Archive for Friday, December 23, 2005

Bears thrilled by experience

December 23, 2005


They came. They saw. They were conquered. And they loved it.

Northern Colorado's basketball players delighted in playing in Allen Fieldhouse. So what if Kansas skinned the Bears, 85-62?

"It was everything you dreamed of," UNC guard Sean Taibi said of Thursday night's experience. "It was a dream come true."

Taibi, a sophomore guard from Pueblo, Colo., has played at Syracuse's Carrier Dome, and he has suited in Kentucky's Rupp Arena. He'll take Allen Fieldhouse.

"They play football at Syracuse, too," Taibi said. "Here it's all basketball."

What about Kentucky?

"That's a nice place," he said, "but I like how this is smaller and more intimate."

Kirk Archibeque, a 6-foot-9 sophomore from Cortez, Colo., also beat the drum for Allen Fieldhouse.

"I love it," Archibeque said. "I've dreamed of playing here. Everything was nice about it -- the people, the fans, everything."

UNC coach Craig Rasmuson also threw in his two-cents worth about the tradition-rich Home of the Jayhawks.

"We've played in some great venues," Rasmuson said. "This and Gonzaga are the two best. Iowa State is third. Everything here is first-class."

Now that the Bears have worshipped at the KU shrine, they can focus on winning a game. Any game. They're 0-14, they have 15 to go, and they're determined.

"We have to hang in there," Taibi said. "I've never lost this many games since I've been at UNC, but we've got to keep playing."

Added Archibeque: "It is getting us down, but we're going to keep playing. We just have to play hard in the second half of the season, and things will fall into place."

All in all, Rasmuson was not disappointed by Thursday's defeat. The Bears had been averaging 21 turnovers a game, and they cut four off that number. Also, they weren't blitzed on the boards. KU had a slight 34-30 rebounding edge.

"I'm proud of the way our guys played," Rasmuson said. "We're young like Kansas, but we're at the other end of the pecking order. We didn't just get blasted. Our kids played fairly well."

Comparative-score watchers may have noticed that Thursday's final score was similar to the score in UNC's loss to California earlier this month. Cal tripped the Bears, 83-59, in Berkeley, Calif. A week or so later, KU tripped Cal, 69-56, in Kemper Arena.

"They're very young," Rasmuson said of the Jayhawks. "I've seen every Kansas film, and believe me, they've gotten better every game. They're not 6-4 by losing to chumps.

"I thought Cal was better than Kansas," he added, "but Kansas has gotten better, and Cal hasn't."


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