Ready for the next level
Dorian Green may be just a freshman, but through 14 games, he already leads Colorado State (9-5) in the following categories:
• Points per game: 13.7
• Assists: 34
• Minutes per game: 34.1
• Three-pointers made: 27
Former Lawrence High standout Dorian Green has spent most of his life around basketball.
The days in the driveway, high school stardom and an AAU education all led him to Colorado State University, where he currently starts for the 9-5 Rams as a true freshman.
Until August, basketball had always been easy for Green. He was ahead of the curve as a youngster and became a bona fide weapon at LHS, where he led the Lions to the 2008 state title game. Every step of the way, Green seemed to be at his best when the lights were bright and the stage was enormous.
Green and Colorado State find themselves in the middle of the pack in the Mountain West:
School Conf. Overall
BYU 0-0 13-1
New Mexico (19) 0-0 13-1
UNLV 0-0 12-2
San Diego St. 0-0 11-3
Colorado St. 0-0 9-5
Air Force 0-0 7-5
Wyoming 0-0 6-7
TCU 0-0 6-7
Utah 0-0 6-7
Jumpers rolled off of his fingers softly, defenders that checked him looked like infants and every obstacle that stood in front of him became a reason to reach higher.
But then he arrived at Colorado State and, for the first time in his life, basketball actually seemed different.
“I don’t think it was necessarily difficult,” Green said. “There were things I needed to learn and things I needed to get used to. It wasn’t necessarily hard, there were just a bunch of little things I had to pick up. Now that I know them, I think to myself all the time, ‘Man, I wish I would’ve known that last year.’”
Included on that list were things like adjusting to the more physical game, finding ways to play with — and against — bigger and better athletes and learning a new system.
As the summer workouts turned into winter practices and the grueling offseason became game-time, Green found his comfort zone again. It’s not something that everyone can understand. Sometimes, players just have to play.
And so he did. A lot.
First came the 17-point performance in his first college game against Regis. Granted, it was an exhibition game against an irrelevant opponent, but that was the night Green first proved to himself that he could play.
“It was a good way to start out,” he said. “It was good for me because I hit some shots early and that built my confidence. It was fun just going out there playing for the first time.”
The Regis game didn’t just prove something to Green. Others saw it, too. That was the night CSU coach Tim Miles first believed what he’d been saying all along.
“I (think) Dorian Green looks like a player,” Miles said after the game.
Longtime Regis coach Lonnie Porter agreed: “The kid shoots the lights out of it. He’s going to be a player. He’s a gritty, hard-nosed kid, and he doesn’t back down.”
Maybe not. But how much can one really learn from an exhibition game against a Div. II opponent? Green faced better competition during his AAU days with the K.C. Pump N Run.
Once the regular season began, Green picked up where he left off. First was a 16-point outing in a win against UC-Davis. He followed that up with 12 points against Oregon, 18 against Indiana State and 17 more in a rout of Mayville. Five games into his college career, Green — who averaged 26.2 points per game as a senior at LHS — was leading the Rams in scoring and minutes. If nothing else, the freshman guard, who measured 6-foot-1, 160 pounds in high school and currently is listed at 6-2, 170, had proven that he could handle Div. I basketball.
The Oregon game — a 68-55 loss in the championship game of the Basketball Travelers Tip-Off Tournament — holds a special place in Green’s mind.
“That was cool because we were playing our first Pac 10 program and playing a more high-profile program,” he said.
After their 3-2 start came a double-overtime game against the University of San Francisco in which CSU basically played just seven guys (two others played a combined seven minutes) during a thrilling 91-75 victory at Colorado State’s Moby Arena. In addition to leading the Rams in assists (8), steals (2) and shots (19) while scoring 17 points, Green played all 50 minutes. It was then that Green truly believed he was there to stay.
“I don’t know if that was the point where I really felt like I belonged,” he said. “That kind of came through practicing and just getting used to the guys. But coach Miles told me that he needs me to play and we’re short on guards this year and I need to make as much of an impact as I can. So that’s what I try to do.”
So far so good.
Through 12 games — including a home win against Colorado, which he called “definitely the best moment of the year so far” — Green has started every game and played nearly all of his minutes as the team’s point guard. He leads the Rams in points (13.7), assists (34) and minutes (34.1) per game, and is tied for second in steals (17) and sixth in rebounds (3.1) per contest.
Even with all of those numbers in his corner and his mind packed with new information, Green has not lost touch with who he truly is on the court. Green is still a shooter. Always has been and always will be. He leads the Rams in three-pointers made (27) and three-pointers attempted (75), is shooting 36 percent from behind the arc and also has knocked down 82 percent of his free throws.
“A big goal of mine is to hit open shots,” Green said. “Every good look I get I want to make it. There’s going to be good times and bad times but I just have to keep going. Coach told me I just have to keep shooting.”
Thursday’s 93-71 victory against Yale closed out the Rams’ non-conference portion of the schedule. CSU, which is 7-0 at home this season, will jump into Mountain West Conference play Jan. 6 at Wyoming.
“We’re off to a good start,” Green said. “The guys around the team say they finally see the change. Just the way the team kind of carries itself and the mental aspect, it’s a different team. Coach Miles always says that we want to get to the (NCAA) Tournament and then win when we get there. That’s our goal.”