elite category this season – Dorian Green is that leader.
He's the point guard, but that doesn't always translate to leadership, especially at the college level. But Green uses his smarts to understand the message of coaches, then translate it to his teammates, while on the hardwood.
Gritty Green hasn't missed a start in his entire four-year stint with Colorado State – an amazing 124 straight – and the Lawrence, Kansas native has always been forced to prove himself.
He stands at 6'2” 192 pounds, but doesn't have the “look” of a collegiate point guard. He looks slow, unathletic and unable to jump; it's all just not true. It's likely a reason his hometown Kansas Jayhawks didn't offer him a scholarship to play, a giant chip on his shoulder.
But his game has evolved.
In his first two seasons with CSU, Green was told to drive to the hoop, something he did with ease for the most part. Last season, with so many other playmakers on the team, he was asked to defer to those teammates, which took him out of his game and limited his impact on many nights.
This year, though, new head coach Larry Eustachy has seemingly given Green the keys to the car, telling him to be more of a scorer than ever before.
It's really been a boon for CSU, who is currently 21-4, 8-2 MWC.
While he continues to move the ball around – averaging a career-high 4.1 assists per contest – Green has also taken the onus of scoring on his shoulders, and he's done so in a variety of ways.
He'll still get to the hoop on you as his handling and quickness are underrated. He can knock down three-pointers with that flat shot of his, even from multiple feet beyond the arc. And when the Rams need a reliable free throw shooter, Green's the man.
No. 22 has been considerably clutch this season, closing out Colorado State wins either at the free throw line or from the field with ice water in his veins. In the win over UNLV one month ago, he went a perfect 8-8 from the line, then 10-10 a week later at Fresno State. And in the Rams big win Wednesday against San Diego State, he hit a deep three, then took the ball to the hole with power for an and-one; the clutch free throw make put his team up four with under a minute to play.
Much like his clutch play in games, Dorian Green has been clutch this season; performing at the top of his game down the crucial stretch run.
“I feel like I'm playing pretty well offensively,” he told me about finding his rhythm following the win over Air Force last Saturday. “I'm not shooting the ball statistically as well as last year, but I feel like I'm being aggressive and trying to make a play. With our team, it's hard to key on one guy, so I just take what the defense gives me. They're going to give a lot of attention to Colton (Iverson) and the year that Wes (Eikmeier) had last year, first-team all conference; so sometimes I'm just taking what they give me.”
Even when trying to coax this answer out of him, Green was quick to be unselfish and compliment his teammates, as per usual.
He scored a team-high 22 points on Saturday, and has been on a tear over the last six games. Over those six contests, the Rams are 6-0, and he's averaged 15.5 points, 5.0 assists, hitting 40.9 percent of his shots from downtown and 80 percent from the charity stripe. He's played so well, he's now second on the team in scoring at 13.1 per.
On a team that enjoys five players scoring in double digits every night, Green has quietly become the go-to guy for the green and gold, specifically when the game is on the line.
Next up for No. 22 Colorado State is a second straight road game against UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada Wednesday night. Tip off is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. MT and it will be televised on CBS Sports Network.