BOZEMAN – The Montana State women’s basketball team starts conference play Thursday and they are ready.

“We’re excited to start 0-0. It’s kind of like a new season. So we are prepared and we’re very excited,” said senior guard Hannah Caudill.

The Montana State women’s basketball is moments away from starting Big Sky play against Southern Utah tonight. The Bobcats come in to Big Sky play with a chance to three-peat as champions. But that isn’t their mindset.

Story continues below

“I think we’re focused on Southern Utah. And if we can stay in the present, use our philosophy of ‘Chop Wood, Carry Water’ that’s where we are going to get better,” said head coach Tricia Binford.

That mantra comes from the book by the same name, Chop Wood Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf, which the team read in the fall.

“It’s a story of a young boy learning how to become a samurai and he gets ahead of himself of wanting to be great right off the bat. And true greatness is one day at a time of just focusing on the daily details of what it takes to be great,” Binford said.

The book has helped the team focus on the small things they need to do to remain a Big Sky powerhouse. And they know the areas they need to improve on coming into Southern Utah.

“I think taking care of the ball. They’re a run and jump team, they pressure a lot, they throw random traps,” Caudill said. “So I think we really have to focus on taking care of the ball and not making careless mistakes or turnovers and unforced errors.”

Taking care of the ball is crucial against the Thunderbirds, one of the best steal-point teams in the Big Sky. And MSU is ready to step up.

“It’s game time. And we are getting closer and closer to tournament time and obviously the ultimate goal is to get to the NCAA tournament again. But every game is our biggest game, so we’re not really focused on the long term right now,” Caudill said.

And from here on out, every game will be their toughest challenge of the season.

“When you step on the court in the Big Sky, you’ve got to be ready to go,” Binford said. “Every night is a championship type of game.”