The first week of the college basketball season started with a bang last week with 9 games being played with mixed results overall, but pretty positive results for the Griz men and Bobcat Women. It would be hard to pick who had the better week between these two teams; would you call two road wins better than three home wins? It is hard to say. In either case, though, Tinkle and Binford have to be happy with the results. Both teams, though, did show that they still have a lot of things to work on after the first week of the season, so I think they will be taking these wins with a grain of salt.
Bobcat Women: The Bobcat women’s program pull out to very nice wins on the road against Cal. State Bakersfield and the University of Pacific. Only time will tell but, I am not sure either team will be making a NCAA tourney appearance this season but, two wins against teams that are at least Big Sky caliber has to have Binford feeling comfortable. The big three of Perry, Strand and Bussey carried the Bobcats for most of these three games, with Perry and Bussey averaging over 20 points a game, but another very nice contribution was had by transfer Bak. Over all a very good performance but what is more positive is, that once you get by the big three there, is still a lot things that this team can improve upon.
Griz Men: Tinkle’s crew managed to pull out victories over North Dakota, Boise State and Loyola Marymount, in their own tourney this week end in Missoula. While none of these teams are national power houses I think they are a good measure as to what the Griz might expect to see in Big Sky play. Once again at times it seems like as Anthony Johnson goes so will the Griz, but as the games went on it did seem other players started shine. The Griz are playing with an odd lineup this year with small forwards playing the 4 spot for most of the game. It will be interesting to see how teams adjust to this line up and whether the Griz can continue to dictate the style of play. Still though this team seems to have a lot more chemistry than I have seen at UM in 3-4 years, which will bode well come Conference.
Bobcat Men: The Bobcat men won an exhibition game early in the week in an unimpressive fashion, and then followed that up with 14 point loss to Nevada. The Bobcats got behind early in the first half and could not over come the deficit. The Bobcats did out score Nevada by five points in the second half, but I doubt Huse will view that as much of a moral victory. What concerns me is that the Bobcats played with only 8 active players for the Nevada game and most likely the next two games also. The Cats started out the year with 16 players on their roster but have been hit by suspensions, illness, injuries and a player defection, that have whittled their roster down. Additionally the team was hit hard this year by the flue and I do not think Huse has manage to have his entire roster on the court at the same time yet. Starters Bynum and Navarre are expect back in two games. Swita has been cleared by the NCAA, but has some back problems, and Budnich should be back soon after dealing with an illness. It will be some time before we get a good feel where this team is at.
The Lady Griz: The lady Griz had a very tough week losing a close game at Colorado State and then getting shelled at Wyoming. Before Lady Griz fans start getting all worried, remember the Lady Griz team was playing with almost 80% of their scoring and rebounding from last year. Leading returning scorer and rebounder Sarah Ena was out with an ankle injury for this road swing, but is do back shortly. The lady Griz really missed Ena physicality, scoring and rebounding, but more importantly they missed that go to player when they needed a basket or rebound. With all the talented but young freshmen the Lady Griz have they will still need Ena and Beck to be to be the foundation of the team until the freshman mature. Case in point freshman DeBoer has an outstanding game against CSU with 23 points only to follow that up with a 2 point on a 1-11 shooting night. This is what freshmen do.