CSU basketball players enjoy atmosphere of tournament in Las Vegas

The in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2011.
The in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CSU basketball boarded their charters yesterday for Sin City. However, the Rams aren’t starting spring break early.

Instead of taking advantage of free drinks and penny slots, the only Vegas code CSU is looking to abide by is to return home without any regret, seeking success in the Mountain West tournament.

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“We’ve been trying to express how cool and how big of a deal it is to the freshman,” forward Sam Martin said. “We’ve also talked about all the different distractions in Vegas, there’s lots of things to do but we’re there to do our thing, and that’s to win.”

The Thomas & Mack Center is playing host to the tournament for the seventh consecutive year. The arena is more than twice as big as Moby Arena, capable of holding 19,522 people at capacity. Every game will be shown on a national level, being covered and broadcasted by CBS Sports Network.

Tickets for the lower bowl section of Thomas & Mack are expected to sell out, and tickets on the secondary market have reached prices of $265 each on websites like StubHub.com.

“The atmosphere of the tournament is so unbelievable,” CBS Sports Network announcer Steve Lappas said. “You look at the great conference tournaments around the country like the Big East has always been, the ACC has always been, this tournament and they way people are into it is as good of an environment as you’re going to find anywhere.”

“I coached so many years and have seen them all, lots of them, and this one here at the Thomas & Mack is tremendous.”

This year’s trip to the tournament is projected to be bigger than ever.

With the completion of the most successful men’s regular season in history, as well as taking 50 Ram Ruckus members on a bus for the road trip, director Tim Brogdon expects a turnout more impressive than years prior.

“If it was anything like our trip to Wyoming, it’s going to be loud and proud up there,” Brogdon said. “We’re ready to bring it, it’s going to be a ton of fun. We’re bringing those super massive big heads, we’re bringing flags and extra shirts, we’re ready to rock and roll.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams have packed enough clothing for a four day stint in the desert with hopes they will have to use them all.

“I think it’s the most fun part of the season, just getting down here and playing when it’s crunch time; this is when it really counts. We still have a lot to prove and I think we’re going to play that way,” men’s guard Wes Eikmeier said.

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You don’t need to be a Vegas guru to understand the stakes of the tournament. The rules are simple: if you win you live to see another round of play, if you don’t, you’re sent home early with your season potentially in the books.

“If the season ended right now, we’d be pretty disappointed,” Eikmeier said. “We’re going to be a really determined team out there in Vegas, we’re looking forward to it.”

Men’s Basketball Beat Reporter Quentin Sickafoose can be reached at sports@collegian.com.