LAS VEGAS — If Colorado State is going to advance beyond the Mountain West semifinals, the Rams will likely have to do it without their starting point guard.
Senior Dorian Green sat out Colorado State's quarterfinal victory against Fresno State on Wednesday afternoon as a result of a left ankle injury he suffered in his team's regular season finale against Nevada. Coach Larry Eustachy said afterward Green's injury is a bit more serious than the staff first thought, so there's a "99.9 percent" chance he won't play Friday night when the second-seeded Rams meet host UNLV with a spot in Saturday's title game at stake.
"This tournament is extremely important, but obviously the NCAA tournament is what we've worked for all year," Eustachy said "If there's any doubt at all, he won't play."
The absence of Green would deprive Colorado State of one of its emotional leaders and its top playmaker and perimeter shooter. Green is averaging 13.1 points and 3.9 assists as a senior and he lit up UNLV for 24 points in the Rams' January victory over the Rebels.
Colorado State managed to rally from a three-point halftime deficit against Fresno State without Green, but the Rams clearly aren't as dangerous offensively with junior Jon Octeus starting in Green's place. Octeus had nine points, three assists and zero turnovers, but he missed six of the eight shots he attempted.
If Eustachy was straightforward when he said Green almost certainly won't play Friday, then it's a sign Colorado State is willing to sacrifice its Mountain West tournament hopes to ensure Green is as healthy as possible for the NCAA tournament. That's a reasonable stance too because it's unlikely a loss in the semifinals or the title game would damage the Rams' seeding much.
At the conclusion of Wednesday afternoon's quarterfinal, Fresno State coach Rodney Terry paid Colorado State a nice compliment, calling the Rams a "Sweet 16 team." No doubt the Rams are capable of such a run, but they need Green at full strength.