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Montana State men’s basketball opens practice chasing improvements in 2018-2019

Posted at 7:00 PM, Sep 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-27 15:23:28-04

(Editor’s note: Montana State athletics release)

BOZEMAN — A lot of familiar faces and a few new ones assembled in Worthington Arena on Tuesday for Montana State’s first full-squad men’s basketball practice of the 2018-19 season. Fifth-year head coach Brian Fish hopes the third segment of his team’s preparation for the new campaign goes as well as the first two.

“I thought we had a good summer practice session, and I thought fall conditioning went very well,” Fish said. “Now it’s time to start working together as a team and get ready for the season.”

Four starters return for the Cats, including leading scorer Tyler Hall, a senior, and junior guard Harald Frey. Senior frontcourt players Sam Neumann and Keljin Blevins also return as starters. Guard Lassi Nikkarinen and redshirt Devin Kirby, a sophomore center who played in 2016-17, give the Bobcats experience at every position.

A host of newcomers enter the season competing for time, as well. Transfers Usman Haruna, a center from East Carolina who the NCAA granted immediate eligibility, junior college forward Ladan Ricketts, and junior college guard Russell Daniels all appear ready to contribute. Freshmen forwards Zeke Quinlan, Jared Martin and Quentin Guliford, along with center Maximilian Schuecker, give the Cats depth across the board.

In the 42 days between Tuesday’s opening practice and MSU’s exhibition game, Fish said the first three weeks will be for evaluation and the second to defining roles. “The first 21 days we’ll be open to using different lineups and seeing how things fit together,” he said. “In the back end we’ll start honing in.”

Fish likes where his team is entering its preseason practices. “I like our talent level, I like the leadership,” he said. “We’ve talked greatly since we got together for the first time on June 15 about getting better today and staying in the moment. And when the calendar flips to tomorrow, we’ll work on getting better then.”