Grizzlies look to get back on winning track at Iron Horse Inn Classic
DURANGO, Colo.— The Adams State College men’s basketball team looks to get back on the winning track this weekend when the Grizzlies play two games at Fort Lewis College’s Iron Horse Inn Classic, named for a hotel on the side of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, one of the nation’s most historic and scenic tracks.
The Grizzlies, 1-1 thus far on the young season, will meet a pair of teams that are off to quick starts. Friday’s game is against the Grand Canyon (Ariz.) University Antelopes. ASC then takes on Wayne State (Neb.) College on Saturday. Both games in Fort Lewis’ Whalen Gymnasium tip off at 6 p.m. and can be heard on KSPK-FM (103.5 in Alamosa) or via the internet at www.kspk.com. The host Skyhawks (2-0) meet Wayne State Friday and Grand Canyon Saturday.
After playing three NCAA Division I teams in close exhibition games, the Grizzlies and 10th year coach Larry Mortensen got off to a good start defeating Lubbock Christian (Texas) 60-47 on Nov. 19 in Plachy Hall. The Grizz then left Portales, N.M. disappointed after suffering a 69-57 setback to Eastern New Mexico last Saturday.
Mortensen cannot be disappointed with the play of senior guard Greg Baker (Lewisville, Texas) and junior forward Roman Moniak (Sacramento, Calif.), but did speak on how the team needs to find some ways for junior wingman Wes Jensen (Molalla, Ore.) to get more open shots at this week’s Grizzly Club Luncheon.
Baker is averaging 17.0 points on a solid 50.0 percent shooting effort through the first two games. The Ukrainian-born Moniak, who came to ASC from San Joaquin Delta (Calif.) College, has recorded a double-double in each of his first two games as a Grizzly.
Baker currently ranks second in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in scoring while Moniak sits in a tie for third place in overall rebounding. He also has a big lead in the RMAC’s offensive rebounding category.
Jensen, a Clackamas (Ore.) Community College transfer, averaged 17.7 points while hitting 60 percent (15 of 25) of his long distance calls in the exhibition season. However, he has been held to just 10 total points and a 2-for-7 effort from 3-point territory in the first two regular season games of the year.
Defensively, Mortensen has been especially happy with the play of junior Russ Murrey (El Cerrito, Calif.), a 6-foot-7 Eastern Arizona College transfer. The Grizzlies lead the RMAC in field goal percentage defense (.336) and are second behind Fort Lewis in scoring defense after allowing just 58 points per game.
The Grizzlies do need to improve on their free throw shooting and currently sit last in the RMAC with a sub-par .500 clip.
Grand Canyon, under 8th-year coach Scott Mossman, is off to a quick 5-1 start. The ‘Lopes defeated UC-Colorado Springs by a combined 62 points in a home-and-home sweep and have eclipsed the century mark in three of their five wins. Senior guard/forward Noe Alonzo is averaging 23.5 points per game and is one of several deadly 3-point shooters hitting 17 of 36 attempts (47.2 percent) in the six games.
The ‘Lopes who drilled 13 treys in Wednesday night’s 100-68 win at UC-Colorado Springs, are also relying on senior point guard Ryan Nelson. The 6-footer recorded his third career triple-double in the team’s season-opening home win over UC-Colorado Springs on Nov. 15 and leads the team in rebounding and assists with 6.5 and 7.3 per game averages.
Junior Jason Stromvall is averaging 17.8 points per game while junior guard Rich Davis leads the team with 18 3-pointers aiding his 12.8 point per game average.
Wayne State enters the weekend with a 2-1 mark but has not played since the day before Thanksgiving (Nov. 23). Their last win was a 76-74 triumph over Nebraska-Kearney, the Wildcats’ first in seven tries, dating back to 1999. They also posted a narrow 80-78 win neutral-court win over St. Cloud (Minn.) State to start the year before being drubbed 73-41 by Minnesota State on Nov. 19.
The Wildcats and Coach Rico Burkett are quite balanced and have three players averaging in double figures. Sophomore guard Bryce Caldwell leads the bunch with an 11.0 per game average while 6-foot-9 senior forward Tom Sherlock is averaging 10.7 points and a team-high 8.0 rebounds per game. Dallas Hodges is pouring in 10.0 points per game while Matt Rathje is not far behind with a 9.7 per game average, aided by his 75.0 percent (12-for-16) shooting effort thus far. Dusty Smith, the team’s leading assister has also started all three of WSC’s games.