No white flag yet.
In the midst of a four-game losing streak and with yet another tough conference game tonight, the CSU Rams (15-13, 6-8 MWC) are not ready to stop fighting.
Forward Greg Smith said that the Rams believe they will not only produce a winning season, but also that they will earn an NCAA Tournament berth. The true freshman added that the team is nowhere near giving up.
â€œWe have too much pride for that,â€ Smith said. â€œWeâ€™ve worked too hard this year to see it slip away just like that without having to fight for it. We can still make the NCAA Tournament with a three-game swing.â€
Even with the NCAA Tournament or NIT still a possibility for CSU, the Rams admit that the last two weeks have greatly hurt their chances. Guard Dorian Green explained that the current four-game losing streak has been the most difficult of the entire season.
â€œI think this one is tough just because the last couple games we have been close, but we didnâ€™t execute late,â€ the true freshman said. â€œI feel like weâ€™ve let some get away. I think this is definitely the most frustrating streak weâ€™ve been on so far this year.â€
CSUâ€™s recent troubles started Feb. 17 with a 92-70 loss to the BYU Cougars (26-4, 11-3) followed by a 70-39 loss at UNLV. Last week the Rams lost two games in the final minute, falling 72-66 to New Mexico then 73-67 to Texas Christian on Saturday.
The Rams have a fresh chance to end the losing streak tonight as they travel west to face the San Diego State Aztecs (20-8, 9-5). The Aztecs come into the game also fighting for their tournament lives. SDSU just missed getting into the big dance last season and is determined to make amends this year.
Rams head coach Tim Miles said CSU has had recent trouble with bubble teams, but added he thinks they will have more success this game.
â€œThe last time we played a team that was playing for their tournament lives it was UNLV at UNLV,â€ the third year CSU coach said referring to a 70-39 loss to the Rebels on Feb. 20. â€œI would expect that weâ€™ll be a better challenge now. Both teams have a lot to gain. Both teams have a lot to lose. Thatâ€™s what it is this time of year and thatâ€™s what makes college basketball exciting.â€
The Aztecâ€™s lead the season series 1-0 after beating CSU 64-52 earlier this year at Moby Arena. In the game, SDSU out-rebounded the Rams 40-33, a stat Smith explained has to change if the green and gold want to pull off the upset.
â€œThat (rebounding) is probably their top thing,â€ he said. â€œThey just throw the ball up sometimes and try and go get it. Thatâ€™s one thing weâ€™ve struggled with, especially during the losing streak. A lot of the games weâ€™ve lost, weâ€™ve lost in rebounds.â€
Miles agreed with Smith.
â€œRebounding is a big deal with this team (SDSU),â€ he said. â€œHandling their defensive length and intensity is a big deal to this game too. We just need to go out, play hard and good things will happen.â€
Tip off for tonightâ€™s game is scheduled for 8:30.
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com.
CSU at SDSU
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Where: San Diego, Calif.