CSU basketball teams open with games against UCCS

The CSU men’s and women’s basketball teams tip off the 2013-2014 season with a double header at Moby Arena Friday night, with both teams taking on the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.

The women’s team started off the preseason with two commanding exhibition victories over Colorado School of Mines and Black Hills State. In their first regular season game, the Rams look to see if their up-tempo style will yield victories for them like they have seen in the past two games.

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“This is a team that we don’t have anything on this year, this is their first game against outside competition so were going in a little blind and so our preparation has been all about us and doing what we do really well,” head coach Ryun Williams said.

This game serves as an early test for both the men’s and women’s teams, and both teams realize that they aren’t any guaranteed wins in college basketball.

“We do know that they are picked to win the RMAC, and thats a really solid Division II league,” coach Williams said. “So we’re going to have to play well for sure.”

After struggling to a one-point win Saturday against Regis in their exhibition opener, the men’s squad will look for a stronger defensive effort against a UCCS team coming off of an 85-81 exhibition loss to Wyoming.

UCCS returns all five starters from last year’s team that led the RMAC in offensive and total rebounding and was fourth in rebounding margin and blocked shots. Head coach Larry Eustachy believes Saturday night will be a good test of this team’s rebounding ability against a team that outrebounded Wyoming 34-31 last Thursday.

While the Rams hold a size advantage at almost every position, the rebounding battle most likely will come down to whoever wants it more.

“We’re really going to be tested by these guys, this team outrebounded Wyoming the other night. One of the best rebounding teams I’ve had, the tallest guy was 6’6″. So I think when it comes to rebounding, size is overrated,” Eustachy said.

After receiving news that starting point guard Jon Octeus may have a torn meniscus in his knee, Eustachy feared that he may have to go without one of his top players. However, Octeus has participated fully in practice this week and will be good to go for tonight’s regular season opener.

“His knee is feeling pretty good so he’ll start. He will just have to play until he gets tired. He’s probably our most instrumental player just because of the position he plays, he’s our quarterback so we’ll need to him play a lot of minutes and to really play well,” Eustachy said Thursday after practice.

One of the biggest keys to Friday’s night’s game will be if the Rams can assert their dominance early and avoid letting the Mountain Lions hang around until late in the game. Unlike Saturday’s game against Regis, this game counts, something not lost on junior forward JJ Avila.

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“We really just have to settle down when we get out on the court. We were really excited to get out there against Regis and obviously had a lot of adrenaline for our first home game. If we come together and play the way we can, we can beat anybody,” Avila said.

The men’s game begins at 5:30 and the women will follow immediately after.

Sports writers Keegan Pope and Hannah Cornish can be reached at sports@collegian.com.