Feb 022012
Authors: Kyle Grabowski

The CSU basketball team will play its last home game until Feb. 18 on Saturday when Air Force visits Moby Arena at 3 p.m.

CSU (14-7, 3-3 MW) has struggled away from home in conference play so far this season, losing three straight games in blowout fashion, highlighted by a 19-point stomping at UNLV Wednesday.

“It’s a good way to release some anger (from the loss),” CSU senior Will Bell said. “We’re pretty good at home, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Air Force (11-9, 1-5 MW) has struggled in conference this season, losing five out of six games after starting the season 10-4.

“They’re always a dangerous team, especially since they have nothing to lose,” Bell said. “It’s always a trap game for us.”

One of the primary reasons Air Force remains dangerous in spite of their record is the Princeton offense they run.

“We have to stay disciplined throughout the game and keep it at bay, not letting them get the things they want to,” junior Greg Smith said.

CSU defeated Denver, another Princeton-style team, earlier this season, but players insist Air Force’s version is a different animal.

“They don’t deviate out of it,” Smith said. “They just run it and run it and run it, and if we let them keep on running it, they’ll run it down our throats.”

The Rams did not defend the Princeton well in the team’s last meeting –– a 74-57 setback that put one of the final nails in the coffin of the team’s NCAA Tournament chances.

“We need to make sure that we pay attention to detail and guard it right,” Bell said.

The other factor that could keep Air Force in the game is its defense. The Falcons enter the game ranked third in the Mountain West, holding their opponents to 58.8 points per game.

That, combined with a fairly lackluster offense (last in the conference in scoring), forces Air Force to play at a sluggish pace.

“Since their offense isn’t that great, I wouldn’t imagine they’d try to make it a fast-paced, fast-break type of game,” Bell said.

At whatever tempo the game is played, CSU will be ready due to the balance of its offense.

“We can play either way. I feel our offense is really efficient,” Bell said. “We can run the ball or play in the half court, which is where I think we can give them some problems.”

CSU should also be able to give the Falcons problems on the boards, as Air Force is one of the few teams statistically worse at rebounding the ball then the Rams.

“We have to make sure to cut down on their second chances and keep them out of the game,” Bell said. “I think that’s the only way they’d really be able to stay in the game is by us giving them second chance points.”

Men’s Basketball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

Characteristics of the Princeton offense
•constant motion
•back-door cuts
•disciplined teamwork
•slow developing to keep score low

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