The Colorado State menâ€™s basketball team begins its 2010-11 regular season this weekend, hosting the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff Saturday night.
The Rams enter the season with high expectations and hope to end the campaign with their first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2003. Their prospective road to the NCAA tournament begins with a game against an opponent whoâ€™s been there, done that.
Theyâ€™ll face the Arkansas Pine-Bluff team Saturday that won a game in the NCAA tournament last year. They defeated Winthrop 61-44 in the opening round play-in game.
CSU head coach Tim Miles knows the Rams will need to play their best basketball to win on Saturday evening.
â€œ(Arkansas-Pine Bluff) has great athleticism and are a disruptive team,â€ Miles said. â€œA statement to me would be going out and finding a way to win.â€
The Rams were impressive in their short two-game exhibition season, defeating both Regis and Western State by a combined 78 points.
CSU showed off its improved depth, as five players scored in double-digits each game. Sophomore guards Jesse Carr and Wes Eikmeier led the team in scoring, each averaging 13 points per game in the exhibitions.
Senior forward Andy Ogide knows things wonâ€™t be quite so easy now that the regular season is under way.
â€œWe have to maintain our intensity and not let down, and I think weâ€™ll be alright,â€ Ogide said. â€œWe need to show them that we want to be the ones in the NCAA tournament.â€
The Golden Lions return just one of their top five scorers from 2009-10 â€“â€“ junior guard Savalance Townsend. Reigning from the Southwestern Athletic Conference, the Golden Lions qualified for the NCAA tournament last season despite losing their first eleven games of the season.
â€œWeâ€™ve got good kids, but sometimes they can get a little rattled,â€ Miles said. â€œWe need to go out and play good solid defense, rebound well and then play smart, efficient offense.â€
The Rams were 11-4 at home last year, including winning all nine of their non-conference games at Moby Arena. Ogide and the rest of the Rams are excited to show the CSU community just how good they can be.
â€œItâ€™s easy to find our energy once we get going,â€ Ogide said. â€œHopefully the crowd can help us sustain that energy for 40 minutes.â€
Tip-off against Arkansas-Pine Bluff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Moby Arena.
Assistant Sports Editor Joel Hafnor can be reached at email@example.com.