Minutes after its 77-36 blowout win against Texas-Pan American on Saturday, the CSU women's basketball team's players and head coach were already talking about the next game on the schedule. But when CSU's in-state rivals, the Colorado Buffaloes, are next on the schedule, it is hardly surprising.
"This (game) is one that is exciting for everybody; it's a big rivalry" said CSU head coach Chris Denker.
The Rams will head to Boulder tonight to square off against the Buffs in a game that will be seen live on television throughout the state and in surrounding areas on Fox Sports Rocky Mountain.
In the Rams' first televised game of the season, sophomore guard-forward Kylee O'Dwyer said she and the rest of the team are looking forward to proving they are the best team in Colorado.
"You're always excited to play your in-state rival," O'Dwyer said. "We just got to show (CU) who's the best team in the state."
If the rivalry's history is any indication, a CSU win in Boulder may be tough to come by. The Rams are 9-26 all-time against CU and 2-17 in Boulder. However, the Rams have fared better over the last five meetings with the Buffs, going 3-2 during that stretch.
The last meeting between the two teams was in Fort Collins at Moby Arena on Dec. 3, 2003, when the Rams lost 74-81.
CSU is on a four-game winning streak and will head into tonight's game with a 5-1 record. The Buffs are 2-4 after losing to Creighton 84-64 on Saturday.
Despite the Rams' winning record, Denker said that a high turnover rate and sloppy play on offense has been a weakness at times for CSU. The Rams committed 20 turnovers Saturday against UTPA and are averaging 20.8 turnovers per game this season.
Denker suggested that if the Rams play sloppily on offense, they will struggle against CU's defense.
"(We) definitely need to address (our turnovers and sloppy play on offense), because CU will defend you," Denker said. "CU has, for 20-some-odd years, been a solid defensive team."
Through the first six games of their season, the Buffs have averaged 7.7 steals per game and have forced 15.8 turnovers per game.
If the Rams are to sharpen their offense and reduce turnovers, two players who will likely have to play well are starting guards and primary ball-handlers freshman Sara Hunter and junior Vanessa Espinoza. So far this season, Hunter is averaging 8.2 points, 2.67 assists and a team-high three turnovers per game. Espinoza is averaging 12 points, 4.17 assists and 1.5 turnovers per game.
Espinoza said she realizes that if the Rams are to beat a quality defensive team like CU, they must reduce the number of mistakes on offense.
"We're not going to be able to beat teams like CU if we (commit turnovers and have offensive breakdowns)," Espinoza said.
Tonight's game tips off at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events Conference Center in Boulder. Fox Sports Net will broadcast the game on Channel 36 on Comcast Cable in Fort Collins.