More than a month of practices, plenty of inter-squad scrimmages done, and its exhibition game a week ago, it is finally time for the regular season to begin for the Colorado State womenâ€™s basketball team. Tonight the Rams host the Panthers of Northern Iowa to tip off the 2010-11 season at Moby Arena.
CSU is coming off an exhibition against Colorado Christian last Friday, where all 10 Rams accounted for points in their 81-75 victory.
Northern Iowa, who won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament last year and earned schoolâ€™s first bid to the NCAA Tournament, brings in an experienced team of fundamental players who will be a good test for the Rams to open season.
â€œI expect a tough game, so weâ€™re going to have to bring our best defensive effort,â€ said CSU coach Kristen Holt.
Though Holt was happy with last weekâ€™s game, she focused the team on turnovers, rebounding and defensive transition in this weekâ€™s team preparation.
â€œTheyâ€™re a really fast team. We have to sprint back on defense, and we canâ€™t take one offensive or defensive possession off,â€ said junior forward Chatilla van Grinsven.
In what the team called the best week of practice this year, CSU feels confident going into the season opener.
â€œWe feel confident. Weâ€™re focused. All we have to do is be ready for tomorrow and execute,â€ said senior guard Zoe Simmons.
In last weekâ€™s exhibition game Holt mixed up lineups throughout the game to get the whole team good playing time, but she knows that strategy changes once the regular season starts.
â€œWeâ€™re going in to win this game, and weâ€™re going to use the lineup that gives us the best chance,â€ she said.
The Rams, who are coming off a 13-17 campaign last season, want to start this year off on the right foot. Thereâ€™s no better way to do that then get a win at home to tip it off.
â€œTo beat a post-season team like that, overcome that adversity as a team, it would be an awesome win, and we hope the fans come out to support,â€ Holt said
Three Rams added for the season:
Ladeyah Forte from Pensacola, Fla., Morgan Hunt of Colleyville, Texas and Kara from Rocky Mountain High School all signed National Letters of Intent for the 2011-12 season.
Spotton, ranked in the top 100 of ESPNâ€™s Hoop Gurlz rankings, will add depth at the forward position, and Hunt and Forte will bring energy at point guard.
Holt is excited about the three additions for next yearâ€™s team and feels they all bring positive elements.
â€œWe are very excited about the addition of Ladeyah, Morgan and Kara,â€ Holt said. â€œThey are very good basketball players, but, more importantly, they are quality students and people with strong values. I really believe this class will help us build the program of excellence that we are all working toward.â€
Womenâ€™s basketball Beat Reporter David de Besche can be reached at email@example.com.