Griz Host Bears Today (Jan. 1) in Big Sky Opener


THE GAME: The University of Montana Grizzlies (3-7/0-0) begin their Big Sky Conference season on Thursday, Jan. 1, hosting the University of Northern Colorado Bears (5-6/0-0) in UM’s Dahlberg Arena, with tip-off at 7:05 p.m.

FIRST 500 FANS GET IN FREE!: The first 500 fans who attend the Grizzlies’ first two Big Sky games this season on Jan. 1 & 3 will receive free admission.

UP NEXT? The Grizzlies host North Dakota (4-7/0-0), Saturday, Jan. 3.

RADIO: Veteran Mick Holien calls the action, while Greg Sundberg serves as the color analyst.  The action can be heard on Montana’s flagship stations KGVO 1290 AM/ & 101.5 FM, and the Grizzly Radio Network from Learfield Sports.   (Griz BB Network on Page 7 of weekly release).

STREAMING: The Grizzly-Bears game is available via streaming with a subscription on and on

GRIZ LAST GAME:  The Grizzlies, who were playing without three starters, missed several three-point shots in the last few minutes in the loss.  UM was missing starters Martin Breunig (injury), Mike Weisner (injury), and Jermaine Edmonds, Jr. (academics).   Montana was led by Jordan Gregory’s game-high 18 points.  Griz senior post man Chris Kemp, who started for the second time this season, added a career-high 12 points.  Forward Fabijan Krslovic added career-bests of 8 points and 9 rebounds.

GRIZ LAST SEASON: Montana was 17-13 overall and 12-8 (tie, second) in the Big Sky Conference a year ago. Montana’s sole full-time starter back is Gregory.   UM returns seven lettermen.


Coach Travis DeCuire (Photo courtesy of Cal sports information)


ON HAVING 10 DAYS OFF BEFORE YOU BEGIN THE BIG SKY SEASON: “ I think going into conference you’ve got some time to work on both sides of the ball; work on your confidence and the thought-process of the game.  I’ve been on some teams that has had some games the week of the (league) opener, and I think sometimes it’s a distraction, so for us it’s (the break) been very healthy.”

ON THREE STARTERS WHO MISSED THE LAST GAME: “They’re working their way back.  We’re taking every step that we can to get them back – obviously we want to get three starters back.  But for us it was a chance to grow, and an opportunity to see some guys in action who hadn’t got a lot of time.  Sometimes you find out a lot about each other or yourself when you get an opportunity.”

YOU HAD THREE NEW STARTERS AGAINST SOUTH DAKOTA.  WERE THERE ANY POSITIVES FROM THAT THIS EARLY IN THE SEASON?: “I think teams improve from adversity.  I think that if we were undefeated right now I don’t think we’d be as good of a basketball team as I feel we are today.  How you create depth is you play guys.  So for us to walk away from that game feeling like we had it won, or should have won it missing three of our top four scorers, I think it’s a stride in the right direction.

“For us, our schedule has been very difficult. We were ranked around 17th or 18th in terms of strength of schedule, and most of those games were on the road.  So, going into it, I don’t think people expected us to even be in most of those games.  So for us to walk away saying there were three or four of those games we left on the table – I think that we are headed in the right direction.”

MONTANA WAS PICKED FIFTH IN ONE OF THE BIG SKY’S PRESEASON POLLS.  HOW MUCH OF A CHIP ON YOUR TEAMS’ SHOULDER TO GET OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT IN CONFERENCE: “We’ve got a chip.  It was a little bigger when those rankings first came out obviously.  But I wouldn’t have expected anything different.  You know we only returned a couple of starters; you’ve got a brand new coach; no one really knows much about the team; and there are some other teams returning quite a few guys who scored a lot of points.  So expectations are going to be different for them.

“I made the comment on media day that I would always expect the strong programs to remain on top, and that’s why I made the comment about Weber being number one until they’re not because they won it (the conference tournament) last year.  I feel strongly about Montana in the same way.  I think that we’re always going to be a competitor, regardless how we play in November or December.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE BIG SKY THIS SEASON?: “There are a lot of teams that play a lot of different styles.  I think that now most of the teams will be smaller that what we’ve seen.  I think there will be an opportunity for us to rebound the ball a little better.  I think for us it will be an opportunity for us to have an advantage inside, than we’ve had of late.  I think that sometimes the players are more comfortable with the guys that they are playing against because they’ve seen them before and played against them before, whether it’s in conference or maybe in high school.  So there’s a little more comfort with your opponent, and I think as a team you may come out with a little more confidence.”