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Blake Stepp starred in Gonzaga's win over Washington but it was hardly what you'd call a total backcourt effort. Against Montana, the Zags will be looking to get some balance from their guards while continuing to spread the wealth inside to the big post players. It has not been an easy transition for traditionally guard rich Gonzaga to adjust to a team dominated with talent and size down low. But if ever there was an opponent for the Zags to get into a groove, it's Montana.
Pat Kennedy takes over the head coaching duties for the Grizzlies and it's been a rocky start, including a loss to D2 Alaska-Anchorage. But, like all teams, Montana will be aiming for Gonzaga, their marquee game of the year. And playing in Missoula is as tough as it gets for their foes.
6'1" point guard David Bell leads the Griz, scoring a nifty 18 points per game thus far and with accurate 3-point ability. 6'2" guard Kevin Criswell is just a frosh but he is hitting for over 11 ppg and will only be getting better with each game. Look for 6'2" Derrick Mansell to share guard duties as the junior averages almost 7 ppg.
At small forward, 6'6" Steve Horne has been producing nicely, ringing up over 11 ppg and hauling in over 4 rebounds.
The Griz do have some size in the post, namely 6'8" forward Victor Venters who gets 6 ppg and grabs 4 rpg. Another post to keep track of is 6'7" Marcus Rosser who scores almost 5 ppg and snares a solid 8 rpg. Backups in the frontcourt include 6'8" Mike Chavez, 6'9" Ryan Pederson and 6'9" Chris McKay and 6'10" Corey Easley, all three averaging a few minutes a game and 2 or 3 points.
Obviously, Montana is guard-oriented and that's what Gonzaga will have to shut down or limit. Gonzaga should dominate inside. The Zags' game plan may not be so much about Montana as it will be about themselves and ironing out the wrinkles. Team defense and offensive execution will be what GU needs to improve on for future games, including versus WSU two days after this game.