Nov 182004
Authors: Paul Baker, Scott Bondy

Fall Recess begins Saturday, and so does the CSU men's basketball season.

Ready or not, the Rams head into the matchup with Regis University after only two preseason games. The Rams defeated Northern State 80-77 and CSU-Pueblo 90-66.

"We're certainly not a finished product yet," said head coach Dale Layer. "But I think we're ready to face an outside opponent and see where we stand."

The Rams will be looking to continue their streak of 23 straight wins in home openers. With the return of starter Dwight Boatner, who has been out because of a leg injury, the Rams look to combine an athletic backcourt with their 7-footers Matt Nelson and Stuart Creason down low. Boatner, a sophomore, closed last season by scoring in double figures in eight of the team's final 11 games.

"It's going to be fun and exciting to get back out on the court," Boatner said. "I'm going to try to bring energy and some defense to the team."

The Regis Rangers are led by senior Austin Christensen, a 6-foot-5-inch forward who averaged 16.5 points per game last season. But the Rangers appear to be undersized against the Rams, with their tallest player standing at only 6-feet-6-inches.

"We'd like to think our inside game is as good as anyone's that we face," Layer said. "Two of our three guys still have to prove themselves in game situations."

Concentrating on their own strengths in practice this week, the Rams worked on getting the ball down low to the big men in the post.

"We are going to try to get the inside game working early, so it will help our outside shooters," Nelson said.

The Rams have three other games over the break as well. After Regis, CSU hosts Northern Colorado and Nebraska-Omaha, before traveling to Indianapolis and Alabama for tough games against Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis and Auburn.

"It is going to be great to go down there to play. We need to go out there, play hard and get a victory," Boatner said.

CSU finished the 2003-04 season with a 9-4 record at home but a disastrous 3-10 on the road, 0-7 in conference. Going on the road and picking up some victories will be key for the Rams' success this year.

The tip-off against Regis is set for 7 p.m. The Rams will then face Northern Colorado on Monday and Nebraska-Omaha on Wednesday. Both games are slated to start at 7 p.m.

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