During Griz basketball games, four freshmen at the end of the bench keep the hype incredibly high. They jump out of their seats after big plays, dancing and celebrating their teammates’ successes. They’re the first ones out onto the court, offering high-fives during timeouts.
The Kaimin caught up with the end of the bench and the future of the Griz — which gives the cheer and dance teams a run for their money — about the transition to college basketball and life at the University of Montana.
The self-titled bench captain, Eddy Egun, joined the Griz after growing up in Los Angeles. He says the biggest transition to Montana has been adjusting to the cold weather, but he’s gotten used to the increased workload in college.
The redshirt, who’s majoring in business marketing, says the Grizzlies’ seniors have taught him how to dial in on defense and be patient on offense. While he waits to see the court, Egun thinks the energy from the bench helps the players who are playing.
“I have to bring the energy all the time, so when it’s my turn the guys on the bench can bring the same energy,” Egun said.
Egun is a goofy guy who enjoys dancing, working out, listening to music and playing video games when he’s not studying or playing basketball.
Mack Anderson, who also plays video games and enjoys watching sports, chose UM over MSU and other schools because it was a winning program with a great coaching staff. Anderson, a forward, has played 160 minutes as a freshman out of Bozeman, largely due to older players’ injuries. He is majoring in business marketing at UM.
Anderson is adjusting to the speed and physicality of college basketball which demands more from him defensively. He says he’s learned a lot from Jamar Akoh, a senior forward, about defense. The energy on the bench, which feeds off coach Travis DeCuire’s intensity, is just one more way Anderson thinks he can contribute to the team.
“We have a lot of fun with it,” Anderson said.
Ben Carter says he joined the Griz from Australia because of the program’s track record and the family-oriented nature of the school, town and basketball program. Carter, a center, is majoring in sociology at UM. He’s played in eight games this season for a total of 42 minutes. Carter says the transition from playing basketball in Australia to playing in the NCAA hasn’t been as difficult for him because of the physical nature of the game back home.
Carter sees offering support from the bench as playing his role on the team, and he is stoked to do everything possible to support the team and his teammates. Carter, a friendly, easy-going guy, spends most of his time outside of basketball and school relaxing, playing Xbox or watching TV.
Freddy Brown III joined Griz basketball from Washington. The guard was drawn to Missoula by head coach Travis DeCuire who he says is like an uncle to him. He is majoring in business with minors in communications and Native American studies, and he spends his time off the court studying, fishing and spending time with his family. The biggest change for him was the fast pace of college basketball.
He’s learned to be consistent in his energy, whether that’s on gameday or in practice, from more veteran players. He takes his job of keeping the energy high for his teammates on the court seriously. He says that celebrating big plays from the bench makes it easier to transition onto the court when his number is called. Brown has played in six games this season, scoring 12 points.
“We are enjoying the process, bringing the bench energy, knowing our time will come,” Brown said.