The University of Northern Colorado will play their first
basketball game since moving to Division I against CSU Monday. The
exhibition game at 7 p.m. in Moby Arena will be the final tune-up
for the Rams before opening the season against BYU-Hawaii.
The game against D-I newcomer UNC should be much different than
the Rams’ first game against the veteran players of EA Sports, a
collection of former college stars. CSU lost the game to EA Sports
82-80 on a three-point buzzer beater. Forward Matt Williams led the
Rams with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
“There’s always something to work on,” Williams said after the
game against EA Sports. “We got to start getting the ball
Center Matt Nelson had 13 points and four assists in the first
game and faced many double and triple teams. The 7-foot junior
expects to receive the same attention from defenses all season. The
Mountain West Conference media selected Nelson as preseason player
of the year in the conference.
“Matt’s going to be able to score, I don’t care how many people
they throw on him,” said head coach Dale Layer. “We double him
every day in practice too, so he’s used to it.”
The Bears only lost two players from last year’s roster. Their
top scorer, guard Sean Nolan, led the Division II North Central
Conference in scoring last season, averaging 18 points per game. He
also led the NCC in three-pointers per game with 2.88.
The Rams are a little banged-up at the point guard position.
Starter Michael Morris played only nine minutes against EA Sports,
while nursing a sore groin. Point guard Derrick Stevens has battled
tendonitis in his foot and did not play in the first exhibition
If Stevens and Morris are limited again Monday against UNC,
freshman point guard Dwight Boatner could again receive significant
action. Boatner committed three turnovers against EA, but Layer
said he liked Boatner’s energy and believes he should improve as he
gets used to playing at the college level.
The Bears may have a tough time in their first year in Division
I. UNC went 11-15 in Division II last season with a 3-13 record in
Coming off last year’s run to win the MWC tournament and
appearance against Duke in the NCAA tournament, CSU’s expectations
are higher than they have been for years. They open up the regular
season on Nov. 22 against BYU-Hawaii at Moby Arena.