Montana Tech’ men’s basketball team will face an Oredigger legend this season.
Oredigger coach Patrick O’Herron announced the 2015-16 schedule today, and the slate includes a game at the University of Houston on Friday, Nov. 13. The Cougars, of course, are coached by former Tech coach Kelvin Sampson. Full schedule
“We want to thank Coach Sampson for giving Montana Tech the opportunity to play the University of Houston,” O’Herron said in a statement. “It is a great chance for our team to compete against a great coach and student-athletes.”
Sampson, a two-time Frontier Conference Coach of the Year, led the Orediggers from 1981-85. Sampson produced three conference championships and three consecutive 22-win seasons before leaving for Washington State. He spent time at Oklahoma and Indiana before coaching in the NBA. Sampson led the Sooners to a Final Four appearance in 2002.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to bring Montana Tech to Houston,” Sampson said in a statement. “I began my head coaching career at Montana Tech, and Karen and I loved our time in Butte, where both children, Kellen and Lauren, were born. I am excited to see the Orediggers compete against our student-athletes, and it’s always a pleasure to give back to Montana.”
Sampson and his wife, Karen, were leading donors in the renovation of the HPER Complex. The court is named in Sampson’s honor.
The Houston trip is also a homecoming for a number of Orediggers. Five current student-athletes hail from the Houston area.
“We’re starting to build a pipeline into Houston, and this is a great opportunity to get our program the exposure in the area,” O’Herron said. “We have a great alumni fan base in Houston, and I am looking forward to seeing them at the game, along with the family and friends of our players from the Houston area.”
The Montana Tech Foundation is planning alumni events at the basketball game and a tailgate at the Houston Cougars home football game on Saturday, Nov. 14.
“The Montana Tech Foundation has been a great asset connecting us to the Houston alumni and Coach Sampson, and I want to thank them for their support,” added O’Herron.
The Orediggers have 30 more games on their schedule in addition to the exhibition against Houston.
The big change to this year’s schedule is the number of conference games. With Westminster leaving the conference after last season, the Frontier opted for a three-game schedule with each conference member. The Orediggers will face all opponents three times each season and rotating the number of home games against a conference opponent each year. The conference season gets underway on Dec. 3 at Carroll College. The first home conference game is Dec. 5 against Lewis-Clark State.
Home opener for the Orediggers is October 9th against Concordia University of Edmonton.