Most of the players on the Colorado State men’s basketball team don’t know just how hostile an opposing team’s crowd can be. But they may find out quickly tonight.
When the Montana Grizzlies host the Rams at 7 in Missoula, Mont., the Rams will be introduced to the “Zoo,” Montana’s student section that is moving, for one game only, to the seats right behind the player’s benches. Montana’s administration has publicly challenged the students to show up and impact the game, ensuring a wild environment.
This could be a very big challenge for the young Rams, who return just two players from last season, but they are embracing it, as the Mountain West Conference is loaded with tough road venues.
“They have moved the student section over behind our benches, just for this game, so it will be loud. I think the key for us will be to get over that first wave of the crowd and then settle into our game,” said senior center Stuart Creason, who averaged 22 points during the Rams’ two exhibition wins this season. “Road games are the best and hardest games to win, but with our conference, it is good to start with so many tough road games. It will only help us later.”
Creason also added that the Grizzlies will look inside for most of their points, as they have a large front court.
Of Montana’s three returning starters, senior forward Andrew Strait led the Grizzies with 15 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season. Strait is joined by junior forward Jordan Hasquet, who averaged 13 points per game. The Grizzlies finished last season 17-15, good for third in the Big Sky Conference.
The Rams also have some quality players outside of Creason, especially in freshman guard Josh Simmons and fellow freshman forward Andre McFarland. Both fared well in the Rams’ exhibition games, as Simmons averaged 18.5 points and McFarland, despite a slow start to his first game, averaged 17 points.
The Rams know the exhibition games don’t mean anything, but they want to prove their two wins were no fluke against a quality Division-I opponent.
“I’m really excited to go. No one can say it is just and exhibition game anymore. It will be nice to prove how good we are,” Creason said.