Griz Have Difficult 2014-15 Preseason Basketball Schedule

By DAVE GUFFEY

First-year University of Montana head coach Travis DeCuire and his staff have secured their 2014-15 schedule, and it is a challenging one, both on the road and at home.

 In the Grizzlies’ non-league slate they will play five of their first six games on the road, starting with three in a row at Colorado State, Boise State, and then against Seattle University in the Marv Harshman Classic, hosted by the University of Washington.

“No doubt we have a formidable non-league schedule,” DeCuire said.  “A little of that is the result of the  timing.  June 1, when I took the job, we had one home game on the schedule.  A lot of teams had their schedules set by then, so we kind of took what we could get.  The Boise game is one that we just added, and an opportunity to open at home next year was very intriguing.

“The schedule is always something that’s very important to the consistency of a program,” DeCuire said.  “That, academic, and recruiting are probably your top three topics when you talk about that consistency.  For us, it was more about getting this one done, and being a little more strategic with the schedule.  The way we were able to work this out, I think it will benefit next year’s schedule in terms of a home opener in November and more home games in November.  Next year’s schedule will be a bit tougher, but I think that it will be more entertaining for our fans.”

 The Grizzlies, coming off a 17-13 season, return one full-time starter in senior guard Jordan Gregory, along with a pair of part-time starters in senior forward Mike Weisner (15 starts) and sophomore guard Mario Dunn (16 starts).  UM returns a total of just seven letterman from a year ago.

 Coach Travis DeCuire (Photo courtesy of Cal sports information)The Griz open at Colorado State on Nov. 15, a 16-15 team that returns four starters.  Three days later Montana is at BSU ( Nov. 18).  The Broncos were 21-13 last season and return three starters, and are one of six of Montana’s nine Division I opponents this season who won 20 or more games lastyear.

UM closes out its opening-season three-game road trip against Seattle, who is coached by former UCLA star Cameron Dollar.  The Montana-Seattle game is the first in a one-day “tourney,” with the host Huskies playing the University of Pacific in the second game.

The Griz have a one-game hiatus from the road on Wednesday, Nov. 26, hosting the Carroll College Saints.  They are back on the road after that, playing at the University of San Francisco (Nov. 30) and at Cal a few days later on Dec. 3.  The Dons return four starters from a 21-12 squad, while the Golden Bears were 21-14 a year ago and return two starters.

“No question that trip to Cal will be an emotional one,” DeCuire said.  “It’s a homecoming for a number of guys on our roster and on our staff.  (Assistant coaches) Jonathan Metzger-Jones and Chris Cobb (both from Oakland) are from the Bay Area.  Also you are looking at an opportunity for (sophomore guards) Jermaine Edwards (from Richmond) and Mario Dunn (from Oakland) to go perform in front of their friends and family.  Hopefully we can get those guys to perform at their highest level, and I’ll be along for the ride.”

After their trying road trip, the Grizzlies host two teams in Dahlberg Arena that had 20-win seasons a year ago, in North Dakota State and Davidson, which were 26-7 and 20-13, respectively, a year ago.  Both teams return three starters each.

“It’s always important to play games against teams who regionally might draw some interest, and teams that have had some success within their conferences,” said DeCuire, who served as the top assistant to former Griz mentors Mike Montgomery at Cal and Blaine Taylor at Old Dominion the previous 11 seasons.  “For us, we think those are games that could potentially draw decent for us, although they are in December.”
Yet another 20-win squad is next up for the Griz, as they play at the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin on Sunday, Dec. 14.  The Panthers are coming off a 21-14 season and have three starters back.  The final non-league contest is Dec. 21, as UM hosts South Dakota, a squad that returns four starters.

Big Sky Conference action gets underway with two home games, beginning Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, with the Grizzlies hosting the Northern Colorado Bears, and then on Saturday, Jan. 3 versus North Dakota.

Mens_schedule

*****