Big Sky Conference Recap
by Nicholas Lozito
Post Season Recap
The Montana Grizzlies, who finished fifth place in
the conference standings last season, ran the table in
the Big Sky Tournament, earning an automatic bid into
the NCAA Tournament. The Grizzlies knocked off the Big
Sky’s No. 1 seed, Montana State, 70-68 in the
semifinal round of the conference tournament, before
knocking off No. 2 seed Eastern Washington in the
Dan Trammel, who played key roles in both Grizzly
victories, earned conference tournament MVP honors.
For their efforts, Montana earned a No. 15 seed in
the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tourney, and a draw
with No. 2 seed Oregon. The Grizzlies fell 81-62 to
the Ducks, who advanced to the Elite Eight. Ryan
Slider led the Grizzlies with 12 points, while Luke
Ridnour and Luke Jackson each scored 18 for Oregon.
Big Sky regular season champion, Montana State,
advanced to the National Invitational Tournament,
where they knocked off Utah State in the first round,
77-69, but lost to Richmond, 63-48, in the second
round. Conference MVP Jason Erickson averaged just
four points in the tournament, while not scoring a
point in the Richmond loss.
Out of the 11 players who made the Big Sky
All-Conference team, here are my top five: Anthony
Lackey (Forward- Portland State), Jermaine Boyette
(Guard- Weber State), Damir Latovic (Forward- Montana
State), Jason Erickson (Guard- Montana State) and
David Bell (Guard- Montana).
Lackey finished his Viking career as the fourth
all-time scorer in program history after averaging
16.4 points and 6.1 rebounds his senior year. The
6-foot-5 forward also earned first-team all-conference
his junior year.
Boyette, now a senior, is the conference’s top
returning scorer after averaging 17.1 points last
season, while leading the Wildcats to a 8-6 conference
mark. Boyette, a 6-foot-2 guard, is the conference’s
top NBA prospect along with Sacramento State’s Joel
Latovic was a rare commodity in the Big Sky — a
big man with offensive skills. The 6-foot-8
Yugoslavian native will not return for his senior
season, as he will be heading to Yugoslavia to play
Erickson earned AP all-American honorable mention
honors as a sophomore last season after leading the
Bobcats to a regular season championship. The guard
averaged 10.1 points, 2.3 assists, 1.8 rebounds and
Bell returns as quite possibly the conference’s
best long-range shooter. Bell led the Grizzlies with
13.7 points and 98 made 3-pointers last season. He
will return for his senior year.
Conference – This season the Big Sky will be holding
conference games on Thursdays and Saturdays, instead of Fridays and Saturdays as they did last season.
There have also been changes to the postseason
conference tournament, where the higher seed will host
the first round games. The top-two seeds will still
get first round byes, and the No. 1 seed will still
host the tournament’s semi-final and final rounds.
Montana State – Damir Latovic, an all-conference
selection last season, will forgo his senior season to
pursue professional basketball in Yugoslavia, his
native country. The 6-foot-8 center averaged 11
points, while leading the Big Sky with 7.6 rebounds
The Bobcats also lost Aaron Rich (10.9 points, 4.5
rebounds) and James Clark (9.7 points, 3.5 assists) to
graduation. Both Rich and Clark were took Big Sky
Conference Honorable Mention honors.
Eastern Washington – The Eagles lost seniors Jason
Humbert (7.4 points, 3.9 assists), Marco Quinto (6.3
points, 1.9 assists) and Jason Lewis (5.2 points, 4.7
assists) to graduation. Lewis earned conference
honorable mention honors.
Weber State – The Wildcats lose all-conference
selection Chris Woods (11.1 points, 6.9 rebounds) and
Marc Thurig (2.2 points, 2.2 rebounds) to graduation.
Montana – Montana’s biggest off-season pickup wasn’t a
player, but rather former DePaul head coach Pat
Kennedy, who was hired over the summer after former
head coach, Don Holst, was fired.
Kennedy was one of the nation’s finest recruiters
while at DePaul, drawing players such as Quentin
Richardson and Bobby Simmons to the Conference USA
The Grizzlies, who won the 2002 Big Sky Tournament
after finishing tied for fourth-place in conference
play, lose starting point guard Shane Christensen and
forward Dan Trammell to graduation. Trammel earned
conference honorable mention honors.
The Grizzlies also lost Deldre Carr, Ryan Slider and
Northern Arizona – The Lumberjacks have suffered the
biggest blow in graduation. They have lost leading
scorer and all-conference selection Matt Gebhardt
(11.8 points, 4.2 rebounds), Adam Lopez (8.2 points,
3.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists), Joel Rieck (5.2 points,
4.6 rebounds), Brian McHugh (8.3 points, 3.9 rebounds)
and Casey Grundham (8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds).
Portland State – The Vikings have hired Heath Schroyer
as head coach. Schroyer, 30, spent the last season as
an assistant coach at the University of Wyoming.
Former coach Pete Sobotka resigned following a 12-16
The Vikings lose two-time all-conference senior
Anthony Lackey, who finished second in conference with
16.4 points, and seventh with 6.1 rebounds.
Jerrohn Jordan (3.4 points, 1.9 rebounds) and Charles
Madison (2.4 points, 0.8 rebounds) also graduated.
Idaho State – The Bengals have lost seniors D’Marr
Suggs (15.7 points, 5.1 points, 1.59 steals) and J.T.
Nelson (4.6 points, 3.5 rebounds) to graduation.
Suggs took all-conference honors last season.
Sacramento State – Academic ineligibilities to forward
Joel Jones and guard Joe Dawson keep the Hornets from
being one of the league’s top teams this season. Dawson and Jones were the Hornets top-two scorers last
season, and while Jones will most likely redshirt the
season, Dawson will probably sit out just the first half.
David Joiner and Leo Cravey will also have to sit out the
first half of the season due to academic
Center Tony Champion, who has lost 70 pounds while at Sac State,
should now have the quickness to become the quality big man Sac State was looking for last season.
The Hornets have also lost seniors Rene Jacques (6.6
points), Jay Richardson (4.1 points, 3.6 rebounds) and
Troy Selvey (0.7 points, 1.1 rebounds) to graduation.