Losing multiple close games last season, it seemed there were times when the CSU men’s basketball team had forgotten how to win.
The Rams won only seven games all of last year and were winless in conference play, so even though the Rams first two exhibition games of the season won’t count in the standings, they know how important it is to establish a habit of winning games this season.
The Rams kickoff the 2008-09 campaign tonight against the Chadron State Eagles (7 p.m. Moby Arena), and they promise they won’t be taking the game lightly.
“We can’t take it as an exhibition, we have to take it as a regular season game, considering how last season went,” said Rams guard Marcus Walker, one of the Rams two seniors.
CSU head coach Tim Miles acknowledged the same fact, mentioning that the bottom line for the Rams was winning.
“For the first two games I am very interested in our guys finding a way to win. Not to worry about game-planning as much, but at the end of the day, we just have to go out on the floor and find a way to win,” said Miles, who is entering his second season at the helm for the Rams.
The Rams are ready to get the season off on the right foot, but they are also just ready to face another team after battling themselves in practice for so long.
“It will feel great. We have done all this hard work in practice, and it will be good to see it pay off in a game against someone else,” said Andy Odige, who will make his debut for the Rams after sitting out last season after transferring from Mississippi.
Odige is one of 10 newcomers who are going to make their debut in front of the Moby Maniacs, but even the veterans are excited for the game as they look to make up for the disappointment of last year.
They expect to get momentum for the whole season rolling tonight.
“You never want to predict anything, but I feel in my heart that we can go out and knock out these first exhibition games. I hope we can excite the fan base and build for the games coming up this season, against Stanford, New Orleans, Minnesota, and then into conference play,” Walker said. “This is my senior year; this is the last go-around for me and (fellow senior Willis Garnder).”
The Eagles return four players from a 7-20 team, and they lost to the Rams 107-76 in an exhibition game last season.
Admission to the game is free, and Miles hoped this would help lure fans to come see the newest incarnation of his Rams in action for first time.
“Its free, so everybody get out and take a look at this group. They’re a good group of guys, that are very likable, and I think our fans will like them,and the way they play,” said Miles.
Basketball beat writer Matthew Pucak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.