By ERIC TABER
For the Montana basketball faithful, memories of legendary Grizzly battles against Boise State are still vivid, back when the Broncos were a Big Sky Conference foe, and were always circled on the calendar as a must win.
On Friday, Griz fans will once again have the chance to get “noisy for Boise” at Dahlberg Arena, when Boise State will pay its first visit to Missoula since 2006, when the Griz defeated the Broncos 62-58.
Boise State comes to Missoula this year as the defending Mountain West Conference Champions, and is receiving votes just outside of the national preseason top 25 polls. The Broncos picked up four votes in the AP top 25, and five votes in the USA Today Coaches’ poll.
The Grizzlies themselves have earned a share of the preseason recognition from the media, earning a No. 17 ranking in the collegeinsider.com preseason mid-major top 25 and a nearly unanimous pick to win the Big Sky in the conference preseason media poll.
The Grizzlies are also ranked No. 144 in the preseason NCAA RPI poll, a ranking based upon a team’s wins, losses and its strength of schedule.
Montana will be tasked with putting a stop to a potent Bronco attack that is led by senior guard Anthony Drmic and sophomore forward James Webb III, both of whom were listed in ESPN’s top 100 players in America (Drmic at No 85, and Webb No. 96). Both were selected to the preseason All-Mountain West first team.
RADIO: The game can be heard live on the Montana Radio Network across the state of Montana, and world wide via web stream on gogriz.com. Mick Holien and Greg Sundberg will bring you the courtside action.
STREAMING: Fans can watch the nonconference game via live web stream at gogriz.com (subscription required).
PREVIOUS MEETING: The Grizzlies fell in a 72-67 double-overtime thriller to the Broncos in Boise early last season in Coach DeCuire’s second game as head coach at Montana.
The Griz jumped out to an early 20-7 lead on 12 points from Mario Dunn. Martin Breunig nearly reached a double-double, leading the Griz with 16 points and nine rebounds, and Jordan Gregory added 15 points but shot just 20 percent from the field.
Anthony Drmic led the way for the Broncos with 29 points, including 12 in the two overtime periods.
SERIES HISOTRY: Boise State leads the all-time series with the Griz by a single game at 28 wins for UM to 29 losses. UM and BSU were both members of the Big Sky Conference from 1970 to 1996 when the Broncos left for the Big West Conference.
The last time Boise State visited Dahlberg Arena was in 2006, when the Montana defended its home court with a 62-58 win over the Broncos.
#FBF: It will be a true “flash back Friday” in Dahlberg Arena when the Griz take the floor on Friday wearing copper and gold throwback uniforms to face the old Big Sky foe Broncos.
The 1991-92 Big Sky champion Griz basketball team will be reuniting on the floor of Dahlberg Arena on Friday for the program’s alumni night.
That ‘91-‘92 team was the first in Blaine Taylor’s tenure at Montana, and it was the first time a Montana coach collected 20 wins in his inaugural season at the helm of the Grizzlies.
UM went on to face Florida State in the NCAA tournament, the first appearance in the big dance for the Griz since the famed 1975 game where the Griz nearly knocked off John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins. In the decade following, Montana made a total of four appearances in the March Madness tourney.
The ‘91-‘92 season also featured a pair of wins over Boise State.
“For that team, Boise was in our conference. Which makes it even better on Friday Night,” said DeCuire.
“Their experience here was seeing the copper and gold against the blue and orange, and that’s what they’ll see on Friday. Hopefully our guys will be prepared to perform, and having some familiar faces in the gym will bring some extra energy.”
Coaches Stew Morrill and Blaine Taylor will be back in the arena, along with several of Coach DeCuire’s teammates. DeCuire was a senior on that ’91-’92 team, and remains Montana’s all time assist leader.