It is another tough opponent for the CSU men’s basketball team this weekend, and yet another Ram might not be able to play.
CSU head coach Tim Miles said that guards Willis Gardner and Harvey Perry, who missed the Rams loss to Nevada on Tuesday, would be game-time decisions and would be “questionable to doubtful.”
Forward Andy Ogide, who was limited Tuesday by a sprained toe, is questionable as well, possibly leaving the Rams even more shorthanded for their match-up at Boise State (5-1) on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Their losses have left the Rams (3-4) short on perimeter defenders, forcing freshman Jesse Carr to play more at point guard than what was expected this season.
“I have constantly told Willis (Gardner) in practice that he is our main guy, that he has to be our leader, and Jesse has heard all this. Now, he has to be the man, and he is doing a good job, but he is learning on the fly and getting a baptism by fire,” said Miles.
Carr agrees with Miles, stating that everything is new to him, but he credits the coaches and Gardner with helping him get as comfortable as possible.
“Willis is a real helper, and he does whatever he can to help the team,” said Carr. “He helps me mostly with the mental advice, not telling me what exactly to do on the court, but by telling me ‘I know that you can do it.'”
It will be crucial for the Rams, especially if all three injured players can’t suit up, to get contributions from new sources.
“That is the X-factor; who is going to come in for us and step up,” said Miles. “When Marcus Walker and Willis Gardner were out (during the loss) versus St. Martin’s, nobody stepped up for us. Somebody will have to play at a level that they haven’t so far, especially if Andy is out.”
The Broncos are led by 6-7 forward Mark Sanchez, who is averaging 17.3 points and 7.8 rebounds on the season, but they feature four other players that average over eight points a game.
“They are not just a one man team. They get scoring from everywhere and they are a great transition team,” said Miles. “Our job is to squeeze their fast break, get back on defense and guard them.”
CSU knows the importance of getting buckets in transition as well.
“You always try to run and get easy baskets,” said Miles. “We need to get lay-ups and get our big men running so we can dump it inside.”
The Rams have lost several close games this season, as all four of their losses have come by a combined 16 points. Boise has been the opposite, winning three close contests, including an 86-85 buzzer-beating victory over Wyoming in their last game.
“Hopefully we can learn from our experiences and get better at closing out games,” said Miles. “(Boise) is a great team that was in the NCAA Tournament last season. They have a culture of winning that has become ingrained, and that is where we need to get.”
Men’s basketball beat writer Matthew Pucak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.