Kevin Price commentary on Columbus State basketball: Time to note CSU Cougars' progress under Robert Moore

kprice@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 8, 2012 

It lasted only 24 hours, but it was more than four years in the making.

Columbus State took sole possession of first place in the Peach Belt Conference Western Division standings with its win over Georgia Southwestern on Monday night.

Montevallo won Tuesday night and regained a tie with Columbus State. The two teams had been tied since Montevallo lost last Wednesday.

With each team having one more game Saturday, there is a distinct possibility that when CSU hosts Montevallo on Feb. 15, the teams will play for the division lead.

By itself being in the lead or even tied for the division lead for a proud program such as Columbus State doesn’t really mean a whole lot with the exception that the top four teams in the division advance to the conference tournament.

Neither does the fact that Monday’s victory was CSU’s fourth in a row. Four straight wins is not usually a reason for celebration -- except when you consider that the last one came in the 2006-07 season.

Neither does a 13-8 record with five games remaining in the regular season. But the Cougars are almost assured of a winning season.

Again not usually a reason to break out the balloons and throw a parade. But again you have to go back to that 2006-07 season to find one in which the Cougars finished with an above .500 record.

Leading the division, a four-game win streak and finishing with a winning record mean little to second-year head coach Robert Moore, who remembers the glory days for the CSU program under Herbert Greene.

Moore was an assistant to Greene for six seasons (1994-2000). During that period, CSU won one Peach Belt title, won the conference tournament three times, advanced to the NCAA Division II tournament three times and made it to the Sweet Sixteen twice.

“I miss those glory days,” Moore said.

Moore also had a close-up view of how quickly the program declined after Greene left. Moore was the boys coach at Brookstone as CSU struggled to three-straight losing seasons under Doug Branson.

Moore’s first season also ended with a losing record at 11-15 as the team struggled in close games, going 3-7 in games decided by six points or less.

“Those days live on in my mind,” Moore said. “It is what drives me every day.”

Moore said he makes sure his players know how far the program had fallen.

“When we recruited players such as Paul Darkwa, Steve Peterson and Jarmarquis Steverson, we felt like, if we could stay together, we could get it turned around,” Moore said. “Now these guys are playing with so much confidence.”

Moore said the goal this season has been to win the PBC tournament, which will be played at CSU next month.

“Anything less we don’t want to think about,” he said.

Kevin Price, kprice@ledger-enquirer.com

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