Feb 122004
 
Authors: Josh Pilkington

The Rams’ search for their first road win in Mountain West

Conference play will have to wait; the team’s challenge now is to

protect its home court against conference favorites Utah (18-5, 6-2

MWC) and Brigham Young (14-7, 4-4).

The challenge begins in a Valentine’s Day match-up Saturday at

Moby Arena at 7 p.m. CSU comes into the game smarting from a

two-game southern road swing that took the team through losses in

Albuquerque, N.M., and Colorado Springs. The latter, to the

surprising Air Force Falcons, marked the first time since the

1988-89 season that CSU had been swept in a season series against

Air Force.

Harsh road trips aside, head coach Dale Layer said his team is

centered on Saturday’s game.

“Our focus right now is on Utah,” Layer said in a postgame

interview following the 44-52 loss at Air Force.

With 7-foot center Matt Nelson expected to sit out his fourth

consecutive game with a knee injury, the Rams will look for

consistent scoring from forward Matt Williams, whose 11.1 points

per game are second on the team to Nelson’s 14.6, and the weekly

improvement from the team’s trio of freshmen: Dwight Boatner,

Phillip Thomasson and Stephen Verwers.

“They haven’t just been given minutes, they’ve earned their

minutes,” Layer said of the trio whose playing time has increased

each game.

Another source for offense could be sophomore Freddy Robinson

who showed flashes of offensive brilliance in Monday’s loss at Air

Force.

“Freddy came up big for us (Monday night),” Layer said of the

forward who posted a team-high 15 points in the loss. “He showed us

a lot.”

Utah’s motivation may go beyond winning a conference game as the

team’s head coach, Rick Majerus announced Wednesday that he would

not return to the bench this season, and possibly ever, due to

reoccurring heart problems.

“There’s always that motivation,” said Utah guard Nick Jacobson

of winning one for Majerus. “But our focus needs to be on (Colorado

State), not on coach.”

In the teams’ last meeting Jan. 19 at the Huntsman Center in

Salt Lake City, Jacobson led the Utes to a 67-49 win scoring 18

points, while Richard Chaney added 16.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and the first 500 women through the

doors will receive a free floral gift.

Hopefully, the Rams can give fans a similar heart-warming

gift.

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