Looking for a 6-0 start

Dec 012005
Authors: Trevor Edy

History will be on the Rams' side Saturday when they face Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) in Moby Arena at 3 p.m. CSU is 36-4 under head coach Dale Layer in non-conference home games.

The Rams are currently 5-0 and will look to put themselves into the history book by matching the 6-0 start in 1971, marking the best starting performance in school history.

Led by sophomore center Jason Smith, CSU is off to their best start since the 2001 season. Smith is averaging 21 points and 9.8 rebounds. The seven-foot center garnered MWC Player of the Week honors after three consecutive games with a double-double.

Sharpshooter and fellow sophomore Sean Morris is averaging 13.2 points per game, including a team-high 15 three-point field goals. Morris had a career night against CU finishing with 34 points and tying a school record with nine shot from beyond the arc. The Texas native is presently shooting 48 percent from three-point range.

The Rams, however, will have their hands full with the Jaguars. IUPUI will be coming to Fort Collins with a 3-2 record behind sophomore guard George Hill's 16 points per contest. The Jags have wins over Elon (N.C.), Rice and Indiana Wesleyan, but fell to Winthrop and Western Kentucky.

"They are quick, athletic and try to create mismatches," said head coach Dale Layer of the Jaguars, who were picked to win the Mid-Continent Conference. "Hill could play anywhere in the country."

Revenge will be in order for CSU, as the team was defeated by IUPUI 77-67 early last year in Indiana. Senior Brandon Cole put up 23 points to go along with ten rebounds in the last meeting between the squads. He is coming into Saturday nights game averaging 12.6 points to go along with 7.2 rebounds.

"This is a different game (from last year). IUPUI will play us all zone, something we haven't seen yet for a full 40 minutes," Layer said. "Cole really hurt us last year on the pick and roll."

The Rams are coming off a record-breaking performance by setting a school record for blocks, with 12 against Auburn. They will look to continue to develop their new full court press as well as inside protection of the basket. CSU is averaging 8.5 blocks a game.

"We have to put a lot of pressure on them (Cole and Hill), and not let them get any open looks," said senior guard Micheal Morris.

Although the Rams are currently running on all cylinders; they learned they will be without junior forward Freddy Robinson for some time. CSU officials announced Thursday that the 6-foot-9 swingman had surgery on a nagging knee that has caused him discomfort in the first couple weeks of the season. Robinson has seen little time in two of the five games so far, due to his soreness.

"This is a tough break for Freddy, but we're happy the physicians were able to find out what was causing his discomfort and take care of it," Layer said. "I know that he will work hard to return as quickly as he can. We need him and know that he's going to be a major contributor to our team this season."

Even though the Rams realize they have to go on without one of their veteran leaders, they are still taking it one game at a time.

"We are just trying to keep playing at such a high level," Morris said.

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