After a good start in the exhibition season and growing expectations from fans, the CSU Rams finally have a chance to prove themselves when it matters.
The Rams are in Oregon and only hours away from starting the 2009 season with an appearance in the Basketball Travelers Tip-Off Tournament starting tonight.
CSU will first face off against UC-Davis tonight in Eugene, Oregon, followed by games with Winston-Salem State on Saturday and a showdown with tournament host Oregon on Sunday.
Rams third-year head coach Tim Miles feels confident that CSU is prepared for the regular season after going a perfect 2-0 in exhibition play, but admits the team still has some things to figure out.
“I think we are ready to go,” he said. “We have some new things in place. I’m curious to see what’s going to go on against division 1 competition. We are going to be a work in progress early.”
Forward Andy Ogide agreed with his coach and said the tournament will be a nice change of pace from the daily grind of practice.
“We’re ready to get going and actually play a game that counts,” the junior said. “I’m excited to be up in Oregon. I think it’s going to be a good tournament.”
Although he doesn’t have a starting line up set in stone, Miles explained he has seven guys he won’t hesitate to put on the court at any time including Ogide, Travis Franklin, freshmen Pierce Hornung and Dorian Green, Andre McFarland, Harvey Perry and Adam Nigon.
Even though this year’s edition of the Rams have yet to play a single minute of the regular season, Miles explained that they are already closer-knit than any other CSU squad he has coached.
“This is the most together team I have had a Colorado State,” he said. “This is the team that rallies around itself the most and looks out for each other.”
McFarland, a forward and the only player on the Rams who has seen playing time with Miles all three years, didn’t hesitate to agree with his coach.
“We actually hang out and do team things all the time,” the 6-foot-6 junior said. “We’re always eating and doing things like that — always joking with each other. It’s more of a team than I’ve experienced since I’ve been here.”
Although he is pleased with the Rams’ unity, Miles knows that it takes more than that to produce wins. The South Dakota native explained that what the team really needs is confidence.
“There is no question our togetherness is good,” Miles said. “That means something now, but in terms of confidence, we have to earn that. Until we go out and earn it, we won’t have it.”
Tip off of tonight’s game is scheduled for 5:30 pm.
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com.