Oct. 23, 2012
The Grizzly men’s basketball team will take the court Thursday evening for the annual Maroon and Silver scrimmage with some familiar faces in the lineup, and several new ones.
Big Sky Defensive MVP Will Cherry will not be on the court after suffering a foot injury during the off-season. The senior is expected to return mid-December, before conference play starts.
Griz fans will get their first look at the future of Montana basketball Thursday, when the men tip off at 5:30 p.m. Junior College transfer Spencer Coleman and freshmen Jake Wiley and Andy Martin are all expected to contribute this season for the Grizzlies.
There will also be a new face on the bench for the Grizzlies. Bill Evans’ departure to become the head coach at Idaho State left a vacancy, which was filled by veteran coach Kerry Rupp.
With the new members of the team let’s take some time for introduction to the new assistant coach and players that will be on the court for the Grizzlies this year.
6-7 – 210 – forward – Eugene, Ore. - Eastern Arizona College
As a sophomore at EAC Coleman averaged 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds a game on his way to a spot on the junior college All-America team.
Head coach Wayne Tinkle is impressed with his ability to play multiple positions and looks forward to exploiting those talents.
“Right now he is going to play a lot on the outside but there will be situations where we need to bring him inside when we go smaller and he has the athleticism to do that,” Tinkle said.
Coleman has made big steps already in his development and Tinkle knows he is going to be important for the Griz this season.
“Spencer is a very quiet unassuming guy on the floor,” Tinkle said. “He is still in a learning mode and sometimes that slows him down. We are trying to get him in the mode to not worry about mistakes and concentrate on intensity. He will make mistakes but if he maintains that intensity he will make a big impact right away.”
Maybe the most important thing that Tinkle has seen so far is what Coleman brings above the shoulders.
“Spencer is a high IQ guy and when he settles in he is going to be a big part of what we are doing,” Tinkle said.
6-6 – 205 - forward – Newport, Wash. – Newport HS
Wiley grew up in Long Beach, Calif. but his dad moved him to Newport, Wash. when he started struggling in high school with personal issues. His father passed away during his junior year of high school but he thrived in Newport. He became a three sport star with All-State nods in football and basketball.
He averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds a game and was named team captain and MVP.
“He really turned things around in Newport,” Tinkle said. “He had his Grandpa and another family mentoring him and he got focused on school and turned a corner. He is a delightful young man and I think he is going to be a super-star for us. He has a great personality and I think that fans are really going to like what he brings.”
Tinkle believes Wiley will be a big part of the Griz will do in the future and part of that is built in sweat.
“He has such a great athletic upside but what I love about him is that he is that he is a hard worker,” Tinkle said. “He is very appreciative of the opportunity to be a Griz and the sooner he meets his potential the better it will be for our team.”
With the graduation of Derek Selvig, Tinkle is looking to fill the gap left in the inside and he believes Wiley will help fill that gap.
“I’m not sure that we’ve had a player at his position that is athletic as him,” Tinkle said. “He can shoot and put it on the floor like a much smaller player but we are going to have him at the four.”
7-0 – 225 – Center – Casper, Wyo. - Natrona County HS/ St. John’s Northwest Military Academy
Andy averaged 9.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots for Natrona County during his senior season. He spent the 2011-12 season at a St. John’s developing his game and strength.
“He is a big kid but he didn’t have a lot of athletes around him growing up in Casper,” Tinkle said. “When he went to the Military Academy he got the chance to be in a good program with a good coach and played against some Division I athletes.”
Despite the year of development, Martin still has room to improve, but Tinkle and his staff are up to the task.
“He still needs to continue to grow,” Tinkle said. “We’re coaching the heck out of him, he is working hard and he is getting better every day, but he is going to make some mistakes and we just need to get him through that. It is all part of the process.”
His confidence is the first thing that the Grizzly coaching staff is trying to address.
“He is extremely soft-spoken,” Tinkle said. “If he does something good in practice and the guys give him a chest bump he gets embarrassed. He needs to get a little tougher and a litter more confidence, but I think he has a bright future.”
Despite the youth all three of these guys, they all need to contribute this year to keep the Grizzlies in the hunt for the second straight Big Sky title.
“They are going to have to contribute this year,” Tinkle said. “We only have four juniors and seniors with experience so we have eight young guys that are going to have to help us out especially early.”
Coach Kerry Rupp may be new to Montana but he has a long resume of coaching experience to bring to his new position.
Rupp was the head coach at Louisiana Tech from 2007-2011 and led the team to a 24-11 record in 2009-10. Prior to his time at La Tech had assistant stints at Alabama-Birmingham, Indiana and Utah.
A Utah native, Rupp coached high school in The Beehive State for over 20 years before moving into the college ranks.
“Kerry has great experience, tenacity, and knowledge,” Tinkle said. “I’m thrilled to have someone on the staff with his experience and it is already paying dividends.”
Even with the experience a new coach brings new challenges with the way the student-athletes interact with their new coach.
“We’ve got to settle in and define roles with a new coach,” Tinkle said. “A new coach will always need to develop relationships with players and figure out how they respond to his coaching style.”
Tinkle and his staff may be the ones that benefit the most from having a veteran coach in the folds.
“We are just thrilled that a guy like Kerry was interested in being an assistant here,” Tinkle said. “He is full of energy, works his tail off. The way he is organized and manages his time has been a great example to the other coaches and to myself for that matter.”
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