Feb 142002

It’s all finally starting to fall into place.

Unfortunately, with the CSU men’s basketball team already 23 games into the season, it might be a little too late.

The Rams (10-13 overall, 1-7 Mountain West Conference) are finally healthy and playing their best basketball of the season. For the first time all year, they started the lineup they had been hoping for at the beginning of the season, and the results were a thrilling 72-69 overtime loss to league-leading Wyoming, and a 70-66 overtime victory over the University of Michigan.

Things are finally going the Rams’ way, but their 1-7 conference record might have them into a hole that is insurmountable.

The Rams do have their confidence back, which will be essential if the Rams hope to build their conference record back up to respectability.

They will try to do just that when they take on the Steve Fisher-coached San Diego State University (14-10, 3-6) at Moby Arena at 7 p.m. Saturday night.

“We’ve been working real hard,” said junior guard Joe Macklin, whose overtime heroics against Michigan provided the winning margin. “It’s been tough losing the close ones, and this last time we battled back. Our confidence is definitely up.”

One thing is for sure: the Aztecs will definitely see a different CSU team than they did earlier this season.

In that game, an 81-69 SDSU victory, the Rams were missing three regular starters. Macklin missed the game due to a suspension, along with freshman center Matt Nelson and junior swingman Ronnie Clark, who were both nursing injuries. The game wasn’t a blowout, however, and the Rams were able to keep it close behind 19 points from junior guard Andy Birley and 16 from junior forward Brian Greene, before the Aztecs eventually pulled away behind 21 points by Aztec senior guard Al Faux.

But Saturday’s games definitely won’t be easy for the Rams. CSU will once again have to contend with Faux, who is averaging almost 17 points a game, along with senior forward Rodney Holcomb, who is leading the Mountain West in both scoring and rebounding.

The Rams will once again look to Greene, who has scored in double figures in his past 18 games, and Birely to lead them against San Diego State, but they can also expect sizable contributions from Clarke, Macklin and Nelson.

“This is the lineup we had initially penciled in,” head coach Dale Layer said. “We’re finally starting to regain our health. And when we’re healthy, I see us as a good basketball team.” n

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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