Nov 162003
 
Authors: Vince Blaser

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

inside.”

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

game.

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

the NCC.

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.

 

 

 

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