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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

CSU Pueblo men’s basketball squad looks to build in 21-22 season

Meekness Payne (Today portrait/Brianna Sammons; Photo illustration/Brenden Vigil with elements from Shutterstock)

“I want to win more games than last year for sure. As a team we want to give up the least amount of points than any other team in the RMAC. We as a team want to lock down defensively.” — Starting point guard Lian Ramiro

Magic 8 Ball

By Nathan Torres
Special to The Today

The Colorado State University Pueblo Thunderwolves men’s basketball team is expecting nothing less than success this upcoming season. Coming off a 3-15 record last season, the Thunderwolves are motivated and determined to contend for the RMAC Championship. 

To be sure, athletics on campus this year will definitely help the Wolves and their fans return to normalcy, since the COVID vaccines became available this past spring.  

Matthew Hammer is the head coach for the squad. Going into his third year at the helm, one of Hammer’s team mottos is to “be better today than yesterday.”  

“Our record was not good last season, but we had short rests for many games last season with a condensed schedule,” he said. “We struggled being as prepared as we wanted to be last season with games being cancelled at the last minute. 

“It was very hard to build momentum without fans last season.”

Hammer believes he has a great team this year full of talent up and down the roster. Last year’s squad saw four freshmen in the starting lineup, he said, and he knows that this team can have a different leading scorer every night. 

“We need to have goals of getting a great shot every time we are on offense,” Hammer said. 

The men’s squad opened the season Nov. 12 and 13 with a tough back-to-back series on the road, losing 66-74 to Cameron University and 64-77 to MSU Texas, respectively.

The team opened home play Nov. 19 with a 114-62 trouncing of Spurgeon College, setting off a 66 percent winning streak in the next three contests (103-77 over Bacone College Nov. 20; 39-61 to Texas A&M International Friday; and 84-76 over Kansas Christian Saturday, respectively). 

Malcolm Little is a sophomore guard for the Pack. He said while the team is young, he is looking forward to a successful season. 

“The team chemistry is good,” he said. “Coach Hammer is a very cool coach to be around, and a great leader for our team.” 

Little is very committed to improving his craft on the court. He says that he shoots before and after practice at times, just to get the proper reps in and improve his overall game.  He hopes to play professional basketball after his college career at CSU-Pueblo ends.

But as for this season, “I want to improve on my defense and communicating on the court.” 

Meekness Payne is starting forward for the Thunderwolves. A junior on the court, but a senior in the classroom, he is a political science major with a minor in business. After his college career he plans on going into real estate — if he does not end up playing professional basketball overseas, that is. 

Payne has great confidence in his team this season. 

“I want to go deep in the tournament and win the 2022 RMAC Championship,” he said. “I do not want any stops this season due to COVID.” 

Lian Ramiro (11) charges toward a layup in Saturday’s victory over Kansas Christian College during the Thanksgiving Classic. (Today photo/Brianna Sammons)

He’s also been putting in long hours to make it happen. To propel his game, he studies NBA Superstars such as Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Glenn Robinson. 

“I worked out this past summer to get stronger,” Payne said. “I worked on my footwork and left hand and creating moves off the dribble.

“[Coach Hammer] pushes us every day and holds us accountable. We as a team need a coach like that to be successful.”

Lian Ramiro will be the starting point guard for the Pack this season. What are his goals for the season? 

“I want to win more games than last year for sure,” he said. “As a team we want to give up the least amount of points than any other team in the RMAC. We as a team want to lock down defensively.” 

Ramiro said every player in college has to be respected because it’s a high level of play. He believes that in a couple of years, this basketball team will be scary for the opposition to play against, he added that although it’s young, this squad can accomplish big things this year. 

For now, he’s focusing on the present because, as he said,Any team in this league can win.”

** See related: Photo essay: Thanksgiving Classic ** 
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