Feb 152004
 
Authors: Vince Blaser

The CSU men’s basketball team may be reeling after four straight

conference losses, but they are hoping a big crowd and a national

television audience will turn things around tonight.

The Rams (11-11 overall, 3-6 Mountain West Conference) will take

on Brigham Young (15-7, 5-4) tonight at 10 p.m. at Moby Arena. The

game will be televised on ESPN, part of the network’s Big Monday

package, which features three college games.

“It’s a real treat for us, we don’t get too many opportunities

to host Big Monday’s,” CSU head coach Dale Layer said.

ESPN has a contract with the Mountain West to show an MWC game

in the final game of the Big Monday tripleheader. Even though the

game will not start until midnight Eastern Standard Time, CSU

players are still excited for the opportunity to play in front of a

national audience for the second time this season and the first

time at home.

“We’re gonna be real pumped,” freshman point guard Dwight

Boatner said. “The whole country will be watching and an extra

boost for us will be the home court. We can’t lose two in a row at

home.”

The Rams lost their first Big Monday contest of the season 67-49

against Utah in Salt Lake City on Jan. 19. CSU athletic media

relations director Gary Ozzello said the Rams rarely get to play in

more than one Big Monday game a season and ESPN may have decided to

televise the Rams more this season because of their run to win the

Mountain West Tournament last season.

He also said the athletic department hopes to get a big crowd

for the game to help showcase the university. Boatner said the

players would really like to see more fans come to all the

games.

“We need the fans, they’re an important part of what we’re

doing,” Boatner said. “When we go out on the road, the other team’s

fans pack the house and get on us and we need that same kind of

love. We need them to show us the same love those other fans show

their teams.”

Last year on Big Monday, the Rams took apart New Mexico 74-58 in

front of 5,389 fans at Moby. Layer said he hopes there will be a

large student turnout for the game, even with a late start

time.

“A lot more students are up than town folk,” Layer said. “We’re

hoping it’s one big party.”

If the Rams are going to make it a party, they will have to

start playing better than they have in the last three games, all

conference losses. CSU has been one of the streakiest teams in the

nation this year. They won four straight games in late December and

early January, only to lose the next four, and their current

three-game losing streak follows three straight overtime wins.

The Rams have been hindered of late without their leading

scorer, 7-foot center Matt Nelson, in the lineup. Nelson has missed

the last three games with a sprained left knee and likely will not

play Monday.

Point guard Micheal Morris said the Rams need to stop making

excuses and start a new winning streak.

“It’s a big game for us,” Morris said. “We need to turn this

around and defend our home court.”

BYU heads to Fort Collins coming off three straight wins,

including beating Wyoming 67-53 Saturday in Laramie.

Without Nelson, the Rams may have their hands full with Cougars

center Rafael Araujo, who averages 18.2 points and 10.2 rebounds

per game. Guards Mark Bigelow and Mike Hall also average double

figures in scoring for BYU, and they should face a good matchup

against Boatner and Morris.

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