It has been an up and down season so far for the CSU men’s basketball team, but tonight it will be looking for the Moby Maniacs to help it rebound from a tough loss.
Coach Tim Miles will be at the helm for his first regular season home game tonight at 7 at Moby Arena against Arkansas Pine-Bluff (1-4), and he and his young team are looking forward to a hometown crowd.
“It will be a great experience. I am eager to go out and perform. Eventually I want to fill Moby,” Miles said.
Miles isn’t the only newcomer to CSU (3-2), which is ready to experience its first real game in Moby. All but two Rams have played in just the two exhibition game wins earlier this season.
“It’s gonna be exciting to see what this place will be like,” said guard Willis Gardner, a junior college transfer.
Fellow junior college transfer Marcus Walker said that he has been asking the two returning players, centers Stuart Creason and Ronnie Aguilar, what a game day is like.
Both those players, however, know that while the fan support will be important, they will have to step up their play on the court if they want to get a win.
After winning the Top of the World Classic title, the Rams may have been a little full of themselves before their 73-53 loss on the road at Stanford last Saturday, but they feel Miles got them in line this week.
“After winning the tournament in Alaska, we were a little overconfident going to Stanford, but coach brought us back down this last week. We are still excited to get a home win though,” said Walker, who leads the Rams with 16.8 points per game, keyed by his 43 point outburst against Tennessee State.
Miles describes Arkansas Pine-Bluff as a “game bunch,” and that the Lions have an experienced roster that could give the Rams trouble. To counter this, Miles has spent time focusing on the Lions flex-motion offense, but he is also trying to get more leadership out of his few veterans.
“I would say that those oldest guys (Creason, Gardner, and Walker) need to take on more vocal leadership roles, because when we run into trouble, we need a coach on the floor, but nobody has stepped up,” Miles said.
While the Rams veterans are attempting to step up to please their coach, they admit it has been a challenge for them.
“Coach (Miles) is going to make me be a leader no matter what. I don’t like being a vocal leader, but I will do it because I just try to do whatever to make coach happy,” Walker said.
Arkansas Pine-Bluff comes into the game winless on the road, with a 78-59 loss Monday night to Wyoming, but they have been competitive in almost every contest.
CSU faces a tough stretch in the next few weeks, so they know a win tonight is important.
“We have no choice but to win,” said Gardner.
Men’s basketball beat reporter Matthew Pucak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.