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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

June 17th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

 

Montana Grizzlies

Overall Rank: #144

Conference Rank: #3 Big Sky

 

2005-06: 24-7, 10-4, 2nd

2005-06 postseason: NCAA

 

Montana quietly went 24-7 last season and upended Nevada in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before being outmatched by Boston College.  The backcourt lacks experience and will have to depend on Bryan Ellis and Max Martin.  Ellis is a speedy guard who will look to shine after spending last year as a backup.  Martin saw his starts decrease as a sophomore and will need to regain his freshman form.  The frontcourt, on the other hand, is deep and talented and will be the strength of the Montana team.

 

Who’s Out: The loss of starters Virgil Matthews and Kevin Criswell is a big hit, but it won’t effect the Grizzlies as much as it would appear.  Matthews did a little bit of everything with 10.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists as a senior.  Criswell averaged 16.1 points and leaves behind a three-point shooting hole on the roster.  John Seyfert didn’t play last season due to an injury and has decided not to continue his collegiate career.

 

Who’s In: Coach Larry Krystkowiak is bringing in a very good recruiting class led by junior college transfer Gus Chase.  Chase, a 6-4, 245 pound power forward, has a knack for rebounding.  The big man is one of the top forwards at the juco level and will compete for a starting job from day one.  Incoming freshman Dave Vaderjagt, a 7-0 center, has plenty of experience playing for the youth Australian national teams.  Vanderjagt will need some time to gain strength, but with his size, he’ll soon become an impact player for the Grizzlies.  Cameron Rundles can score and handle the ball.  The point guard was a finalist for Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball award and, along with fellow newcomer guard Zach Graves, will provide some depth to the Montana backcourt.

 

Who to Watch: Big man Andrew Strait will find the ball in his hands quite a bit during his junior campaign.  Last season the 6-8 Yakima, WA native averaged team highs in points and rebounds with 16.6 and 6.4, respectively.  While Strait is the star of Missoula, fellow frontcourters Jordan Hasquet, Matt Dlouhy, Mike Chavez and Kyle Sharp aren’t too shabby either.  Hasquet averaged 8.1 points and 4.0 rebounds as a freshman and continued to improve with more experience.  Dlouhy started 18 games a season ago averaging 7.4 points and 3.7 boards.  Chavez and Sharp didn’t earn many minutes in the crowded frontcourt last year, but both have the ability to earn a starting job or at least make a much bigger impact.

 

Final Projection: The backcourt has some cause for concerns, which knock the Griz down to 3rd in the Big Sky.  If Ellis and Martin can prove they can be the leaders Coach K needs them to be, and Rundles can develop into a solid option off the bench, Montana can make the NCAA Tournament again and beat a five seed again. 

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: none

 

Projected Starting Five:

Bryan Ellis, Senior, Guard, 4.1 points per game

Matt Martin, Junior, Guard, 6.7 points per game

Matt Dlouhy, Senior, Forward, 7.4 points per game

Jordan Hasquet, Sophomore, Forward, 8.1 points per game

Andrew Strait, Junior, Forward, 16.6 points per game

 

 » #143 Wake Forest

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