Two seasons ago, UE traveled to Colorado Springs, Colo., for a Sunday afternoon game against Air Force – the Aces’ first in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.
They were able to leave early enough to acclimate to the thin mountain air for two days before dropping a 57-56 decision to an Air Force team that made a postseason appearance that year.
And for Saturday’s game at Colorado State?
“With school in session, we’re not able to do that, and I think we’ll just have to see how it plays out – not make a big deal of it,” said coach Marty Simmons.
UE’s team plans to leave Thursday night and fly commercially Friday morning to Colorado, allowing for about 24 hours on the ground in Fort Collins before a 3:30 p.m. CST Saturday tip against the Rams.
“I think our guys are pretty well-conditioned, and we’re going to get out there and practice in the afternoon Friday,” Simmons said. “If guys are winded or whatever, that’s where we’ve got to have guys on the bench step up.”
UE hasn’t won yet in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge, which is in its final year. The Aces also lost last season to TCU in overtime at the Ford Center.
This year they’re up against a Colorado State team that returns three starters from last season’s NCAA tournament team, is 5-0 and receiving votes in national polls.
“I hear it was crazy to breathe there,” said freshman D.J. Balentine, who’s come only as close as Las Vegas to where UE will play this weekend. “We’ll have all day Friday to get used to the air, so we’ll be ready for Saturday.”