Archive for March, 2009


Bobcats recruit California Power Forward

I have heard that Montana State is recruiting David Swartz 6’7” 225 big man from Huntington Beach CA. Swartz is a physical rebounder and solid scorer, he averaged 16 points and 10 boards this season for Huntington Beach high school in California, while playing against some of the best teams in California. He is a true low post forward who can play with his back to the basket or can shoot it out to about 18 feet. He won’t “wow” you with his athleticism, but has built a reputation on his basketball savvy and toughness. He is a blue-collar 4-man that can beat you in many ways. Along with Montana State, Northern Arizona, Cal State Fullerton, Lamar, Idaho, Cal Poly and UC-Irvine are also showing interest Swartz.

Griz recruit Update: Thurmond Woods

Griz fall signee 6’-5” Thurman Woods is playing California Spring League ball now after having to sit out the high school basketball season. Below is a scouting report of some of the better players in the summer league play. Fullcourt Press has rated Woods as the # 5 2009 combo forward in southern California, ranking him ahead of Stanford signee Andy Brown (#6) as well as athletes who have signed with Nevada and San Diego. Here is a there opinion.

Thurman Woods 6-5 Dominguez (Compton CA)
Lefty is an explosive athlete and an underrated 3-point shooter and strong rebounder. Montana signee is a big-time steal for the Grizzlies and a very good student. Prior to the season, Woods was discovered to be technically in his 5th year (ninth semester of high school) this fall and was denied eligibility to play this season. Top 100-150 caliber national prospect.

In talking with a few people, they feel that Woods has made great strides since last summer/fall. He has expanded his game to be able to hit the mid-range shot out to about 15 foot range, is a very strong rebounder and has the ability to lock down opponents on the defensive end. Still though they feel he is more of a power forward who can play some at the small forward. He needs to continue to add range to his shot and improve his ball handling to play the small forward in college. When asked point blank he told me that he believes that Woods will be a power forward for at least his first few years at Montana


Lady Griz Basketball Wrap Up and Look Ahead (Part 4)

This is the final in a series of four posts on the Lady Griz basketball team, discussing the past season and a look ahead to next season. Part 1 Season Wrap up, Part 2 Look ahead: Bigs, Part 3 Look Ahead: Wing players and Part 4 Look Ahead: Recruits.

The Recruits

Selvig should have a big recruiting class this year, with at least 5 scholarships to offer. So far he is off to a very good start with the signing last fall of 6-0 Alyssa Smith, 5-11 Kenzie De Boer, and 6-0 Katie Baker. With only 3 of a possible 5 of there scholarships filled so far, this class is alr
eady looking like one of Selvig’s best in the past few years. While all three could make immediate impact next year Smith and Baker probably have the best chance, because of the position they play.. Baker brings offence to the table at the power forward spot, and that is something that the Griz will really need next year. Smith is not the offence machine that Baker is but is a much better rebounder and a more athletic option at the power forward spot. De Boer, who is a natural small forward, may find her options more limited beacouse of the depth the Griz will have at her position.. What DeBore will being to the table though is her ablity to score where she excalls, and as I keep repeating like a parrot, this could be an area that she could help them in next year. All three of these players are going to be big time players for the Lady Griz in the future, but there impact next year depends on who puts the work in this summer. They definitely are capable of beating out some of the returnees if they do so.

The other factors on whether they play or not could be who else will Selvig sign this spring. Robin always seems fill all of his scholarships every year so I feel pretty confident that he will sign at least two players this spring. I would have to guess that with only, two true point guards right now on the roster his #1 priority for the spring would be to sign another point guard. The Griz do have a few players that can play the point in a pinch, so it may not be a necessity for next year, but he will need to get someone in the program, who can move up the depth chart, when Johnson graduates next year. With the other scholarship I think Selvig has some options. It would be nice to get another true center in the program, so I would expect that he will be looking there first, but it is really not a necessity. Instead they may also be looking at the proverbial “best athlete available”, although they are pretty stacked at the shooting guard and small forward.

I mentioned above that the in coming freshman will need to put the work in to earn playing time next year, but a good portion of the returnees should also head this warning, because there are some very talented players coming into the program next year, do not assume that your role will automatically increase just because you played next year. Anyone who does so could be find themselves sitting on the bench behind one or more of these freshmen.


Lady Griz Basketball Wrap Up and Look Ahead (Part 3)

This is the third in a series of four posts on the Lady Griz basketball team, discussing the past season and a look ahead to next season. Part 1 Season Wrap up, Part 2 Look ahead: Bigs, Part 3 Look Ahead: Wing players and Part 4 Look Ahead: Recruits.

The Wings

The Griz look to be very deep at the shooting guard, and small forward, but I have serious questions at the point guard. The Griz will lose two time conference MVP point guard Mandy Morales (17 pts, 6rbs, 5asts), and all conference shooting guard Sonja Rogers (14 points, 3 rbs), but will return starting forward/ guard Lauren Beck (7 pts, 5 rbs). Beck should hold down one starting spot at the 2 or 3, but may get some competition. The other shooting guard spot should be an open competition between Stephanie Stender, Misty Atkinson, Tianna Ware and redshirt Alexandra Hurley. Of the lettermen Ware is the player I am most intrigued by, but I think Hurley has the chance to make big waves next year. Hurley has the ability to put up points and think that is something the Griz will really need. At the point, I guess it looks like it is 5-5 Shaunte Nance-Johnson who will, get the starting nod as the only true point guard on the roster with any D-1 experience. Nance-Johnson is a serviceable point but in a league where the most important players are point guard, she could be a weakness for the Lady Griz. Her back up should be redshirt freshman Ashley Ferda, as the only other true point guard on the roster.. I have heard the Griz coaches are extremely high on Ferda as there future star at the point guard position but she is coming off of knee surgery and is just a freshman, so she may need some time to develop. If Shaunte should falter though Ferda could get her chance. I would also expect Robin and his coaches to add another point this spring, with one of there open scholarships. Robin has only signed 1 JC recruit in the past 25 years so any point guard recruit might not be an impact player in 2009-10. The

Griz lost 41 points of offense (60% of their total output), and 18 rebounds (46% of their total output), with the graduation of their 4 seniors. While I feel the rebounds will be problematic, but solvable, with the player coming back, point production could be a real issue. With the exception of Sarah Ena there are simply not a lot of true scorers retuning among the veteran players. The freshman (true and redshirt) though do have some player who can score the ball so it could become interesting to see who emerges as the 2nd and 3rd options to Ena. Unless a couple players emerge to back up Ena I really could see very knock down drag out defensive team that wins games in the low 50’s.


Lady Griz Basketball Wrap Up and Look Ahead (Part 2)

This is the second in a series of four posts on the Lady Griz basketball team, discussing the past season and a look ahead to next season. Part 1 Season Wrap up, Part 2 Look ahead: Bigs, Part 3 Look Ahead: Wing players and Part 4 Look Ahead: Recruits.

Over the year’s I have watched Robin Selvig continually simply retool his teams from year to year. Losing all league players and replacing them as without hardly breaking a sweat. There always seemed to be budding stars just waiting in the wings ready to step right in and keep the lady Griz at the top of the Big Sky. With the big exception of Sarah Ena, though, I am not sure who those players might be. There seems to a lot of very talented very young players who will be freshman next year and then a group of juniors and seniors who look to be more role players than starters. Here are my thoughts.

The Big’s

Bigs might be a misnomer, when referring to the Lady Griz front line. They have only one true Center in the program right now, and that is 6-3 Shandra Robison but I see her filling Gaurdipee’s role next year, not a starter. Instead I see the Griz again going with more of a two power forward front line. The loss of 6-1 Britney Lohman, though will be a huge loss. Lohman averaged 7 points, and 7 rebounds while also contributing close to 2 blocks a game, but where she was huge, was in her ability to defend the other team’s best post player, and I do not see anyone returning on the Griz front line with that ability. Sarah Ena, though will be back at the power forward spot, and should be an all league player for the Griz. The 5-11 Ena is a load to guard underneath and reminds me of a more athletic version of former Griz, Ann Lake. Look for her to improve, big time on her 11 points and 7 rebounds averages from the 2008-09 year. Taking over for Lohman at the other spot should be 6-1 Jessa Loman Linford. Loman-Linford averaged 3 points and 3 rebounds last year. Along with Robison, possibly look for true freshmen 6-0 Alyssa Smith and 6-0 Katie Baker to make an impact next year. Both have star potential, with Smith being more of a physical rebounder, and Baker more of an offensive gifted player. Baker who is a very deep offensive threat could play some at small forward.


Lady Griz Basketball Wrap Up and Look Ahead (Part 1)

This is the first in a series of four posts on the Lady Griz basketball team, discussing the past season and a look ahead to next season. Part 1 Season Wrap up, Part 2 Look ahead: Bigs, Part 3 Look Ahead: Wing players and Part 4 Look Ahead: Recruits.

Part 1 Season Wrap

Of the write ups on the D-1 Montana basketball team, this one on the lady Griz has been the toughest for me to get my head around. Of all of the Lady Griz teams I have observer going back to 1980 this coming team has had a more of a feeling of transition team than any of the other I have watched between seasons. To that extent I purposely went out and started to talk to a lot of basketball savvy folk who are familiar with the Griz to get there opinions and to bounce some of mine off of them. The Lady Griz team 2009-10 fascinates me. The Lady Griz lose a lot of very talented players at the most of the key positions on the floor. On face value. Though, it is unclear who will fill those spots next year. Still though, in my close 30 years of watching Robin Selvig he has NEVER failed to put together a team that did not challenge for the league championship. I find this very interesting.

This past year’s Lady Griz team seems to have the whole package, to be very successful in the Big Sky conference. Nice height, more athleticism and speed than I can ever remember a Selvig team having, a star point guard, a star inside presence, one of the best perimeter shooters in the programs history, and an interior defensive stopper. Also put into the mix some nice role players and great team chemistry and this team was ready to roll. About the only thing this team did not have was true low post center, but they did have former starter 6-2 Tamara Guardipee who they could bring in to give them a physical presence at times, but Tamara slowed down this team quite a bit, and did not play to their strengths. The team actually reminded me of some of the Selvig teams in the late 80’s and 90’s.

The thing that was not like the late 80’s is that Selvig could not simply breeze though the conference on his way to winning the league. Back then, it seemed that Selvig’s second team could place in the top ½ of the conference. The Big Sky Conference is much more competitive now than then and Portland State pushed the Griz for all they were worth, but in the end the Griz squeaked out the conference regular season championship, from Portland State on the last day of the season. Then seven days later, in a rematch the Griz won the tournament championship and NCAA tourney berth, with another close win over PSU. In the NCAA’s The Griz really gave Pittsburg all they can handle in the first half by leading much of the first 20 minutes, then Pitt said lets play to our strong points. Pittsburg came out in the second half and played to the Lady Griz weakness, speed and athleticism, and blew the doors off the Griz’s hopes for an upset.

Now there has been a lot of bitching from some about why Selvig did not make an adjustment, or do something to stem the Pittsburg onslaught in the second half, even one Egriz’er who suggested assistant coach Shannon Cate should be given the reigns of the Lady Griz program because somehow, she could have done a better job against Pitt. To the second point, do you think if Shannon had the solution to that press, but she just chose to keep her mouth shut? If she had the solution, Selvig would have used it. Now to the first and major point and that is “players play and coaches coach”. At a certain point there is nothing a coach can do, if players do not make plays. I really hate to say this but athletically the Lady Griz players were simply not even in the same class as the Pitt players. Once Pitt got control of the tempo, that was all she wrote. I will give Selvig critics (all handful of you), that Selvig does take the responsibility for the players on his team and the style of basketball they play, but to that I will say Selvig recruits to win the Big Sky first. If Montana does not win the Big Sky conference there is almost no chance to he get a NCAA tourney invite. Over the past 10 or so years Selvig has recruited more athleticism, than he has ever had but he has not or will not recruit it at the expense of talent.

The lady Griz team once again this year continued their dominance of the Big Sky Conference, by winning their umpteenth conference Championship and their 17th NCAA tourney appearance. While it is easy to recap the past season the real interesting part of this series is going to be trying to get a feel as to what next years team is going to be like.


UM Recruit Update: Eric Hutchinson

I mentioned last week that Griz fall signie 6-9 Eric Hutchison was picked to play in a State of Washington senior all-star game last week-end. It took me awhile but I finally found the game results. Hutchison’s red team lost to the white team in a close one 73-74. Hutchison scored 9 points and had 6 rebounds. The red team’s high scorer was Jon DeVries, and then they had four players with 9 points.


MSU Recruit Update: Michael Williams

The LA Times has an update on Montana State point guard recruit Michael Williams.

Boys’ basketball: Interest in Williams heating up

Taft senior guard Michael Williams, one of the best remaining unsigned players in Southern
California, is starting to generate more interest from Division I suitors.

New Mexico State visited Williams on campus today, Taft Coach Derrick Taylor said, and the 6-foot-1 standout has scholarship offers from San Francisco, Cal State Fullerton, Montana State and Cal State Northridge. New Mexico State has not offered a scholarship, Taylor said.

Williams often played his best in the biggest games, scoring 32 points against Westchester in the City Section title game–more than the entire Oakland McClymonds team scored against the Comets in the state Division I title game. He also scored 31 points against Leuzinger, 29 against Etiwanda, 20 against Bishop Montgomery, 27 against Oakland Skyline, 23 against Fairfax and 30 against Ventura.

He averaged 18.7 points and 4.1 assists and made 45% of his three-point attempts.

–Ben Bolch



Griz recruit California JC Point Guard

I have heard that Wayne Tinkles Montana Staff is recruiting 5-7 point guard Steven Bennett of Citrus JC in California. Bennett averaged 11 points, 2 rebounds, and 4 assists for Citrus, and was a first-team all-stater, first-team all-conference player and runner-up to his team mate Troy Payne in conference MVP voting. Fresno State and several division two programs are also recruiting Bennett. Citrus College finished 28-5 this season after winning back-to-back Western State Conference Championships, and has a 63-6 record during Bennett’s two years at Citrus.

On a related note I had heard that the Griz were recruiting Citrus’s team-mate Justin Johnson, a 6-foot-2 combo guard this fall but they do not seem to be interested in him currently.


Bobcat Women’s Basketball Wrap Up and Look Ahead (Part 4)

This is the final in a series of four posts on the Bobcat women’s basketball team, discussing the past season and a look ahead to next season. Part 1 Season Wrap up, Part 2 Look ahead: Bigs, Part 3 Look Ahead: Wing players and Part 4 Look Ahead: Recruits.

The Recruits

Tricia Binford will graduate /lose three players off of this year’s team, but will look to replace them with up to 7 new players. With veteran eight players returning, including redshirt Jannette Jackson it is quite clear that at least 3-4 of the new players will need to be ready to contribute next fall. Of the six player who have signed or committed, the two in my some what novice opinion that look to be freshman ready to go would be 5-9 guard / small forward Latisha Addams and 6-0 power forward Rachel Semansky. I do not know exactly why I feel this way, I get the feeling that these two players could end up being very special in the Bobcat program., in the way Perry was in 06-07, Strand in 07-08 and Bussey was last year. Nipping at their heels are 6-1 forward Ashley Albert and 6-4 center Chelsea Banis, and the only thing that separates these women from Adams and Semansky in my opinion, is that they may have a little bit more of a transition to make to the college game. Albert will be moving from guard to the forward spot in college and may have to adjust to a more physical game. For Banis, I have a built in prejudice, that true big girls usually need a little more time to adjust to college ball. The other two players 5-11 guard / forward Kelsey Roben and 5-7 point guard Ally Schmitt are a little bit of a mystery or wild card for me, because I don’t feel I have a good picture of them. Both come from nationally ranked teams, with multiple D-1 signies, and solid pedigrees, but modest stats if any. Schmitt is a pure point who I think may see playing time next year. She is not the dynamic point Perry is but is more of a floor general who can get everyone involved. Roben is a complete mystery, very modest junior stats on a very powerful team and then had to sit out this year when she blew out her knee. From what I do hear she has a rep as a deadly three point shooter, well coaches and plays solid defense.

As mentioned previously there is a chance that Binford could sign another athlete this spring. This though is not a guarantee, though. I do not think Binford has filled all of her scholarships ever since she has been at MSU. I asked a couple years ago about her 15 scholarships and she said she would fill all 15 if she found the right players, but she did not want to fill the scholarships for the sake of filling them. Once she fills scholarship it is committed for 4 years, she would rather hold the scholarship over until the following year and get the right player. Like I said though if she does sign another player, and again I no particular insight either way, my first guess would be she might look for another big (JC?), and secondly a point (JC?), these are the two areas that the Cats may need the most help next year and we look very solid at the 2 and 3.

The common factors, that almost all of these girls, -and most of Binford’s recruits the past couple of years, for that matter- is that they are very skilled basketball player, who can play multiple positions on the floor, can run the floor, and come from winning programs. Who eventually plays next year is really a crapshoot for me to try to predict, because they are all capable. No matter where they are right now this minute, the main factor that will play the biggest role next year may lay in who works the hardest between now and the start of practice, they are that close.

March 2009

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