Mar 122012
 
Authors: Kevin Lytle

When the CSU men’s basketball team found out its seeding on Sunday for the NCAA Tournament it apparently took coach Tim Miles all of about two minutes to soak in the accomplishment before he started worrying about first-round opponent Murray State.

Miles showed up to a press conference with local media about 30 minutes after the selection and he was already clutching a thick file full of advanced stats on the Racers.

And in a video by the CSU Athletics Department showing the reactions to the seeding it shows Miles congratulating his players before it cuts to him saying “Isaiah Canaan, I know he’s a pain in the butt.”

Isaiah Canaan is the point guard for Murray State. He leads the team in scoring at 19 points per game and shoots 47 percent from 3-point land.

He is a finalist for several awards that go to the top point guards in the country and he scored over 30 points four different times this season, with the highest being a 36-point outburst against Southern Miss.

“He can single-handedly take over a game,” Miles said after practice on Monday.

Defending Canaan will be a task for everyone on the team, Miles said. With a guard-heavy lineup like CSU’s, there are a number of players that have the skill set necessary to defend the 6-foot guard.

“I think we’re going to throw different guys at him, switch up how we guard some things and see what works,” guard Dorian Green said. “It’s going to be team defense.”

The team will get more into the match up on Tuesday. The players hadn’t watched tape before Monday’s practice and will have, as Miles termed it, “a film party” on Monday night.

The biggest note to come out of practice was that forward Greg Smith, who missed the Mountain West Tournament with an ankle injury, participated in some drills and Miles said that he will be ready to play on Thursday.

For now the focus is more on the mental side of the week. Online projections give CSU around a 40 percent chance of winning on Thursday (10:15 a.m., CBS) while also saying the game will likely come down to one or two possessions.

“I said to the guys, ‘what’s going to be the difference between the two teams?’ It’s going to be how you approach it mentally,” Miles said. “…Don’t worry about seeds, don’t worry about location. It’s a one basket game.”

The team will leave Fort Collins on Tuesday in a 125-seat charter plane. Once in Louisville, the team will have a media session and a practice on Wednesday before opening the Tournament on Thursday.

The time slot on Thursday means that CSU will be the first team to hit the court in the NCAA Tournament, apart from the “first-round” play-in games.

“That’s the only time I got nervous,” Miles said. “…First game of the Tournament, (announcers) Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery, sweat. That’s what you do it for, that’s pretty cool stuff.”

Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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