Jan 242002

There’s no place like home.

At least that’s what members of the CSU men’s basketball team (8-9 overall, 0-3 Mountain West Conference) have been told. They wouldn’t really know first hand.

When the Rams take on Air Force on Saturday night (Moby Arena, 1 p.m.), it will be their first home game in three weeks and their first home MWC game of the year.

The Rams are hoping the familiar surroundings can help them get back on track.

They’re also hoping that the injuries will subside a little. The Rams have been handcuffed by injuries for most of the season, and this game will be no different.

The Rams will again be without two regular starters. Seven-foot freshman center Matt Nelson has been out nearly a month with a toe injury. He is expected to return to the lineup soon, but is not expected to play against Air Force. Junior swingman Ronnie Clark injured his thumb before last weekend’s disastrous road trip and will be out indefinitely.

Head coach Dale Layer said he hopes to have as many of his injured players in the lineup as possible Saturday.

With all the injuries, the Rams will look to junior forward Brian Greene to continue his stellar play, in hopes of getting their first conference victory of the season.

Greene, who is coming off a career-best 32-point, 11-rebound performance against UNLV, will be joined in the starting lineup by juniors Andy Birley and Quantone Smith, along with senior forward Matt Brown and freshman guard Jon Rakiecki, who continues to fill in for suspended junior guard Joe Macklin.

Notching their first conference win won’t be easy, though.

The Falcons are 7-10 on the season, but are coming off an impressive 74-64 victory over conference power BYU.

Air Force has legitimate scorers in senior guard Lamoni Yazzie and sophomore forward Joel Gerlach. The Falcons are also one of the better defensive teams in the conference.

CSU freshman swingman Freddy Robinson thinks the Rams will be prepared.

“We’ve been injured,” Robinson said. “But it’s been good to get other guys in the game. That will give us a certain lift when our guys get back. We are focused enough to get things back on track.”

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