It’s four weeks into the season, and the CSU Rams men’s basketball team is still looking to find out exactly who they are.
The Rams (5-3) are off to a solid start, including an undefeated 3-0 record in Moby Arena, but they are yet to establish their true team identity.
CSU head coach Tim Miles has experimented with several different starting lineups this season and admitted the team still has a lot to find out.
“We’re still kind of in discovery mode to be honest,” the third-year Rams coach said. “We’re thinking about some new lineups so I think we are still trying to discover ourselves, but I like us. I like what we are bringing to the table, I like our work ethic and I like our team togetherness.”
Along with a few key veterans, the Rams have brought an influx of youth to the court in 2009, giving all three true freshman significant playing time.
Greg Smith, one of these freshmen, explained what the Rams are looking like eight games into the season.
“We’re a big time defensive team right now, and with offensive rebounds,” the forward said. “If we do a lot of the little things and hit our stride on offense … then we’ll be pretty good.”
Although the new faces have filled in nicely, CSU is still missing some critical elements due to injury. Forward Travis Busch, who saw his first action of the season last Saturday, missed the first seven games with a knee injury. In addition, point guard Jesse Carr isn’t expected to return to the Rams until after December after suffering an injury of his own last year.
CSU’s next opportunity to discover exactly who they are is set for tonight as the Rams host bitter rival CU-Boulder in the basketball version of the Rocky Mountain Showdown.
Colorado enters the game as the victors in three of their last four contests, including an impressive 84-65 win over Colorado Christian on Monday.
Miles said that this is a much improved Buffs squad, but added the Rams do have certain advantages.
“I think they are head and has played against CU-Boulder the previous two seasons and agreed this Buffs team is better.
“I know they are a lot more improved than what they have been,” Nigon, a junior, said. “They are definitely older, which we are too. I think it’s going to be a battle and the toughest team is going to win.”
Smith grew up a Nebraska fan and has no love lost toward the Huskers’ Big Twelve rival. Now as a Ram, he explained he has the proper motivation against CU.
“Growing up a Husker we never liked Colorado anyway, so being a CSU Ram you know once you get out there with Colorado you have to give it your best,” Smith said. “It’s a big pride thing.”
Tip off for tonight’s game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Moby Arena. As a promotional offer, the first 1,000 fans through the doors will receive free Defend the Fort T-shirts.
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.