When it comes to rivalries at CSU, the Rocky Mountain Showdown is the undisputed king.
But ask senior guard Cory Lewis and he’ll tell you that bad blood between CSU and Colorado-Boulder can be found on the basketball court too.
“They hype it up a lot,” said Lewis. “It will be a big win come tournament time.”
Lewis and the Rams have the chance to beat CU in both football and basketball in the same year – for the first time since 1999 – on Saturday in Boulder, at the Coors Event Center. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.
Even junior guard Tyler Smith, in his first season in Fort Collins, knows the significance of this weekend’s game.
“It’s always been a big rivalry for years before we got here,” he said. “We just have to hold it down for CSU.”
The Rams enter the game riding the momentum of a five-game winning streak.
Meanwhile, the Buffs are off to a slow start under lame duck Head Coach Ricardo Patton, and have yet to surpass CU’s football team’s win total from this past season.
But don’t think for a second that the Rams are taking the game lightly. CSU knows it will be playing in a hostile environment and will be pleased with a win of any kind.
Limiting the production of CU’s best player, junior guard Richard Roby, will be key for a CSU victory.
“I think he averages like 20 shots a game, so he’s looking to score before he passes,” said Smith.
Roby was an All-Big 12 first-team selection last year and had plans of moving on to the NBA last spring before pulling out of the draft and returning to Boulder for another year.
Roby, the cousin of Denver Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin, managed only ten points in CSU’s 84-83 thrilling victory last year.
“That was a huge deal for us (last year),” said Rams Head Coach Dale Layer.
“He’s a guy that can beat you. He’s very offensive-minded and very good, so if we can hold him to ten, 12 or 15 points we have a chance.”
Layer said that stopping senior guard Dominique Coleman and freshman guard Xavier Silas – the son of former NBA player and coach Paul Silas – will help the Rams defensively.
Offensively, Layer said he expects the Buffaloes to play a lot of zone defense against the Rams.
The coach also commented on the rivalry aspect: “It’s an important part of it. Everyone knows CU (Boulder) is a rival. Hopefully we’ll be excited to go up there to a place we haven’t won at in a lot of years.”
Admission to the game at the Coors Event Center is free to those who donate a new toy to the Marine Reserves’ Toys for Tots program.
Men’s basketball beat writer Sean Star can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.