MISSOULA — University of Montana week Montana men's basketball coach Travis DeCuire recently met with the media for the first time since the Big Sky tournament was canceled.
He detailed the future of the program, the effects COVID-19 might have on college basketball, and much more. After all, DeCuire knows as well as anyone the impacts COVID 19 has had on the sporting world.
The Big Sky Conference tournament in Boise was canceled the same day the Montana Grizzlies were due to begin tournament play, and UM never had a chance to chase a tournament three-peat.
Going forward, DeCuire's views on the future of the sport and how it is played is clear.
"We'll play the game however we need to play it, wherever we need to play it. I'll play outside, I have no problem with it. We just have to be ready to adjust. I just hope that we have a season and if we have a season then I'll be excited about that,” DeCuire said.
UM's coaches have had to adjust to the way they recruit with no on-campus visits possible right now and contact strictly over the phone. Still, DeCuire and company have made some splashes with the transfer portal, and the Griz will be fruitful with talent come next season.
The team added transfers Cameron Parker and Cam Satterwhite along with the four incoming freshmen they signed in November.
Aside from graduations, no major players transferred out of the program, meaning Montana returns six players who saw significant minutes a year ago.
Plus, transfers Naseem Gaskin and Michael Steadman will be eligible after sitting out a year, and mid-year transfer Darius Henderson will be eligible after the fall semester.
That's 15 players vying for big minutes, but DeCuire said he doesn't foresee any more changes to the roster this offseason.
"All hands on deck. I think the biggest strength with the group we have returning is chemistry,” he explained. “They all want to win and are all willing to make sacrifices for the team and they all have already done that in some way or another."
The transfer additions help the young Griz team get older. For the underclassmen, minutes that before were easier to come by are now going to be tested.
"They can still get those minutes they thought they'd get prior to us adding two people, you just have to go out and earn them,” DeCuire said.
“And I think that was a weakness for us this year was that there was no competition for minutes for guys. There were guys out there whether they played well or not and that led to some of our inconsistencies,” he continued.
If and when the season is played, DeCuire says the biggest hit will probably be in attendance nationwide -- but he thinks Montana might be an outlier in that category.
"People slip through the cracks, right? In terms of season ticket holders. Your walkups will probably go down just because there's going to be people that don't want to sit by someone,” he said.
“Now for us, Montana didn't get hit that hard and so I think that our typical fans, our community, will be less hesitant than in some of the places that we'll go,” DeCuire added.
But like many sports fans, DeCuire's attention has also been captivated by ESPN's Michael Jordan documentary, the Last Dance. When asked if he thinks Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time, his answer was simple.
"It's not even open for discussion. If you watch the Last Dance closely and you see what he went through to get to the top, I think there's no question he's the goat. If Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley say he's the goat, he's the goat."
The Griz men went 18-13 this year and are scheduled to begin summer practices on June 29.