Grizzlies ready for season-opener after exhibition experiences
ALAMOSA, Colo.— Adams State College men’s basketball coach Larry Mortensen said at Wednesday’s Grizzly Club Luncheon that his team’s three exhibition games, all of which were close games with NCAA Division I opponents, allowed his team to gain three things.
Now, Mortensen and the new-look Grizzlies are hoping to put those things to good use for their regular season opener, a Saturday, 4 p.m. tilt with NAIA Lubbock Christian University in Plachy Hall.
The game can be heard on KSPK-FM (103.5 in Alamosa) and via the internet at www.kspk.com and precedes second day action of the Best Western Alamosa Inn Classic that the Grizzly women’s team is hosting this weekend.
Mortensen spoke about how the exhibition games gave his team confidence about the entire regular season and more importantly the 19-game Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference slate that begins in December. He also noted that it “allowed us to bury last season,” referencing his team’s disappointing 3-24 showing in 2004-05.
Mortensen, now beginning his 10th year at the helm, also said that the exhibition games, all of which were decided by seven or fewer points, have made his team “game-ready”, something that the Grizzlies hope to take advantage of against the Chaparrals, who will be making the trip up to 7,544 feet above sea level.
The Grizzlies have proven in their exhibition battles that they can run and are deadly from behind the arc, something that was not always the case in 2004-05.
The Grizzlies, led by junior wingman Wes Jensen (Molalla, Ore.), a transfer from Clackamas (Ore.) Community College, shot at an incredible 50.0 percent clip (29-for-58) from long distance in the preseason. Jensen, standing at 6-foot-6, was an even stronger 15 of 25 (60.0 percent) from behind the line and averaged 17.7 points in the exhibition games.
He was 6 of 9 while scoring a game-high 22 points in ASC’s last game, a 1-point heartbreaker to Big Sky Conference contender Weber State. He also hit four treys while scoring 14 points two nights earlier at Southern Utah, which posted a 69-64 win over ASC.
Jensen is one of just four Grizzly newcomers that made an appearance in Mortensen’s starting lineup during the exhibition season.
6-foot-5 versatile forward Roman Moniak (Sacramento, Calif.), who was introduced at the Grizzly Club luncheon, has started all three games. He averaged 9.0 points per game and tied Jensen for the team rebounding lead with 14 in the three exhibition contests. He also had a team-high seven offensive boards.
Phil Brown (Shingle Springs, Calif.), one of ASC’s tallest players at 6-foot-7, started against Southern Utah and in the Nov. 3 game at Sun Belt power Denver. Russ Murrey (El Cerrito, Calif.), a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged 8.0 points and 3.7 rebounds per game while shooting at a solid 52.6 percent clip.
Senior 2-guard Greg Baker (Lewisville, Texas) led the Grizzly veterans by averaging 12.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. He was also a solid 9-for-11 (81.8 percent) from the charity stripe. Sophomore point guard Marcus Mortensen (Cortez, Colo.) also grabbed 10 assists while doling out nine assists in the exhibition contests.
LCU, under 26th year coach John Copeland, have also had a couple live game experiences. The Chaps started the regular season with a 62-56 home setback to Eastern New Mexico on Tuesday and dropped a 76-44 exhibition game to Division I Texas-El Paso back on Nov. 8.
Guards Dustin Patterson and Max Eding led the team in those games. Patterson, a 6-foot-2 senior, scored 13 points against UTEP and drilled 3 of 9 3-pointers while scoring 11 against Eastern New Mexico. Eding, a 6-foot-3 junior, was held to seven points while committing seven turnovers against UTEP, but came back with 18 points in Tuesday’s game.
The Grizzlies and Chaps will also play in Lubbock, Texas on Dec. 30, but have not met since Nov. 28, 1998 when LCU posted a 71-61 win over the Grizzlies at a tournament in Silver City, N.M. That was the only previous game between the teams in ASC’s NCAA Division II era.