When a team has 25 losses in one season as CSU did last year, there are going to be plenty of chances for revenge the next season.
After throttling the Grizzlies of Montana last Friday, the CSU men’s basketball team hopes to exact revenge on some Bears when their nearest rival, the University of Northern Colorado comes knocking on Moby Arena’s doors on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.
UNC dropped the Rams last season 72-59, UNC’s first victory against CSU since 1986. The memory of the final buzzer sounding as UNC fans stormed the court is sure to fire the Rams up, in addition to the game rivalry.
“We treat UNC with as much respect as Colorado or any of the other big teams in the state, as far as scheduling home-and-homes. It is just as well attended as the other big rivalries that we have,” CSU head coach Tim Miles said.
“It was a great atmosphere last season at the Butler-Hancock Pavilion, and we will need our fans and students to get out and support us as well.”
The Rams were not happy about the loss last season and feel they must step up and perform better in front of their home crowd.
“We realize that (last season) was the first time we have lost to them since (1986), and we’ve just got to have pride; it’s not even revenge. It’s pride in program in our program here and our university, and we need to go out and work hard,” said sophomore center Dan Vandervieren. “I think just as far as having school spirit and wanting to be crowned the best team in the state, it is important for us to beat the other Colorado teams,” said senior guard Marcus Walker.
Walker added he is out to settle the score with two of his former teammates from Indian Hills Community College, Robert Palacios and Jabril Banks, after they got the best of him last year. Rebounding is crucial for the Rams this year. In last season’s match-up, UNC had 19 offensive rebounds and 43 total rebounds, while the Rams trailed at 25 total rebounds.
The Rams know that this is an area that they must improve on if they want to win.
“They are great at getting offensive rebounds and we are only OK at defensive rebounding,” Miles said. “We have to the right mentality on the boards, and we have to hang around in that area.”
The Rams’ three new, big men — Vandervieren, sophomore forward Andy Ogide and junior forward Mame Bocar Ba — will be key to this mentality even though they didn’t play against the Bears last year.
“If we focus on one thing, on film and talking to the coaches, it is that we need to get every offensive rebound on our end and get every defensive rebound on the other,” Vandervieren said.
The 6-foot-11-inch Vandervieren, who was originally going to sit out the season for the Rams due to shoulder and ankle injuries, decided to return after taking two months off.
This decision is a huge but limited boost to Rams’ line-up.
“I’m not looking to come out here and play a lot of minutes, I am just looking to help,” Vandervieren saud, estimating his health level at 80 percent.
The Rams know the Bears will be a stiff challenge but feel they will match-up better than last season.
“UNC plays with a lot of intensity; they are hard nosed, they get after it and they are a physical team,” Walker said.
“I think that we have a different style than they do, as we are a little more fast break and finesse. But at the same time we have more physicality this season, and we will have to use it against teams like them if we want to win games.”
Men’s basketball beat reporter Matthew Pucak can be reached at email@example.com.