The Mississippi State Bulldogs men’s basketball team will take on the Montana Grizzlies this Saturday, and according to Bulldog head coach Ben Howland, this will be the first true test of the season for his team.
The Grizzlies were about as “middle of the pack” as a team could be last season, finishing with an overall record of 15-13 (7-9 in Big Sky), but return the vast majority of that same roster. Many have the Grizzlies picked to win the Big Sky conference this year, which would bode well for MSU should they exit Saturday with a win.
This is an older roster as well, with eight total upperclassmen and a heap of sophomore guard talent. This team also returns its leading scorer from last year, junior forward Kyle Owens.
Howland spoke briefly about Owens to reporters on Friday.
“He can really step out and shoot the ball, scores around the basket as well, good athlete, 6-foot-8. I really like Bannan, their left-handed Australian," he said. "He can play the four or the three, he’s a tough matchup.”
Watch below to hear everything Howland had to say this week:
Howland was referencing sophomore Grizzly Josh Bannan, a 6-foot-9, 220 pound forward who has arguably the widest skillset on this Montana squad. The Grizzlies are not only talented in the frontcourt, though, as their backcourt might be even deeper. Having an NCAA record holder as your backup point guard is rarely seen as a bad thing to say the least, and Grizzlies guard Cameron Parker set the single-game assist record with 24 in a previous season when he suited up for Sacred Heart.
Parker is not the only threat in this backcourt, though, as all three rotational starters returned to the Grizzlies this year for a potential tournament run. This truly is shaping up to be the first real challenge for Howland and this new-look team, as they look to be 2-0 after this weekend.
The game tips off at 6 p.m. CT and can be found on SEC Network+.