Itâ€™s time to rebound.
The Colorado State menâ€™s basketball team must respond to its first loss of the season on Saturday against Sam Houston State in the second annual
Mountain West Conference / Missouri Valley Conference Challenge.
The Ramsâ€™ (2-1, 0-0 MWC) MVC opponent is the Drake Bulldogs (2-3, 0-0 MVC), in the 10th meeting between the two schools and the fourth in Moby Arena.
CSU currently holds the series lead at 5-4.
Two of Drakeâ€™s three losses on the year have come against Iowa State and St. Johnâ€™s by an average deficit of 45.5 points.
In CSUâ€™s only loss, defense was the biggest problem, as the team blew a 14-point first half lead and fell 92-81.
Ramsâ€™ coach Tim Miles has been pleased with the way his team has responded in practices after a loss.
â€œTheyâ€™ve responded fairly well, Iâ€™d say. Our practices have been decent,â€ Miles said. â€œTheyâ€™re really attentive to detail on the game plan, but you got to go out and earn a victory. And thatâ€™s what we intend to do.â€
Senior forward Travis Franklin is the leader on the offensive side of the ball early in the year with a team-high 18.7 points per game, but knows defense will lead to more wins.
â€œWeâ€™ve made (defense) a big issue now,â€ Franklin said. â€œWe feel like our defense let us down last game, so we donâ€™t want that to happen again,â€
As far as the offense goes, two straight 20 point games have Franklin feeling sure of himself.
â€œI have a lot of confidence. I just got to stay aggressive and keep attacking,â€ he said.
CSUâ€™s defensive effort will have to start by slowing down the Bulldogsâ€™ leading scorer Rayvonte Rice, a 6-foot-4 freshman guard from Champaign, Ill.
Rice scores 12 points per game and averages 5 boards a contest as well.
The team as a whole only averages 60 points a game.
Drake also shoots just 37 percent from the field, so it could be the perfect opportunity to show off the Ramsâ€™ new commitment to defense.
Another problem that hampered CSU in last Saturdayâ€™s loss was poor shooting from three-point range, making only 6 of 26 attempts.
â€œWeâ€™re a good shooting team, itâ€™s just some games you canâ€™t get it to fall and I think that was one of those games,â€ sophomore guard Jesse Carr said. â€œUnfortunately, it was our defense that really was supposed to save us in a game like that, and I think it will from here on out.â€
Miles, in addition to stressing defense, wants to improve the team in another, less tangible, area.
â€œMy focus is getting us sharper. When a team is mentally sharper they more readily compete and better things happen,â€ Miles said. â€œYou make free throws, youâ€™re sharper on offense and youâ€™re attentive to defense. Thatâ€™s been my thing, to give them that mentality.â€
CSUâ€™s first chance at redemption starts at 6 p.m. The game will also be televised on The Mtn.
Menâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.