Griz head coach Travis DeCuire pushed Ahmaad Rorie to serve more as a pass-first point guard, over the last few years. The role meant more dribbling and directing than shooting for a player who earned his way to college by making baskets.
But against Weber State in the Big Sky Conference semifinals, Rorie scored 28 points, his season high, while also handing out six assists and steering the Griz to domination.
“I mean it's just incredible. For (Rorie) to go out and lead us like that with his energy and then be able to score the ball and guard is just incredible,” Bobby Moorehead, a senior guard, said of Rorie’s performance.
The Griz won 78-49 against the Wildcats. Doubts swirled against the Griz without big-man Jamar Akoh, but the guard-heavy offense is exactly what led to the Wildcats’ downfall, their head coach, Randy Rahe, said.
“It's hard to match up [when] they're playing five guards, and they're very experienced guards. I mean they're old. And they know how to play, and they've been playing together for a long time,” Rahe said.
“On one hand, you try to take advantage. On the other hand, it's hard to do because they know how to play defense.”
DeCuire said the Griz played their best defense of the season against Weber. He added that it may have been the best defensive performance he’s seen in his five seasons as Montana’s head coach. The Griz dominated the court, setting an incredibly high speed.
Timmy Falls, a sophomore guard who has been the Griz’s dynamite this entire season, joined the starting lineup a few games ago. He raises the heat on the court and Friday was no exception. He fouled out, but his defensive tone kept the Griz on point.
Despite leading by massive amounts, 20 points in the first half, the team never let off the intensity.
"Our level of intensity is really high right now, and you know me — I'm pretty intense myself,” DeCuire said. “It's contagious. But I've got a group of competitors in that locker room. I think they're all taking turns leading in in that regard. So they're hungry they've been waiting for this moment.”
“We take turns going at each other everyday in practice, guys [can be] ready to fight,” Rorie said.
Zach Braxton, a Weber center, was pulled out of his comfort zone against the Griz’s Bobby Moorehead, a senior guard. Moorehead shut down Braxton with lockdown defense. A block against Braxton in the first minute of the game set the tone for the Griz defense.
Moorehead set a team high with 10 rebounds, which is significant considering the guard was going against a center in the paint.
Michael Oguine, a senior guard, followed Moorehead’s block a few transitions later. Weber looked out of place and disjointed the rest of the game. Oguine made a team high of three steals. The Wildcats struggled to keep pace with the Griz the entire game. They looked out of control while the Griz drove the game like a Lamborghini – fast, tight on the turns, and on a road they know well.
Weber’s Jerrick Harding, named to the all-conference first team for his shooting, scored a mere six points due to Rorie’s defense.
“I felt like I just owe it to my teammates,” Rorie said. The team leader wanted to “do whatever I can do to help them win.”
Weber’s only bright spot in the game was a 7-0 run over the last three minutes of the game when the future’s of both teams, freshmen and bench players, cleaned up the last pieces of the game.
The Griz hope that tonight is just another stop on the way to the NCAA tournament. The championship is tomorrow against Eastern Washington at 6 p.m. It will be broadcast on ESPNU.
“We all experienced going to the NCAA tournament,” Moorehead said. “It’s the most amazing feeling. I want that for the seniors and for the younger guys.”