Three days after giving up 38 points in the paint and a minus-21 rebounding margin to San Diego State, the Frogs will face forward Jason Smith and the Colorado State Rams Saturday at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.Head coach Neil Dougherty said Smith, a sophomore, is the best interior player in the Mountain West Conference.
“He’s a legit 7-footer,” Dougherty said. “They have the best post-player in the league.”
Smith, who came off the bench his freshman season, is proving himself to be an inside-outside talent. His .536 shooting percentage is fifth on the team, and although he does not take many three-pointers, he makes 66 percent of them.
Dougherty said Smith, who leads the team in points and rebounds in each game, has the traits to be a future professional.
“He’s going to be playing basketball on TV for a long time,” Dougherty said. “He can shoot threes, he can read defenses well. If he sees an open player, he can kick it out.”
Dougherty said after the Frogs weak post performance Jan. 18, the defense will have to mix things up to not only frustrate Smith, but also disrupt the Rams’ whole prolific offense.
“We’re going to have to do a lot of different things,” Dougherty said. “They’re very good roster-wise with a lot of strong individuals. Talent-wise, they’re second in the league to only San Diego State.”
The Rams entered the season relatively unheralded, but Dougherty said he treats the team as a top-level talent.
“They’re much better than the respect they’ve gotten,” Dougherty said. “They’re going to play well … you just got to play the games.”
Dougherty said the team is going to continue to focus on creating turnovers – it forced 24 against SDSU — and creating offense from its defense. When aggressive defense is combined with consistent offensive rebounding, Dougherty said, the extra possessions gained can be the difference.
“When you shoot the ball like we do, you need to shoot the ball 15 to 20 times more than them,” Dougherty said. “Right now we’re a couple of shots here, a couple of shots there, from having a good season.”
Although Wednesday’s loss marked the Frogs’ second blowout defeat in a row, Dougherty said the team is still trying to stay optimistic.
“It’s tough, but they’re handling it pretty well,” Dougherty said. “For schools like ours though, this isn’t unusual. It only takes one night.