With only five players returning from last year, the Rams men’s basketball team will open its season against with an exhibition game against Division II Regis tonight at 7 p.m. at Moby Arena.
The Rams will display nine newcomers on a team that went 16-15 last year and are predicted to finish 7th in the 2006-07 Mountain West preseason Media Poll.
CSU may be a youthful team, with only two seniors, but the players that are returning all have significant experience. Junior forward Jason Smith became the Rams first ever all-MWC first team performer last year, and was named to the preseason All-MWC team this year.
Senior Cory Lewis, who led the MWC in assists last year, will get the nod again at point guard, while forward Freddy Robinson is the only other senior who returns after averaging 5.7 points per game last year.
Head Coach Dale Layer is excited that the Rams are returning to the court.
“We are a little banged up and a little sick, but we are excited to play someone else,” said Head Coach Dale Layer after practice Monday.
He stated that some players may sit out this game due to sickness or injury, including junior center Stuart Creason, who sat out practice Monday, and Smith, who has minor tendonitis in his foot, will see how it feels.
The Rams’ players are also very excited to start the year, and they have a good feeling.
“We are looking for passion, energy, and execution,” said Robinson on his expectations for the game. “Everybody is on a good vibe about this team. We are working hard and having fun with one another.”
The game will mark the first basketball game with the “Green Machine,” a larger and newly-named student section at Moby Arena.
The Regis Rangers were 12-15 overall last year and return just 3 letterwinners. The Rams lead the overall series 22-7, including an 87-51 victory in Moby last year.
Tyler Smith, a highly regarded Northeastern Junior College transfer, will be sitting out this game and the next exhibition game due to a suspension, but he will be able to return for the regular season opener.
Basketball beat writer Matt Pucak can be reached at email@example.com.