MISSOULA – It’s a good time to be a Montana Griz fan. The mens’ team leads in the Big Sky Conference, undefeated for conference play. They’re 6-0 in the conference and 13-5 overall.
Head coach Travis DeCuireh and players attribute this success on the court to hard work and team work, but they say they’re focusing on each game as it comes. Coach DeCuire says he’s telling his boys to treat each game as if it was a championship final.
“We just have to have a sense of urgency with every possession, every play, every loose ball, every rebound. We want them all,” he said. “We have to compete every possession from start to finish. When we do that, we’re a good basketball team, and we’ve done that lately. So now the question is can we sustain it, and that’s the new challenge.”
That sense of urgency and treating each game as the most important game of the season has led the Griz men to unparalleled success in the conference.
This Saturday, they face their greatest rival in the Montana State Bobcats who are 2nd in the conference at 4-2.
The players say their top priority is to stay focused and not rest on their laurels.
“We have a tendency to be complacent, and you know guys sometimes let up, so trying to just stay humble, you know, we’re undefeated right now but that could easily be taken away from us,” said Griz mens basketball player Ahmaad Rorie. “We could lose a couple games here and there, so we’re just trying to be consistent, you know, and just stick with our winning coach and things that help us win. That’s been our main thing right now this week. We have a good week, we’re playing our rivals.”
The Lady Griz are also occupying the Big Sky’s top spot, though they’re sharing with Northern Colorado. Lady Griz head coach Shannon Schweyen says a series of wins have fired them up.
“They’ve experienced a little bit of success and they like the way that feels and it’s motivated them to keep working hard,” said Schweyen. “We went through a lot last year together as a team and a lot of ups and downs, and they’re just really focused on making the most of every opportunity.”
They’re 5-1 in the conference and looking to make that 6-1 this weekend against the Cats. Coach Schweyen says their success thus far in the year is pushing the ladies to reach new heights.
Jace Henderson says they play aggressively, and have no intention of stopping.
“We still are always going to play with a chip on our shoulder because that’s just how we play: very intensely, but yeah we are technically sitting better than the Cats are right now. But you know, match ups and just everything changes once you play a team, so we’ve got to go in there and be very serious,” said Henderson.