BOZEMAN — While most Big Sky Conference basketball teams tipped off league play in 2020, Montana State entered the new year with no conference games under its belt. That’s set to change later this week when the Bobcats hit the road to Northern Colorado for a two-game slate against the Bears.
“Our guys, they're just hungry to play a game," said MSU head coach Danny Sprinkle.
The Bobcats were preparing for Southern Utah last week, but their two-game slate was canceled last minute because of positive COVID-19 tests within the Thunderbirds' program.
“I know our guys were pretty disappointed after practice, and I knew we had to try to find a game for them. We tried to find a Division I team to play, but it was just hard," explained Sprinkle.
However, the Bobcats did find a last-minute opponent: Montana Western. The Bobcats cruised by with a near 30-point victory, which was headlined by Amin Adamu’s double-double.
“He’s grown more on and off the floor than maybe any player I’ve coached in a year span," said Sprinkle. "He did not rebound to our expectation the first couple of games. I was glad he did against Western, but now he’s shown us he can get 12 in a game, so that’s what we’re going to expect on Thursday night.”
Rebounding has been an ongoing team issue this season. While the Bobcats nearly lead the Big Sky in scoring offense, their rebounding has ranked them as one of the worst scoring defenses.
“Field goal percent, defense-wise, I think we’re one of the top teams in the conference, but giving up offensive rebounds, that’s a whole other story," added Sprinkle. "We have to get better at that.”
It’s something the Bobcats will need to improve before squaring up against one of the Big Sky’s most dominant scorers, Bodie Hume.
“He’s hard to guard because he’s 6-(foot)-8 and can shoot it from deep," said Sprinkle. "When he gets going from the 3, that’s when he can really hurt you, so we just really have to limit his 3-point attempts and make him beat us with tough 2s.”
Hume isn’t MSU's only challenge heading into Thursday.
“Northern Colorado has played four league games," said Sprinkle. "League games are different than non-conference games. They’ve played four league games. We’ve only played four Division I games total this year. It’s a big advantage for them. It’s not going to be an excuse Thursday night, but there’s going to be those types of scenarios throughout the next two months.”
The Bobcats will kick off their two-game slate in Northern Colorado on Jan. 7.