BILLINGS — One of the new twists for Rocky Mountain College — and all Frontier Conference basketball teams this season — is playing weekend-only league games. For Battlin' Bears men's basketball coach Billy Dreikosen, the new slate rattles his cage and dusts off some cobwebs.
“Back to the old Frontier when I played," Dreikosen recalled to MTN Sports with a fond smile, "... and you’d play each other back-to-back.”
Dreikosen ran the floor at Rocky in the early 1990s, so this year's schedule feels a bit like Back to the Future.
He says to look for more up-tempo play from this year's squad.
“We’ve got a lot more athleticism this year. We’re going to be a lot quicker, a lot faster, a lot more athletic this year," he said.
Dreikosen and his crew are eager to rebound from last season's 7-22 finish (1-17 Frontier).
Rocky was scheduled to host a season-opening pair of doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday against Montana State-Northern, but those games had been postponed at the time of this writing on Thursday afternoon. That means the Bears are on target to open a week from Saturday, Dec. 12, at Carroll College.
Though no spectators are allowed at the Fortin Center at this time, all Rocky games are scheduled to be streamed on the school's website at www.gobattlinbears.com.
“We’re trying to push it up, get it up the court in about two or three seconds each possession," Bears forward Kelson Eiselein said. "Trying a little up-tempo pace.”
And players are looking forward to it. "Up tempo" will be the opposite of what most endured at home over the summer. Some players worked jobs, others worked out. Eiselein’s trip home was a short drive to Roundup.
“My dad’s friend’s dad is still working construction at 73 year -old and he took me on," Eiselein told MTN Sports. "I helped shingle roofs two summers ago. Then I worked a little bit with him this summer siding houses and shingling roofs.”
Eiselein said he actually likes shingling a little more despite the sheer heat and steep roof angles. He said he also helped "spruce up the school" in Roundup this summer.
Bears guard Darius Henderson is a California guy, so his summer options were a little tighter amid the pandemic.
“I’m from L.A. so it was really strict," Henderson told MTN Sports. "I kind of took it back to the old days, back to the basics. I’d try to find a park, play outside or, if my friend had keys to the gym, we’d sneak in and kind of get it in that way.”
Growing up in East L.A., Henderson said he bleeds blue in a different sports arena as a die-hard Dodgers fan. Of all the summers in his lifetime for fans to be locked out — and for him not to be able to catch a single game in person — it had to be this year they when won it all after coming up short since Henderson graduated from high school.
“(They reached the) World Series four years and we finally won it for the first time, so I was kind of excited," he said proudly. "I used to always go to games back when they had Matt Kemp. Clayton (Kershaw) has always been there. Back in the day I used to always go, but as I got older time got kind of busy so I couldn’t go. I kind of watched it from a distance.”