Having played three games in four nights, CSU’s men’s basketball team now faces the daunting task of playing on the road during Thanksgiving break.
“That’s part of the routine of being a college basketball player,” head coach Dale Layer said. “That’s the price you’ve got to pay to play Division-I basketball.”
Coming off a championship performance in the Dell Black Coaches Association tournament, where they outscored their opponents by an average of 19 points per game, the 3-0 Rams now turn their attention to next week. The team faces Texas A&M-Kingsville Nov. 25 at Moby Arena followed by a two-game road trip.
The team has played tough so far this season using both its inside and outside forces to keep opponents off balance, and the Rams plan to continue to use that strategy next week.
“Weve got to control the tempo and keep our opponents out of the paint,” said senior forward Brian Greene, who was named the BCA tournament MVP after averaging 21 points per game. “If we show we can pound the ball inside and be effective, that will get our outside guys some open looks.”
The key outside threat for the Rams, senior guard Andy Birley, had his shot falling during the tournament – hitting 10 of 18 three-point attempts – and is not looking to slow down.
“Myrole on this team is to be an outside threat,” Birley said. “That is what the team needs me to do.”
After Monday’s game against A&M-Kingsville, the Rams travel to Southern Illinois University for a Nov. 28 game against a team that went 28-8 last season and reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.
“You have to play better on the road, especially against a team like Southern Illinois,” Layer said. “These games will test us in a way we haven’t been tested yet.”
The Salukis of SIU have four starters returning from last season’s team, including leading scorer and team leader Kent Williams.
“We beat them last season in Moby,” Layer said. “They open this weekend so we haven’t had a chance to see them play, but we know they are an extremely tough opponent.”
Following the Nov. 27 match-up and a Thanksgiving Day break, the Rams head to Alltel Arena at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock on Nov. 30 to face an experienced Trojan team that returns all five starters from last season’s 18-11 team.
The Rams should have some added pop to their rotation with sophomore guard Freddie Robinson expected to return as early as Monday, Layer said.
“We played a tough three games in four nights and are still short-handed,” Layer said. “We are anxious to get some guys back soon.”