Snow and cold are about to set in on Fort Collins, but the CSU men’s basketball team is dealing with winter extremes a bit earlier.
The team got any early jump on its Thanksgiving break with a trip to Fairbanks, Ala., to take part in the BP Top of the World Classic, where they will match up with the Oregon State Beavers tonight at 10:30 p.m. MST.
The Rams are pleased about playing in the tournament setting, seeing it as a very important chance to prepare for the season.
“I am looking forward to the competition, but I am not looking forward to a high temperature of 6-degrees,” coach Tim Miles joked. “Any competitor enjoys tournament competition, so this is a great opportunity for us to improve.”
The players are also ready to play, but they are equally excited with the opportunity to travel to a unique location.
“I am definitely looking forward to making the trip to Alaska. Everyone doesn’t get to travel like that, but it will be another chance for us to get better,” said junior guard Marcus Walker. “Hopefully we will get to do something that I haven’t done before.”
Walker’s goal was likely accomplished Wednesday, as the Rams were scheduled to go dog sledding.
The extracurricular activities may be fun, but the Rams know that the focus will still have to be basketball.
The Rams are coming off a tough 75-39 loss to Montana in their season opener, in which Miles said the Rams panicked in the second half. This makes a good performance in Fairbanks even more important, to get the confidence rolling.
“It is going to be critical for our confidence, as we have no home games until (Nov. 28). It will help us in the long run,” Walker said.
Each off the eight schools participating in the tournament will play three games in four nights, and after opening against the Beavers, the Rams will either play host Alaska-Fairbanks or Tennessee State on Saturday.
Miles feels the variety of teams and styles of teams that the Rams will face will be a great learning experience for his team.
“In a tournament setting you need to be ready for everything because you are going to see everything. Tournaments allow you to see and address issues of your team, and we have plenty of issues,” he said.
Miles adds one for next season
While Miles was out of town Wednesday, he was still able to announce that Jesse Carr, a 6-foot-2 guard from Ainsworth (Neb.) High School, is the first player to sign a National Letter of Intent to join the Rams next season.
Carr averaged 23.6 points as a point guard last season and led Ainsworth to a Nebraska state title last season. He scored 68 points in a game during his sophomore season, the most scored in Nebraska since 1960.
Miles feels that Carr will fit in very well with the Rams next season.
“Jesse is a young guy who can play point guard but also has the ability to play the two guard,” Miles said. “In our style of basketball, I think he will flourish.”
Miles will have to wait until the spring and summer recruiting period to sign recruits to fill out the next year’s class.