Bobcat Basketball Ready for Conference Play
By Danny Waldo
In one of coaching’s oldest clichés, the preseason prepares you for the postseason.
The belief goes the more challenging your schedule is in the preseason, the better prepared your team will be come the postseason. For the Montana State men’s and women’s basketball programs, they are about to find out if that theory is correct as both get set to kick off Big Sky Conference play following challenging preseason schedules.
Montana State had arguably one of the most difficult preseason schedules in the Big Sky, not only because of the opponents, but also because MSU played just four home games in the friendly confines of Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in the first month and a half of the season.
The Bobcats also had contests on the road versus Big Ten power Indiana, and SEC up-and-comer Arkansas, to go along with a road game versus Pac-12 member Washington State. And while MSU didn’t fare too well versus the Hoosiers and Razorbacks, the did manage to steal a neutral-site victory from Washington State just prior to Christmas break.
For their efforts, MSU will kick off Big Sky Conference play on the road at Southern Utah sporting a 4-7 record, but feeling prepared for the rigors of conference play, as the Big Sky will shift to a traditional conference schedule where each team will play twice thanks to North Dakota leaving the league with 11 teams.
MSU enters conference play picked to finish in the middle of the pack, and like everyone else, appears to be chasing league favorite Montana for the conference championship.
The Montana State women’s basketball team will be looking for redemption following an inconsistent and disappointing 2018 campaign.
Coming off a Big Sky title in 2017, the Montana State women appeared poised to repeat in 2018, but a rash of inconsistent play cost MSU in a second round defeat in the Big Sky Conference tournament.
While MSU lost a pair of mainstays in Hannah Caudill and Delaney Junkermier to graduation, they gained a pair of proven transfers in Claire Lundberg and Martha Kuderer who both had to sit out the 2018 season due to NCAA transfer rules after coming over from Seton Hall of the Big East.
Lundberg has taken on a major scoring role, leading MSU at 18.4 points per game, while Kuderer is third in scoring at 9.5. Not only has the duo added a scoring punch on the offensive end, they have also helped bolster MSU on the defensive end, helping lead MSU to a 5-5 mark heading into league play, including a pair of wins in the preseason WNIT.
The women will begin conference play at home, hosting Southern Utah and Northern Arizona inside Brick Breeden Fieldhouse before hitting the road in the new year to take on Portland State and Sacramento State.
For a complete schedule of Montana State men’s and women’s basketball games, log on to www.msubobcats.com.