The school has only had a men's program since the 1966-67 season, and it wasn't until 1984-85 that it made the jump to Division I. The Cougars' record since then has been an underwhelming 202-502.
Last season Chicago State didn't get a postseason bid despite posting a 19-13 record. In fact, the school has NEVER made a postseason appearance.
The closest CSU ever came was its last season as a member of the Mid-Continent back in 2005-06. The Cougars advanced all the way to the Mid-Con Tourney final as a sixth seed before falling to top seeded Oral Roberts by an 85-72 count.
Since then, life as an independent wasn't taking the program anywhere it wanted to go, so that's why joining the Great West Conference this season was so important. In hoops, there's definitely strength in numbers.
While an NCAA Tournament bid isn't available to the league just yet, there's still a postseason brass ring. The of this year's Great West tourney will get an automatic bid to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
For a school like CSU, such a bid would mark a new era for the program. However, year one in the Great West hasn't been a smooth ride for head coach Benjy Taylor's team.
Coming into this campaign, the Cougars returned only one starter (forward Carl Montgomery) off of a team that set school records for points scored (2,869) and total rebounds (1,289).
That inexperience was a big factor in the nine-game losing streak that the Cougars endured from late December into January. The last four of those losses were the team's first four Great West games, all of which happened to be on the road.
But CSU appears to have righted the ship in the last week by getting into the positive columin in league play with wins over Utah Valley and Texas-Pan American.
Although the Cougars are currently in the conference cellar, Taylor's team appears to have weathered the storm and created some positive momentum.
Leading the resurgence has been Montgomery, who posted two double-doubles last week en route to being named Great West Player of the Week. He's arguably playing the best basketball in the league right now.
Also heating up in recent weeks has been combo threat Kabangu Tshinga Kasamba. The 6-5 tweener has posted four consecutive double digit scoring efforts after averaging 3.2 points in the six games before that.
Due to the quirkiness of the inaugurial Great West schedule, CSU has two upcoming games against first place South Dakota. That'll tell us a lot about this team's prospects headed into the conference tourney.
But regardless of how things shake out this season, this program now seems poised to break into the postseason in the very near future.
A big reason for that is Taylor's ability to recruit the talent-rich area right around the school. There are 10 players on the current roster who hail from Chicagoland, eight of whom cut their teeth as preps in the tough Chicago Public League.
It seems that after 25 years in Division I, Chicago State is finally ready to start building some tradition. And it'll have a distinctly local flavor.