For the second game in a row, the Colorado State menâ€™s basketball team will try to defend its home court against a bunch of Bulldogs. The Rams play host to Fresno State Saturday at 7 p.m.
CSU (3-1, 0-0 MWC) was blown out in last yearâ€™s contest with the Fresno State Bulldogs (1-3, 0-0 WAC), 73-50, on the road.
However, the team CSU put out on the court a season ago was vastly different from the one it competes with now.
Additions of true guard play from Iowa State transfer Wes Eikmeier and the return of Jesse Carr, who sat out with an injury redshirt for most of last season, open up the floor for talented big men.
Senior forward Andre McFarland has been through several versions of CSU basketball and likes what the Rams have now.
â€œThe group is a lot more mature,â€ McFarland said. â€œWe weeded out some of the guys that were like a cancer to the team. We got this good group of guys around us now thatâ€™s about winning and going out and doing the right thing.â€
CSU coach Tim Miles has been impressed with McFarlandâ€™s attitude this season.
â€œI really like his mentality and his approach this year,â€ Miles said. â€œHeâ€™s done an excellent job being a leader and one of those senior guys you can count on.â€
McFarland had his re-emergence Wednesday, scoring 16 points thanks to shooting 4-of-8 from behind the arc.
The Rams have managed to score far more than the 50 points they were held to last year against Fresno State, averaging nearly 80 points a game this season.
CSUâ€™s new guards deserve a lot of the credit coming in to help sophomore Dorian Green carry the load of running the offense.
â€œLast year we just had Dorian out there as the only true guard,â€ said the teamâ€™s leading scorer, Ogide. â€œNow we got Wes, Jesse, Dwight (Smith) and Greg (Smith) to handle the ball. Itâ€™s just huge for us.â€
Carr and Eikmeier are the top two on the team in assists per game.
Fresno State, on the other hand, has struggled up to this point in the season, winning only one game and scoring below 60 points per game.
The Bulldogs have shot 19 percent from three point range and only 54 percent at the free throw line.
Fresno State has a Greg Smith of its own, leading the Bulldogs in scoring at 8.8 points per game and rebounding with 7.5 boards a game.
Saturday also marks the first time this season the Rams will play a game with only two days in between to prepare.
â€œI think it will be easy because most of us like to play games,â€ Ogide said. â€œGames are what we came here to play.â€
After an embarrassing loss at the hands of Fresno State last season, motivation shouldnâ€™t be hard to find.
â€œAll I have to do is show the final score from Fresno,â€ Miles said. â€œThis is a fun game against a future conference opponent. Iâ€™m excited to get Fresno in here.â€
The first 500 students in attendance at Saturdayâ€™s game may take their ticket to the north side of Moby Arena to redeem a voucher for a free slice of pizza from the concession stands.
Menâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at email@example.com.