Grizzlies hoopsters ready for Town & Country Cool Sunshine Classic
by David Mejia
ALAMOSA, Colo. – Its game time, baby! The tough October and early November practices now a memory, the Adams State College men’s team will hit the floor on Friday for its first regular season game of the year.
This time it’s for real in the Town & Country Cool Sunshine Classic Tournament at Placy Hall on the Adams State College campus. The Grizzlies are coming off an impressive outing, having doubled-up visiting Colorado College last Saturday, 104-52, in their only exhibition contest this season.
“We don’t want to learn from losses,” ASC head coach Larry Mortensen said. “That’s the make-up of the team this year. We want to get those things taken care of in practice and the exhibition games and we want to win, whether its exhibition, preseason, conference or anything else. We want to accumulate those wins because we have some high expectations for this year.”
Adams State basketball fans were able to see a great deal of the team in the exhibition game against Colorado College. Mortensen may not be using as many players in the Town & Country Tournament, as these games count and its time to settle in on some combinations and positions.
“This time of the year we’re going to play a lot of people,” the coach said. “We haven’t got our rotations down and I still don’t know what everyone can do, but I do know we’re going to put the people out there to win. The minutes probably won’t be as equal as they were against Colorado College, but we’ll still probably play 10 people.”
Mortensen is looking for big minutes and scoring from Roman Moniak (Sacramento, Calif.) and Wes Jensen (Molalla, Ore.). The seniors are the returning top two scorers from last season, as Moniak averaged 16 points per game, while Jensen accounted for 11.4 points per contest.
The coach is also counting on point guards Marcus Mortensen (Cortez, Colo.) and Larry Charles, Jr. (Tucson, Ariz.) to handle the ball, run the offensive sets and apply pressure at the top defensively. Mortensen and Charles, who dished out 80 and 78 assists last season, respectively, are very capable scorers as well.
David Hull (Belen, N.M.) is back to form and will be a serious scoring threat from the perimeter. The senior saw limited action last season, but is fully recovered and is playing as well as he did before injuring himself, according to Coach Mortensen. Russ Murrey (El Cerrito, Calif.), Aaron Stallworth (Stockton, Calif) and Kyle Forster (Sanford, Colo.) also may see some significant court time, according to the coach.
The best thing about the weekend for the Grizzlies, aside from the fact that the Town & Country Tournament is the only sporting event in the San Luis Valley this weekend, is that the Grizzlies will be playing in front of their fans. Something that is not lost on Coach Mortensen.
“There’s a lot of energy when you open up at home and in a tournament,” Coach Mortensen said. “We had a good crowd for an exhibition game and we’re expecting it to be as good or better this week. And the players feed off that energy and it should help us get off to a positive start.”
The Grizzlies will open their regular season at 8 p.m. on Friday against Texas-Permian Basin, a team that is coming off of a 19-9 season in 2005-06, and is making the transition from NAIA Division I to NCAA Division II.
The Falcons return two of the four double-digit scorers from a season ago in Nedrie Simmons and Mansour Mbye. Simmons, a 5-foot-9 senior point guard, who averaged 12.3 points, had 55 steals and dished out 174 assists last season. Mbye, a 6-5 220-pound forward from London, England, averaged 11 points and 7.3 rebounds a game last season.
Fort Lewis College, which was the coaches’ preseason favorite to win the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference West Division, will take on Dixie State (Utah) in the first game of the tournament at 6 p.m. The Skyhawks feature 6-foot-5 senior forward Tim Bieri, who a Preseason First Team All-RMAC selection. Fort Lewis garnered 12 of the 14 first-place votes. The Grizzlies were picked third in the West with 50 points.
Dixie State, alike Texas-Permian Basin, is in the midst of making a transition. The Rebels, who dropped exhibition games to Utah Valley State and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, are jumping from the junior college ranks to NCAA Division II in all sports.
The action in the Town & Country Cool Sunshine Classic gets underway Friday at 6 p.m. when Dixie State takes on Fort Lewis and is followed by the Texas-Permian Basin-Adams State game at 8 p.m. The Grizzlies game can be heard on KSPK-FM (103.5) or via the internet at www.kspk.com.