Griz picked 5th & 8th in 2014-15 BSC Preseason Polls

By DAVE GUFFEY for GoGriz.com

The 2014-15 University of Montana men’s basketball team has been ranked fifth and eighth, by the media and the coaches in the Big Sky Conference’s preseason poll which was released today (Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014).

The Grizzlies, who received 297 points in the media poll, and only 56 points by the league coaches, returns just one full-time starter and seven lettermen.

Coach Travis DeCuire (Photo courtesy of Cal sports information)

First-year head coach Travis DeCuire. Photo courtesy ofUM.

“You can look at that two ways,” said Montana head coach Travis DeCuire.  “I think right now our assistant coaches would look at it to use as motivation.  When you’re looking at eighth you can go into practice and say this is what the coaches and what the other programs think of us.  This is the way they see us.  Are we satisfied by that, or are we going to use that as fuel to our fire?  On the flip-side of that, I think that shows there’s room for improvement, and there’s not a lot of expectation.  So anything we do above that is gravy.

“So you kind of like going into your first year without a whole lot of expectation, in terms of expecting us to win a championship and be the most dominant team in the conference,” DeCuire said.  “But, at the same time, that competitive drive that I have, I always expect to compete for championships, no matter what kind of team I have and who is returning.  So we’re just using that as a way to create our enthusiasm in practice, and continue to set our goals high and compete as much as possible.”

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Jordan Gregory. Photo by Todd Goodrich(UM)

Montana was 17-13 last season and went 12-8 in the Big Sky, which placed them in a thee-way tie for second place.

First-year head coach DeCuire’s sole returning starter is senior guard Jordan Gregory (29 starts), while sophomore guard Mario Dunn (16 starts) and senior forward Mike Weisner (15 starts) started in half of UM’s 30 games.

Gregory was the Grizzlies’ third leading scorer last season, averaging 13.8 points a game, and he was named honorable mention All-Big Sky.  Dunn started in 16 of UM’s 20 Big Sky games.  He was fifth on the team in scoring (6.3 ppg).  The 6-7 Weisner was fourth on the squad in scoring, averaging 8.1 points per game a year ago.

Lettermen back are 6-2 sophomore guards Riley Bradshaw (played in 20 games) and 6-4 Brandon Gfeller (27 games/two starts); 6-6 senior post Chris Kemp (29 games); and 6-5 sophomore forward Jack Lopez (16 games).  None of UM’s four returning non-starters averaged more than 2.8 points per game, although Kemp tied for sixth on the squad in rebounds (2.1 rpg).

University of Washington transfer Martin Breunig, a 6-8 junior forward, redshirted last season and is a potential starter.

The Griz added two players from the junior college ranks in sophomore guard/forward Jermaine Edmonds Jr. (6-5) and sophomore guard Daniel Nwosu (6-2).  UM also added preps Bryden Boehning, a 6-10 center from Glendive, Mont., 6-6 forward Gavin DeJong from Manhattan, Mont., and 6-8 forward Fabijan Krslovic from Australia.

Defending champion Weber State is the preseason pick in both polls, despite just two returning starters, although one of those starters back is 6-9 junior forward Joel Bolomboy, who was ranked third in the nation in rebounding (11.0 rpg).

Eastern Washington and Northern Arizona were tabbed to finish in the top three in both polls.  EWU has four starters back, including the league’s leading scorer in junior guard Tyler Harvey, who averaged 21.8 points a game.  NAU also had four starters back.  Sacramento State, which returns all five starters, was picked fourth by both the media and the coaches.

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Mike Weisner. Photo by Todd Goodrich(UM)

MEDIA POLL
Rank-Team Points
1.- Weber State (31) 424
2.- Northern Arizona (4) 339
3.- Eastern Washington (1) 318
4.- Sacramento State 298
5. -Montana 297
6. -Northern Colorado 242
7. -Portland State 227
8.- Idaho 207
9.- North Dakota 175
10.- Idaho State 125
11.- Montana State 104
12.- Southern Utah 52

COACHES’ POLL
Rank-Team Points
1.- Weber State (8) 117
2. -Eastern Washington (1) 100
3. -Northern Arizona (2) 99
4. -Sacramento State (1) 90
5. -Portland State 80
6. -Northern Colorado 73
7. -Idaho 65
8. -Montana 56
9.- North Dakota 38
10.- Idaho State 35
11.- Montana State 24
12.- Southern Utah 15