The CSU womenâ€™s basketball team is trading the 30-degree weather of Fort Collins for 70 degrees and a match-up with a Top 25 team in Tallahassee, Fla. tonight. The Rams (0-1) tip off against the 14th-ranked Florida State Seminoles (2-0) at 5 p.m. to mark the start their first road trip of the season.
The Rams, who are coming off a season-opening loss to Northern Iowa Friday, know it will be a good test this early in the year.
â€œWe know they are a very good athletic team,â€ CSU coach Kristen Holt said. â€œItâ€™s good for us to play in that environment and see what the best in the country looks like.â€
The last time CSU played an opponent this highly ranked was in March of 2008 at the Mountain West Conference Championships, when the Rams upset No. 12 Utah 60-52. To repeat those results, CSU knows it has to fix the turnovers from last week and play stout defense.
â€œWe definitely need to take care of the ball and play good defense to get stops,â€ freshman Sam Martin said.
Martin and junior Chatilla Van Grinsven will have their hands full down low with FSU having two big strong forwards in Natasha Howard, averaging 17 points per game, and Cierra Bravard, averaging 13.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game.
Holt and her coaching staff have implemented some new looks on defense and some quick hits on offense that should help neutralize the Seminolesâ€™ size in the post.
â€œWe want to pack it in down low and want to make them shoot from the perimeter and, offensively, we need to spread them out and get their size away from the basket,â€ Holt said.
CSU sees this as a great opportunity to see what a Top 25 program looks like, as that is what the Rams are striving to become in the near future.
â€œItâ€™s a really big opportunity for us. Itâ€™s not every day that you get to play a team that made it to the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament,â€ Martin said.
Tonightâ€™s game can be heard on the Colorado State Sports Network, 1410-AM. The Rams then travel to North Dakota to face the Fighting Sioux on Monday night before returning home.
This road trip has sparked energy and confidence in the team to face these two successful programs.
â€œWeâ€™ve bounced back from last Friday and we are ready to go,â€ Holt said.
Womenâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter David de Besche can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org