They say it’s lonely at the top. If you ask CSU women’s basketball coach Chris Denker, it’s equally as lonely at the bottom.
The Rams, who sit in the basemen of the Mountain West Conference, find themselves in an unfamiliar position after dropping their first two conference games this year, on the road against Brigham Young and Utah this weekend. The Rams lost the two games 71-56 and 73-50, respectively, and have dug themselves a hole early in conference play.
“We didn’t play very well offensively or defensively,” Denker said.
The hole might well be dug from exhaustion because the Rams (9-7 overall) have traveled coast-to-coast since the start of the new year. CSU had games against Boston College and Holy Cross in Massachusetts, and versus Saint Mary’s in California before the team started conference play in Utah. It wasn’t much better before Christmas, with the team traveling and losing to Michigan and Notre Dame.
“It feels like we’ve been on the road since December 20th,” Denker said.
This is almost true. The Rams have had eight road games since Dec. 12, stopping in Fort Collins just long enough to win the Ram Holiday Classic with victories against Stony Brook and the University of California at Santa Barbara.
In those eight away games CSU went 2-6; their only two wins coming against Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s.
To turn the season around the Rams will need to learn to win on the road, and they will have to do that without their starting point guard Elizabeth English, who left the team Monday because of philosophical differences with first-year coach Denker.
Denker said it was determined to be in the best interests of everyone involved with the program if they parted ways.
The coach also said he won’t let English’s departure distract his team as CSU finally returns Moby Arena at 7 p.m. Thursday to continue league play against New Mexico.
“We’re just focusing on one game at a time,” Denker said. “We apparently lack focus as evidenced by this weekend.”
New Mexico (11-3, 1-0) is coming off a convincing 93-57 win over Air Force and will be looking to keep itself near the top of the table and the Rams glued to the bottom.
That will be easier said than done against a CSU team that is 7-1 when playing in front of its own fans.