It’s been a long, cold winter for the CSU men’s basketball team. Beginning with a road loss to North Dakota State in icy Fargo on Dec. 15, the Rams have since picked up just one win over the break, reeling to a 1-7 record in the past month.
By most accounts, though, things haven’t been all bad.
The team came up just shy in at least four of its losses, dropping two separate three-point games to CU-Boulder and University of Nevada-Las Vegas, an overtime loss to Okalahoma Panhandle State, and last Saturday’s game to Texas Christian, which took a 12-2 TCU run in the last four minutes to decide the close game.
“I think confidence is a big issue,” said coach Tim Miles after the TCU game. “It’s just, when are we going to get one to go our way again? When are we going to get this done again?
“I think nothing can succeed success. In basketball, at the end of the day you’re going to look at the scoreboard and decide who’s successful or not. I’m not going to define our kids by the scoreboard but you can’t help but do it yourself as an athlete.”
Tonight the Rams (6-11, 0-3 MWC) will be looking to get back to their early season form when they travel down to Colorado Springs for a conference game against the Air Force Falcons (10-7, 2-2 MWC).
So far this season the Falcons have been tough at home, posting an impressive 8-1 record in Clune Arena. Their lone home loss came to CU on Nov. 29.
The Rams will be bringing some fire of their own into southern Colorado, courtesy of junior guard Marcus Walker. Walker is averaging 17.2 points per game this season, the most in the Mountain West. He also ranks second on the team in assists, with an average of three per game.
CSU will need solid play from its guards if they want to come away with their first conference win, as the team is currently without the services of 7-foot senior center Stuart Creason.
Creason, who re-injured an ailing foot in practice and hasn’t played in almost three weeks, was a major part of the team’s early successes this season. In his absence, sophomore Ronnie Aguilar has taken over duties as the center position and has played well — averaging 9.3 rebounds per game in the MWC.
Coach Miles has acknowledged the mismatches that the loss of Creason has created, but feels like the play of his guards, particularly Walker and junior Willis Gardner, has kept the Rams in the close games.
“It’s a good problem to have as a player. Being a go-to-guy on a team, I would think that that would be a real neat position to be in. You’ve just got to embrace that,” Miles said.
With the students returning and the microscope turned back on the program, the Rams will be looking to embrace the added pressure with a win against the rival Falcons. Game time is set for 8 p.m. at Clune Arena in Colorado Springs.
Sports writer Nick Hubel can be reached at email@example.com.
CSU at Air Force
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Clune Arena, Colorado Springs
TV/Radio: the mtn/560 AM-KLZ
CSU (6-11, 0-3) Pos. Ht. Pts.
M. Walker G 6-0 17.2
W. Gardner G 6-1 12.5
A. Nigon G 6-3 2.5
A. McFarland F 6-6 7.9
R. Aguilar C 7-0 3.6
Air Force (10-7, 2-2)
T. Anderson G 6-3 14.5
E. Washington G 6-4 7.6
M. Holland F 6-6 5.7
A. Johnson F 6-5 7.6
K. Maren F 6-8 7.4