MISSOULA – The Montana Grizzlies always have high expectations on the court. Right now, they’re meeting them.
The Griz have started 2-0 in Big Sky Conference play after a pair of dominant wins on the road. Montana hammered Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. In the latter, they held a T-Birds team averaging more than 80 points per game to a season-low 49.
The outstanding defense has become contagious, and forcing turnovers is leading to easier offense. Fourth-year head coach Travis DeCuire and many of his veterans admit they don’t remember a stretch where the Griz have played better than what they’ve done over the past five games.
“Trav has been putting a lot of stuff for us to work on. Guys have been executing it,” said junior guard Ahmaad Rorie, who leads the team in scoring (18.4 points per game), assists (3.6), and steals (1.5). “And I think guys are having a lot of fun. I felt like the past couple years I’ve been here it hasn’t been that fun for guys to start off the season, so I think right now there is a lot of fun basketball being played, and everybody is just together.”
“I think we’re in a good spot,” said DeCuire. “The question is, how do we handle the success we’ve had recently? Are we going to be complacent? Or are we going to continue to work? I think right now there’s some hunger. There’s a sense of desperation. You just have to sustain it, and that’s the hardest thing.”
Montana will try to continue the show for the home fans this week. The Griz have not lost in Dahlberg Arena this season, winning all five games by double digits.
The Griz host defending Big Sky champ North Dakota on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Fighting Hawks are out to an 0-2 Big Sky start. Then UM hosts what looks like one of the toughest teams in the conference, the 2-0 Northern Colorado Bears, on Saturday at 7 p.m.