Tech men look to extend their winning streak(s)
The fourth weekend of Frontier Conference play is about to get underway. Before we talk about Tech and Rocky, let’s start with the conference standings.
(conference – Overall)
#12 Montana Tech 5-1 17-2
Providence 4-2 10-9
UM Western 3-3 8-11
MSU Northern 2-4 13-6
Rocky Mountain 2-4 10-8
Carroll College 2-4 8-9
MSU Northern @ Providence
Carroll College @ Western
Montana Tech @ Rocky
On February 22, 2019, Rocky walked out of the HPER with an 84-80 win over Montana Tech. That is the last win for Rocky Mountain College over Montana Tech. Since that game, Tech has won 13 straight games over the Battlin' Bears.
When the two programs squared off on December 1st Montana Tech got the win 82-59. The Diggs led 37-18 at the half, holding the Bears to 28% shooting in the first 20 minutes. Four of Montana Tech’s five starters finished in double digits, led by Bellach with 18, Ure with 14, and Williams and Diekhans each had 13.
Jesse Owens was the leading scorer in that first game for Rocky, knocking down 13, Kael Robinson was next with 10 points. That is the tale of the tape on their year as well. Owens averages 12 points a game, Robinson next at 11 a contest. Kace Kitchel comes in at 10 a game and Maxim Stephens at 9. Rocky enters Thursday having lost their last 3 games, two of those on the road at Western, and Providence. They will look to gain some ground in conference with 3 of their next 4 at home.
Montana Tech, winners of 8 straight, enters with a full head of steam. On the offensive side of the ball, the Diggs are averaging 84 points a game (24th in the country) as opposed to only allowing 67 points a game defensively.
The big one for me, is you have to remember this team only returned one starter from a year ago, they are still learning each and every game.
Montana Tech is led by that lone returning starter, Caleb Bellach. Belly has had a fantastic year thus far. For me, the difference this year is twofold. First is his consistency. Caleb isn’t going to ‘surprise’ anyone, as an opposing coach you damn well better know where #10 is at all times. That said, he still is able to find seams to the basket, he can still find small windows to elevate and score and he takes advantage of those opportunities. The second factor is, it feels like the game has slowed down drastically for him this year. With his floor awareness, anticipation, and his athleticism all working together, he makes opponents react to him rather than reacting to them.
On the season Bellach is averaging 17 points a game, that number jumps to 20 for conference games. Asa Williams is another guy that continues to impress and continues to bring it when it matters, in conference. In Frontier play this year he is averaging 15 a game, overall he averages 12 points a contest.
What a difference a year makes.
A year ago, Michael Ure played in 29 games, and scored 63 points, averaging just over 2 points a game. This year he has played in all 18 games, averaging 13 points and 7 rebounds a game.
What might be the biggest strength of this team is its bench. Tech has 7 guys averaging over 20 minutes of playing time a game, and another 4 that are getting more than 10 minutes a contest. They can go 10 guys deep easy, and not lose a step.
This will be an important weekend for the Diggs with back-to-back road games in hostile environments. Let’s see how they respond.