Goal-driven Bejarano grasping sixth-man role at Colorado Stateby Javier Morales on Dec. 30, 2012, under Sports
Javier Morales is the site founder, editor and writer for WILDABOUTAZCATS.net. He is a former Arizona Press Club award winner
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Former Phoenix North High School and University of Arizona guard Daniel Bejarano was a crowning recruiting achievement for coach Sean Miller in his second season in Tucson in 2010.
Now, Bejarano is playing at Colorado State.
Miller was appreciative of the way Bejarano was supportive of his teammates despite playing only 30 minutes in eight games as a freshman. Miller and his staff, however, were not pleased with Bejarano’s defensive skills. On top of that, Miller recruited highly-touted guards Nick Johnson and Josiah Turner and returned Jordin Mayes and senior guards Kyle Fogg and Brendon Lavender in 2011-12.
Turner, Fogg and Lavender are gone and Mayes, a junior, is the ninth player in the rotation. Mark Lyons and Johnson, however, play the bulk of the minutes in the backcourt. Bejarano’s playing time would have been limited this season. His scholarship spot also might have precluded Miller from attracting all four players — Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley and Gabe York — in his heralded Class of 2012 group.
Bejarano, who sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules, is gradually grasping first-year Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy’s style and is putting together a credible season as the sixth man for the Rams. They recently captured the Continental Tire Classic title in Las Vegas, of which I reported on and managed to spend time with Bejarano.
The main on article on Bejarano is at my Web site WILDABOUTAZCATS.net. The following are more quotes from Bejarano in the Dec. 22 interview:
On achieving his first collegiate double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in a 70-55 win over Portland:
“I have always been active. I’m just more into it. I sat out last year and everything. I am attacking it. I’m really feeling it. Colorado State is not known. I want to try to make it known not by myself but as a team. Me coming off the bench as the sixth man, I try to bring in energy in every ball game.”
On why he chose to play at Colorado State instead of Montana or Nevada:
“It seemed like it had family atmosphere. I really enjoyed it. Fort Collins seemed like a really nice place. (Former coach Tim) Miles seemed like a good guy. He left. I was thinking about leaving again. It just entered my mind at the same time. But Larry came in and everything worked out for itself. The guys here,we have really good guys. When we play together, we are really unstoppable.”
On keeping in contact with people associated with Arizona:
“I still talk to some people. I still talk to some writers that I know. I talk to Kevin Parrom a little bit. I talk to some of the players and some assistant coaches. I still have some contacts there and my mom does as well. I still watch them. They beat Florida. I still watch them. It’s not like I hate them. Nothing like that. It’s just support. That’s the type of guy that I am. Even though everything happened for a reason, I still have a big heart. That’s the thing about me. I’ll keep smiling. I’ll look back and smile and keep walking.”
On how he’s handling the cold climate of Fort Collins, Colo., after living most of his life in arid Arizona:
“It snowed like crazy before we left. I have a car and I just hate it. I hate the snow. I am Phoenix born and raised and I just hate it, but I fight through it just like practice. It’s all good. It’s good for me on the court being so tired. It’s good for me off the court getting used to somewhere else away from home.”
On how he is improving his defense:
“Just stay in front of my guy. Help side, doing everything what they tell me. Miller taught me one thing, Miles taught me a different thing and Larry taught me a different thing as well. I’m sticking with Larry because that’s where I’m at now. Just tighten up, get into them, jump to the ball. Hands up. That’s basically it.”
On how he relishes his sixth-man role with Colorado State:
“I like coming off the bench, but hey, if they call my name to start, I’ll be right there. Just looking at the game knowing who does what is what I like about coming off the bench right now. Looking at the scouting report, knowing what I have to do. That’s what I like. But if I start, I’ll do that too. I’ll do whatever the coaches ask me to do.”
On the competitive nature of the Mountain West conference with the Rams, UNLV, San Diego State, Wyoming and New Mexico:
“It’s becoming a good conference. Damn. They’re up there. Last year, it was terrific as well. The Pac-12 was down a little bit last year. The Mountain West was up there. It’s even more up there. We had players at certain schools sitting out. Now they’re here, including (Minnesota transfer) Colton (Iverson at Colorado State). Now it’s big time.”
On his goals at Colorado State:
“I have goals. One goal at least is to win an NCAA championship. I won one in the eighth grade. I won two in high school back to back. I am trying to take it to the next level. A degree is always good. I love school. But winning the NCAA championship would be terrific especially at a school where no one thinks you can win it.”
On his relationship with Eustachy, who has enjoyed success at Utah State, Iowa State and Southern Mississippi:
“He tells me I’m a very athletic player and that I can do multiple things. He’s very happy with me and that I can be an all-conference player. I know he’s told that to numerous people, but I don’t get caught up in all of that. At the same time, I’m just trying to do everything he asks me to do and what’s best for my team. That’s what is going to get it done at the end of the day is my defense. He said I can be one of the best defensive players he’s ever had. That gives me a lot of confidence. It boosts me up. I have in my head what he said on to the court. My goal is to not let my man score at all.”