Nov 302010
 
Authors: Cris Tiller

It’s time to rebound.

The Colorado State men’s basketball team must respond to its first loss of the season on Saturday against Sam Houston State in the second annual
Mountain West Conference / Missouri Valley Conference Challenge.

The Rams’ (2-1, 0-0 MWC) MVC opponent is the Drake Bulldogs (2-3, 0-0 MVC), in the 10th meeting between the two schools and the fourth in Moby Arena.

CSU currently holds the series lead at 5-4.

Two of Drake’s three losses on the year have come against Iowa State and St. John’s by an average deficit of 45.5 points.

In CSU’s only loss, defense was the biggest problem, as the team blew a 14-point first half lead and fell 92-81.

Rams’ coach Tim Miles has been pleased with the way his team has responded in practices after a loss.

“They’ve responded fairly well, I’d say. Our practices have been decent,” Miles said. “They’re really attentive to detail on the game plan, but you got to go out and earn a victory. And that’s what we intend to do.”

Senior forward Travis Franklin is the leader on the offensive side of the ball early in the year with a team-high 18.7 points per game, but knows defense will lead to more wins.

“We’ve made (defense) a big issue now,” Franklin said. “We feel like our defense let us down last game, so we don’t want that to happen again,”

As far as the offense goes, two straight 20 point games have Franklin feeling sure of himself.

“I have a lot of confidence. I just got to stay aggressive and keep attacking,” he said.

CSU’s defensive effort will have to start by slowing down the Bulldogs’ leading scorer Rayvonte Rice, a 6-foot-4 freshman guard from Champaign, Ill.

Rice scores 12 points per game and averages 5 boards a contest as well.

The team as a whole only averages 60 points a game.

Drake also shoots just 37 percent from the field, so it could be the perfect opportunity to show off the Rams’ new commitment to defense.

Another problem that hampered CSU in last Saturday’s loss was poor shooting from three-point range, making only 6 of 26 attempts.

“We’re a good shooting team, it’s just some games you can’t get it to fall and I think that was one of those games,” sophomore guard Jesse Carr said. “Unfortunately, it was our defense that really was supposed to save us in a game like that, and I think it will from here on out.”

Miles, in addition to stressing defense, wants to improve the team in another, less tangible, area.

“My focus is getting us sharper. When a team is mentally sharper they more readily compete and better things happen,” Miles said. “You make free throws, you’re sharper on offense and you’re attentive to defense. That’s been my thing, to give them that mentality.”

CSU’s first chance at redemption starts at 6 p.m. The game will also be televised on The Mtn.

Men’s Basketball Beat Reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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