While most hoops teams will be lulling through exhibition match-ups, the Rams of CSU men’s basketball will be on the floor in Moby Arena playing games that count.
Starting Saturday, the Rams host the three-day Dell Black Coaches Association Invitational tournament that features three strong mid-major teams: Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne, Florida Atlantic and Cleveland State.
By hosting the tournament, head coach Dale Layer said the team has a chance to get off to a strong start weeks before other teams around the nation even begin to play.
“This tournament begins before anybody else opens the regular season,” Layer said. “It’s an opportunity for us to get off to a good start…we hope it can jump start the season.”
Layer added that the BCA tournament is an exempted tournament – like the preseason National Invitational Tournament or Great Alaskan shootout – meaning the games count on every participant’s regular season record.
Aside from giving the Rams a strong start to the season, the tournament also provides exposure to the city of Fort Collins, Layer said.
“It provides us with the chance to bring some national recognition to Fort Collins and get us more exposure as a team,” he said.
Part of that exposure will come in Tuesday night’s finale against Cleveland State, when Fox Sports Net will televise the 8 p.m. game live.
The tournament begins at 1 p.m. Saturday when Cleveland State takes on Florida-Atlantic.
The first opponent for the Rams on Saturday is IPFW, a team that returns three starters and is looking to improve upon last season’s 7-21 record.
Tip-off for the game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., however, due to the previous game, the time is subject to change.
Though the tournament does not feature any teams from the so-called “major” conferences of the NCAA, Layer said the Rams are expecting to face quality opponents in every game.
“Florida-Atlantic went to the NCAA tournament last season and Cleveland State’s coach (Rollie Massimino) won a national championship with Villanova,” Layer said.
As for the Rams, Layer said he expects to use a 10-man rotation with a starting five of senior Andy Birley at shooting guard, freshman Michael Morris at point guard, senior Brian Greene at power forward, sophomore Matt Nelson at center and junior Ronnie Clark at small forward.
Following Saturday’s action, the teams will take Sunday off and resume play Monday with Cleveland State facing IPFW at 5 p.m. and CSU facing Florida-Atlantic at 7:30 p.m.
The tournament concludes Tuesday with Florida Atlantic versus IPFW at 5:30 p.m. and the CSU-Cleveland State game at 8 p.m.