The defending Big Sky Conference champion, Montana women’s basketball team, had their first practice of the season at 6:45 a.m. Tuesday to start the 2013-14 season. Last year, the Lady Griz finished 24-8 overall and made their second NCAA Tournament appearance in three years.
This year, the team returns without Katie Baker, Kenzie De Boer and Alyssa Smith, who all graduated in the spring. Baker was last year’s BSC Most Valuable Player, and De Boer was a first-team BSC selection. The Lady Griz also lost assistant coach Annette Rocheleau to retirement but added former standout Sonya Rogers to the coaching staff.
Youth will rule the court for Montana, as 10 underclassmen and four upperclassmen will play for the maroon and silver this season.
Head coach Robin Selvig met with the Kaimin to talk about the upcoming year.
Question: What is the team like this year after losing Baker, De Boer, Smith and Hurley?
Answer: We have a bunch of excited kids that are looking forward to the season. We lost four kids that played a ton of minutes, so things will be different this year. That’s exciting I think for the returners because there are all kinds of new roles. This team will develop its own personality.
Q: What are you looking to do more of considering Baker’s absence leaves a big hole in the post?
A: Fortunately one of our returning players, Carly (Selvig, the coach’s niece), played a lot of minutes last year. On the defensive end she’s really good and offensively she’s capable of scoring more. When you lose someone that took a lot of shots and was a good scorer like Katie, it’s not necessarily one person [who is] going to do that, maybe it’s a cumulative thing. But I think we’ve got inside kids that can score. We have a couple freshmen coming in battling for time that are good scorers as well [in] Maggie (Rickman) and Jordy (Sullivan).
Q: You lost two players who were able to make a lot of shots, who do you see stepping into that role?
A: Kellie (Cole) I think can kind of create her own shots, and of course you know we run things and try to get the right people the shots. We have a lot of kids that I think are capable of being good scorers and hopefully the kids that are returning are all better.
Q: Is last year’s group going to be a hard group to replace?
A: We’ve had years where we’ve graduated three or four pretty good seniors — I mean really good seniors— because we’ve had a lot of good players. I don’t know if there’s ever been a year where we’ve lost more minutes, and Ali (Hurley) played a lot off the bench too. That’s the nature of the game, kids have stepped in and their turn has come and hopefully that’s what happens this year.
Q: Torry Hill and Jordan Sullivan are the only two seniors this year. What are their strengths and what are they doing this year to be leaders?
A: Well first of all, they lead by example. They live in the gym; they worked really hard this summer. They are gym rats. Basketball is really important to them and so they will be great senior leaders. They want their senior year to be a great one and they will do everything they can.
Q: You’ve had a deep rotation the last few years, what do you think about this group of freshmen, who do you see stepping up?
A: That all remains to be seen. I think that was probably as deep for a couple years we went, that was the nature of that team. This team will be different; I mean we’ve had years where we’ve played seven or eight kids too. That’s all going to be determined by the ladies on the floor.
We don’t have nearly as many preconceived ideas going into this year or as many givens based on what kids have shown us. We hope to certainly develop some depth.
I doubt we’ll be 10 or 12 deep early on here, but that certainly is something I think we can get to before the year is over.
Q: Do you have an idea of where some of the younger players could go?
A: We’ll find out by what they do, I know we’re looking for somebody who can guard somebody. We lost seniors that were good defenders, Kenzie and Alyssa I think were great defenders. They were also tough kids. We lost some toughness there and Ali off the bench was a really good defender. So I told them at our first meeting, we need to find somebody who can guard somebody, and if you want to play, show us that.