The Danny Sprinkle era is off to a hot start and the women's team has taken care of business in the early going of their highly anticipated seasons.
The Bobcat men began their campaign down in Logan, Utah where they took on the number-17-ranked Utah State Aggies in one of the west’s toughest environments, Dee Glen Smith Spectrum Arena. Despite being 21.5 point underdogs, the Cats kept pace with the Aggies all night, even going up 66-64 with 5:25 left in the game. But the blue and gold couldn’t hang on, missing crucial free throws and allowing the Aggies to go on a late scoring run to secure their first victory of the season with a final score of 81-73. While MSU couldn’t pull off the upset in Sprinkle’s first game as the head man of the Cats, the performance was nothing short of impressive. MSU, picked by the Big Sky conference media to finish in seventh place, put up a much more competitive game against Utah State than fellow Big Sky member Weber State. Weber State, who was picked to finish second in the conference, lost to the Aggies a few days after the Bobcats, 89-34.
The momentum stuck around for the Bobcats who got their first win of the Sprinkle era in their next contest at home against Rocky Mountain College. The 93-60 win included four Cats scoring in double digits, and 33 points scored off of Rocky turnovers. While the score and stats showed that MSU was constantly in control, Sprinkle realized there was a lot more work to be done, saying, “We came out really strong and we built up a big lead, and then I think we got stagnant. We're immature, we're young. It's a good learning lesson for our guys. Teams aren't going to go away, especially well-coached teams like Rocky.”
While the young men’s team continues to grow as a unit, the upperclassman-led MSU women finished their first week of play exactly as they hoped with three straight victories. The first win came in an exhibition against Northwest Nazarene, who the Cats topped by 23 points. Next, MSU beat UC Davis 77-65 in Worthington arena after four Bobcats scored in double digits, led by freshman guard Darian White with 15 points. The MSU ladies then welcomed over 6,596 fans into Worthington Arena on Monday, where they beat the Carroll College Saints 67-33. The Bobcats, who were picked to win the Big Sky conference this pre-season, look to continue their dominant start this Sunday against MSU Northern before entering a challenging stretch that includes contests against South Dakota State, Minnesota, Seattle University, Gonzaga, Wichita State and Texas A&M before beginning Big Sky play.
While the MSU women have established that they deserve to be the pre-season number one team in the conference, the men appear to be a possible dark horse contender to win the conference. Of course, it is way too early to tell. With both MSU squads off to good starts, the hype is the highest it’s been for either team in over a decade. The men’s team will be tested this weekend with four games in the next five days. They play three games from Friday, Nov. 15 through Sunday, Nov. 17 in Greensboro, NC against Appalachian State, UNCG, and Tennessee Tech. The Cats follow up the trip east, with a venture to one of the wildest venues in college basketball at Grand Canyon on Tuesday, Nov. 19. This game has been sold out for over a month, and last season featured an average crowd size of 7,170 fans in a 7,000-seat arena. The next men’s home game will be Tuesday, Nov. 26 against Colorado Christian while the next women’s home game will be on Sunday, Nov. 17 against MSU Northern. Don’t miss a home game this season as admission is free for students with their CatCards.