BOZEMAN — The stars aligned for Montana State during their last week of Big Sky Conference play, securing a first-round bye in the Big Sky tournament with the No. 5 seed.
"It’s really hard in any league to win four games in a row," Bobcats head coach Danny Sprinkle said. "If you can get that bye it’s huge. That way you get a little bit of the tournament feel while you’re watching other teams play that first day. Then obviously you still have to win three games in a row, but everybody does, no matter if you’re the 1 seed or 2 seed.”
After starting out Big Sky play on a hot 6-0 start, Montana State hit a rough patch on the back half of its season, making it difficult to find a rhythm that the Bobcats would normally like to have by the start of March.
“It has been hard. When you lose, it affects the guys more mentally," Sprinkle added. "Then obviously we got shut down for 10 days right after Eastern (Washington), came back Wednesday and had to play 48 hours (later) in Moscow, Idaho. We were out of rhythm. We didn’t have any flow. It affected us.”
However, the Bobcats did find a way to bounce back, splitting their finals two series against the Vandals and Sacramento State.
“No season is going to be perfect," senior forward Devin Kirby said. "It’s not just going to be a straight incline. It’s going to be peaks and valleys and you’re going to have to go through adversity, but the great teams, they overcome that. They still find a way to continue to stick to who they are while making adjustments.”
"I like where we’re sitting," senior point guard Xavier Bishop added. "We put ourselves in position to still be able to control our destiny. Do I wish we were higher in the standings? Do I feel like we gave a few games away? Yes of course, but I feel like we’ve still played solid so far.”
Looking ahead to Boise, the Bobcats’ mission is simple.
“Just continue to survive and advance," Bishop explained. "You know, it’s March, so anything can happen. That’s the crazy thing about March. We constantly see people that nobody believed in win and be in the tournament, so survive and advance is our mindset and our goal. We want to be winning that championship, playing on that Saturday night and hopefully going to the (NCAA Tournament).”
Montana State’s quarterfinal game tips off against No. 4 Idaho State at 2 p.m. Thursday.