Molly Klinker is one of three freshmen who will be playing Thursday
Oct. 24, 2012
Montana women's basketball coach Robin Selvig uses a hierarchy of three when describing the settings he prefers to use to evaluate his teams. At the bottom is practice. Then he lists intra-squad scrimmages, and finally, at the top of the list, a game against an actual opponent. Consider Thursday night a 2+.
The 2012-13 Montana women's basketball team will be on public display for the first time Thursday when the Lady Griz go head-to-head in the team's annual Maroon and Silver scrimmage at Dahlberg Arena. The Lady Griz will tip off at approximately 7:30 p.m., or shortly after the men's scrimmage that begins at 5:30 p.m. The scrimmages are free to the public.
"I don't think you learn the most about your team until you play somebody else, but one of the benefits of the Maroon and Silver scrimmage is that you finally get out in front of some people, and it at least has the feel of a game experience. And it's fun for the kids," said Selvig, whose team has already had a pair of closed-door intra-squad scrimmages.
"We want it to be competitive and have people compete. And it gives us a chance to work on at least some combinations that we're starting to figure out. Of course we'll only have six or seven aside, so we won't have a regular substitution pattern like we will in our exhibition games."
Selvig has a full roster of 16 on his current team, but only 14 will be in action Thursday. Sidelined because of injury will be sophomore Haley Vining (knee), who is redshirting this season, and freshman Shanae Gilham (knee), who is day-to-day but is expected to be back practicing before the week is out.
Freshman DJ Reinhardt (compartment syndrome) began practicing Tuesday for the first time and will see limited minutes Thursday.
After a number of seasons of being able to play the "inexperienced" card, Selvig admits he finally has a team that can be labeled "experienced." Five starters from last year's 16-14 team are back, and all are upperclassmen.
Seniors Katie Baker, Kenzie De Boer and Alyssa Smith and juniors Torry Hill and Jordan Sullivan accounted for 149 of the team's 150 starts a year ago. Added to that core group are returning letter-winners senior Ali Hurley and sophomores Kellie Cole, Maggie Rickman and Carly Selvig.
That quartet missed just five games between them last year while averaging between 11.6 (Selvig) and 18.6 (Cole) minutes per game.
"We're an experienced team this year, and I haven't been able to say that for a couple of years," Selvig said. "We had mostly (experienced) juniors playing last year, but we were still (redshirt) freshman and sophomore at the point (with Cole and Hill). Now we're another year experienced at that position.
"Experience is valuable. Oftentimes it pays off in close games and in close conference races, and that's the step we're hoping to take this year. Hopefully our experience is a difference-maker."
Besides the nine returning starters and letter-winners coming back, fans will get a chance to watch redshirt freshman Hannah Doran, who has not been in the public eye since last fall's preseason.
Of the five true freshmen, McCalle Feller, a 5-10 guard from Lewistown, Mont., Molly Klinker, a 6-0 forward from Fairfield, Mont., and Rachel Staudacher, a 6-1 forward from Bothell, Wash., will be playing Thursday.
"I don't know if there have been any surprises (in the preseason)," Selvig said when pushed for some developments that might have been unexpected the previous three weeks. "We've had some good (early-morning) practices. I would say that's been a surprise.
"I think the freshmen who are healthy have done a good job in practice picking things up. We can function with them out on the court, and it's not a mess.
"Even though we returned a lot of players, there are still a lot of roles to figure out. If we don't redshirt them, which of the new kids can jump in there?"
Even though Montana's regular-season opener at Temple on Friday, Nov. 9, is still more than two weeks away, the time will go by quickly because two exhibition games will break up the schedule.
Montana will host Carroll in its first exhibition game next Tuesday at 7 p.m., then host Minot State on Monday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m.
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