The matchups at Loyola Marymount’s tournament have not been set, but the field has been. Joining the Lady Griz and LMU (13-18, 6-10 WCC) will be UC Irvine (9-21, 5-13 Big West) and North Dakota State (10-19, 6-10 Summit).
“It’s hard to get schedules done. When you get them done and you’ve finally got the games locked into place, you play them whenever you can get them,” Selvig explained.
“With 20 Big Sky games all coming this year after Jan. 1, you only get nine nonconference games, and those games have to fill a big space on the calendar.”
The gems of the nonconference schedule will come in December, starting with the Lady Griz Classic Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6-7.
Montana will be joined at the tournament by Idaho (17-16, 11-7 WAC), Appalachian State (20-11, 13-7 Southern) and, in a scheduling coincidence, UC Irvine, a team Selvig lined up for the Classic before finding out UCI would also be at Loyola Marymount.
The Vandals, who Montana beat twice last season, once on the road and once at home, were 14-15 at the end of the regular season last year, but they won three WAC tournament games in four days by a total of seven points to make their first NCAA tournament since 1985.
The reward? A trip to Storrs, Conn., to face eventual national champion Connecticut. The result? A 105-37 beat down that had coach Jon Newlee saying, “We certainly got the full show. We can’t replicate that in practice, and we can’t replicate that in the Western Athletic Conference. I don’t think there are many teams that can replicate that.”
Appalachian State is known around Montana for its football program, and the Mountaineers will be in Missoula to face the Grizzlies in late August under the lights at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, but the ASU women’s basketball team has also had recent success.
App State has now won 20 games for four consecutive seasons and last year made the WNIT for the third season in a row.
And though UC Irvine, with just nine victories, won fewer games in 2012-13 than any of Montana’s other nonconference opponents, the Anteaters are in just their second year under Doug Oliver, a name that should be familiar to Montana fans.
Oliver was on former Griz coach Mike Montgomery’s staff at Stanford from 1986-98, the final season ending with a run to the Final Four, before taking over the head men’s job at Idaho State, where he worked from 1998-2006.
“Irvine is up and coming,” said Selvig. “Doug is getting them going. He coached at Stanford under Monty and actually coached (boys’ basketball) at Whitefish (High School) at one time, so he has Montana ties.”
Montana will host Temple (14-18, 5-9 Atlantic 10) in the Lady Griz’ final nonconference home game on Dec. 14, a return trip for UM’s season-opening game at Philadelphia last November, then finish nonconference play at Wyoming (24-8, 12-4 Mountain West) on Dec. 17, always a save-the-date match-up. (Continue Reading)
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