The madness doesn’t start until March but get your sneakers,
shorts and ball ready. It’s college basketball time. November marks
the start of the season as teams finish up fall practice and start
to refine their skills for the upcoming season.
The Rams were expected to contend for the Mountain West
Conference crown last year only to endure a season with two harsh
realities: a 12-16 record and a last place finish in the
conference. With a quality core of returning starters coming back,
seniors Matt Nelson and Matt Williams and junior Michael Morris,
are looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the second time
in two years.
With an excellent recruiting class coming in this year, the Rams
look to see an immediate impact. Sean Morris, Jason Smith and
Andrew Patterson look to help CSU return to the expectations set a
“They are all capable of helping immediately on this team,” said
head coach Dale Layer. “We are proud of their accomplishments and
are extremely pleased with what they are doing.”
With goals of winning the Mountain West Conference and going to
the NCAA Tournament, Nelson and Williams hope to make their last
year here a good one.
“We need to lead by example out there,” Williams said. “We need
to help the younger guys out on where they need to be and feed off
Last year was a tough season for the Rams due mostly to
injuries. Nelson was hampered last year with bad knees and Morris
with an ankle sprain. When healthy, the Rams beat teams like Purdue
and Air Force, who were both ranked in the top 25 at the time.
“We were a banged up team last year, but when we were healthy,
we had a good team,” Layer said. “Hopefully this year we will have
better luck with that.”
The Rams were picked to finish sixth in the conference this year
by a coaches’ poll at the beginning of the year. UNLV was picked to
finish first, followed by defending MWC Tournament champions, Utah,
while defending regular season champions Air Force was picked to
“It doesn’t really matter to us where we are picked to finish,
we will prove that out on the court,” Layer said. “All that is
based on last year, we have more depth this year.”
Air Force was the surprise team last year, picked to finish last
in the conference and end up winning the conference out right.
“They came out of nowhere,” Nelson said. “Teams will be gunning
for them this year.”
Over the summer the Rams traveled outside the country to Mexico,
for a chance to play against some great teams and come together as
a team. Playing in front of big crowds, the Rams competed in five
games during the road trip, winning three of the five.
“The experience was terrific for our guys, it turned out to be
really positive,” Layer said. “The extra practice that we got will
help out too.”
The Rams begin their season at 3 p.m. this Saturday in a home
exhibition game against Northern State.