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Season in review: A look back at the Montana Grizzlies 2023-24 campaign

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Posted at 4:45 PM, Mar 27, 2024

MISSOULA — Basketball season is in the books for the Montana Grizzlies, as UM finished its run in the College Basketball Invitational earlier this week. Montana defeated Presbyterian in overtime in the first round before seeing its season end against Arkansas State in the second round on Monday.

The 2023-24 season saw Montana again have ups and downs as a veteran team that brought a lot back from the previous campaign.

The Grizzlies finished the season 24-12, and they split the season series with Weber State, but were swept by both Eastern Washington and Northern Colorado and swept Montana State in the regular season.

In non-conference and Big Sky play, as they've done in recent years, the Griz won a few games to get momentum but couldn't sustain lengthy streaks of success as they figured out this year's team, but in the end Montana made a run to the Big Sky tournament title game for the first time since 2019.

With a shot at the NCAA tournament on the line, the Grizzlies fell to the rival Bobcats in their third meeting to halt their goals of standing atop the conference once again.

The Griz will say goodbye to seniors Aanen Moody, Dischon Thomas, Laolu Oke and Josh Vazquez, four players with strong impacts over the last several years.

Four-year point guard Brandon Whitney was honored on senior night, but has one year of eligibility remaining so he could come back or compete elsewhere.

From there, the Griz will be tasked with replenishing their roster as head coach Travis DeCuire completes his 10th year at the helm, but enters the final year on his current contract with UM as the Grizzlies will try to end the program's longest championship drought since the 1980s.

DeCuire, who has led Montana to five Big Sky tournament championship games and two NCAA tournament appearances, won his 200th game when the Grizzlies defeated Idaho State in the tournament semifinals, and with 201 wins at UM, he sits well within range of George Dahlberg's all-time wins record of 221 heading into next year.

Talent like sophomore Jaxon Nap, junior Te'Jon Sawyer, freshman Chase Henderson as well as standout freshman Money Williams, who missed most of the season with injury, are set to be back and serve as building blocks for next year's team, as the Grizzly program enters a pivotal offseason after coming up just short of being Big Sky champions, and looks to get back on top in 2025.

Others like junior Blake Jones and senior Giordan Williams also saw key minutes this season and could play a big factor into next year.

It's been since 2019 that the Griz were champions of the Big Sky, and heading into next winter, the road to getting back there starts now for UM.