Bobcat men hit practice court

BOZEMAN — Citing athleticism and versatility, Montana State men’s basketball coach Brad Huse officially opens his seventh season as Bobcat head coach with high hopes. But Huse is more impressed with his team’s attitude than any physical attributes.

“It’s a competitive team, they play hard, they challenge each other,” Huse said. “I think we’re really skilled. This team passes the ball really well, and it seems like a really unselfish group. The skill level is at a point where we can really build some things offensively. One through five we have guys that can handle the basketball, pass the basketball, shoot the basketball. But I really like how competitive and unselfish they are. Those are good characteristics.”

Five Bobcats return with starting experience for the team’s first official practice at 5 pm Friday, including one player at each position, more or less. None of those returners, however, started for an entire campaign. For Huse, how the pieces fit together is as important as the pieces themselves.

“As a team you’re trying to create a culture and the expectation of how you practice, how you want to play,” he said of Montana State’s early-season approach. “As far as breaking things down, we’ll do that and get to the fundamentals.”

Improving offensive efficiency stands as one of MSU’s top priorities entering 2012-13. The Bobcats shot just 42.5 percent from the floor last year. More than one-third of the team’s shots, and nearly that ratio of its points, came from the three-point circle a year ago. His team’s wide-ranging skill set is a step in that direction.

“It’s a pretty diverse group in that most of these guys are not locked into any one particular trait,” Huse said. “We can be diverse, but we can keep it simple, too. We won’t have to be overly creative in how we get looks at the basket. That’s been our problem the last few years.”

Several of those offensive weapons return. Xavier Blount averaged 11.7 points in 24 games, while sharpshooter Christian Moon chipped in 10.4. Jamie Stewart, playing only in the first semester, averaged 9.1 points a game and showed the kind of wide-ranging skill set Huse values.

But the team’s chemistry, in terms of attitude and ability, is what Huse remains most impressed with. “This group has meshed well. The guys complement one another well in terms of their skill sets. It’s a pretty diverse group in terms of they’re not locked into any one particular trait. We can be diverse, but we can keep it simple, too. We won’t have to be overly creative in how we get looks at the basket. That’s been our problem the last few years.”

— MSU Sports Information



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