MARCH MADNESS EXPERIENCE

With this being the month of March Madness, let’s take a look back on the time the Montana Grizzlies had in the craziness of March last season. The Griz would draw the powerhouse Michigan Wolverines in Wichita, Kansas. The Griz were ranked as a 14 seed after winning the Big Sky championship game and having a dominant record of 26-7. Montana would fall to the 3 seeded Wolverines 47-61. Michigan would make it all the way to the National Championship game and eventually fall short to Villanova.

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THE JOURNEY OF A MID-MAJOR STUDENT BASKETBALL MANAGER

The majority of people hear the job title “basketball manager” and instantly think of a water boy who does laundry but, it is way more than that. Student basketball managers are the back bone to any successful program. They are the people who are first in the office and the last to leave. They are the ones who show up to practice a whole hour before anyone else. The people who strive to be a student basketball manager want only one thing… and it is not the glamour but, it is to see the players and the team succeed.

“People look at managers and they think of guys getting balls and water. The reality is that the manager is managing the program. They’re putting in as many hours as anyone else, and they’re as valuable as anyone in the program because they’re the liaison between the student-athlete and the staff.” – Travis DeCuire (Montana Head Coach)

The real MVP’s in student managers come at the mid-major level. The level of college basketball where the talent and expectations are the same as those at the high major level. The manager staffs at the mid-major realms are quite a bit smaller because of school size and budget. The normal manager staffs at the high major level have an average of 8-12 managers and travel somewhere from 5-6 managers. Compared to the mid-major level, have staffs from 1-5 managers and travel 0-2 managers.

For most managers they are on complete staffs. Meaning, they have a coaching staff that completes each role. But for Montana the role of Director of Basketball Operations has fallen on a manager over the past 2 seasons.

For myself being a manager at the University of Montana it has been a HUGE advantage to be at the mid-major level in my college career. Over the past 5 years I have been behind the scenes for the Griz and mastering every trait that has come my way. I have been thrown some ridiculous tasks and tremendous responsibilities.

When I first came in to college basketball, I had to send email after email to the former Director of Basketball Operations for the Griz until I was given an opportunity to prove my worth. I had to tryout at that year’s basketball summer camps as a camp coach. This story has a twist to it that is very common in college athletics, a coaching change. The summer I was auditioning to become a manager for Montana the entire staff left for Oregon State and a new staff came in. With the unknown of whether or not I would still have the same opportunity or not I introduced myself as if I was going to be a part of the team.

Entering season number one and not knowing what to expect from being a student manager and still not knowing what will be expected of me I took all tasks to the best of my ability. Being under a tremendous Head Manager, Kramer Ungaretti, and learning under him and the new staff that was more technology driven than the last. It led me to wanting to pursue a job in basketball front office. I would spend the next 2 years being a student manger and have the tasks of; assisting in creating graphics for recruits, updating recruiting records, setting up practice, assisting in practice, film setup, managing and clipping film, assisting ordering team meals, sending weekly mailouts, and yes, I also was getting water while wiping up sweat from the floor. These tasks helped me form into taking over the head manager position once Ungaretti graduated.

Year three ended up being the year of the most growth. I stepped into the role of Head Manager and brought on more responsibilities. I moved into my own desk into the coach’s offices, where I shared with an assistant coach. I was in the office, FINALLY! In a way for a young professional to be given their own space in a work place that they have always dreamed of working, gave me a peace of mind. I wanted to prove myself and prove that I can fill the shoes of my predecessor and not let the team feel like they took a step backwards. My advice to current and potential managers is to “strive to be the first one in and the last one out” as this has helped me excel in ranks. My family has taught hard work and they believe you have to start from the ground up to really know the industry. The year of being a head manager I was fortunate enough to be able to travel with the team and see what it takes for a mid-major team to travel on a more minimal budget. Traveling with the team has taken me to some remarkable areas. Areas like Costa Rica, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and across the United States. For this year I was still doing all the same tasks as I was before but was granted more advanced tasks. I was in charge of all meals on the road and assisted the Ops with anything else that was needed for travel. I was also the head of Team Communication, was in constant communication with the entire team on upcoming events, travel, academic meetings and community outreach programs. I continued to develop as a video coordinator and started making my own highlight films for the team.

I also spent hours in assisting the coaching staff with scouts and other projects. One skill that a majority of managers overlook is the use of Photoshop. Photoshop is a skill that can put you over the top as a manager. Having the capability of making graphics and other informative tools will separate you and make you more widely used. 

Jumping forward to my last two years of being a student basketball manager, I moved into the role of Director of Operations. Not holding the title as the teams Director of Operations but having the majority of the tasks. As the last two seasons I planned all of the team’s travel. Everything from booking flights, hotels, bus transportation, scheduling of away facilities, head coach recruiting travel and team meals. All while keeping track of the team’s budget. I also keep numerous statistics. I keep track of the teams plus/minus, shot charts, teams passing shot percentage, defense and offense efficiency, hustle chart, and the teams different lineups used in a game with how they performed.

For managers it is a very competitive environment and the managers that do not focus on the glam are those who are in it for a career. Managers take this job seriously. You will not find many individuals sprinting to wipe up sweat on the floor or running to give a head coach a board. You always need to be aware of what is going on as a manager and be on edge during every aspect. It is a thankless job. Managers develop skills in all aspects of the basketball world. They become masters at crafts that have nothing to do with basketball. As an Assistant Coach at Montana, Coach Flores, has said to me, “this job is 80% organization/hard work, 15% completing tasks, and 5% basketball”. Summer camps are the bread and butter for managers. They are typically asked to show off their leadership and at some schools run the entire camp. Being a camp counselor all the way to a camp director has taught me the most. The amount of planning and detail you need for a camp is quite extensive. It is a job that takes multiple people and multiple departments throughout the University to make it successful. Not to mention the leadership it takes to speak in front of hundreds of kids and get all their attention and instruct them to do something can be overwhelming for first timers and will take some time to fully develop. As I have mentioned many tasks above, there are so much more that a manager does to help aid the coaching staff and do not forget they are still full time students.

The 4 C’s of Being a Great College Basketball Manager:

Commitment, Communication, Consistency, Common Sense

1. COMMITMENT

*  To the JOB

*  To your TEAM

*  To the SCHEDULE

2. COMMUNICATION   

*  With your BOSSES

*  With your COACHES

*  With your TEAM

*  With your fellow MANAGERS

3. CONSISTENCY  

*  In your ACTIONS

*  In your APPEARANCE

4. COMMON SENSE

*  With the KEYS

*  With the EQUIPMENT

*  When TRAVELING

With being a part of a small staff and having full time responsibilities at such a young age for a program that is on the rise, I have gathered so much information that has set me up for a bright future. With a mid-major staff, the majority of them are guys who are from the DII ranks or high major teams, they offer a verity of connections for you to network with. With the specific staff at the University of Montana and the other coaches that have moved onto other programs their connections and experiences are impressive. There have been peaks and valleys to this whole process and I am eternally grateful for what the University of Montana, the Missoula community, current/past players, coaches, and Coach DeCuire have provided for me.

“It’s not an easy job to be successful with, and that’s why a lot of the better managers move on to high positions. Some of the best coaches were managers, because they realized that X’s and O’s aren’t always the biggest thing when it comes to managing basketball programs.” – Travis DeCuire

So instead of people looking for glamour, schools are looking for students who want to:

• Haul luggage onto buses and hotels in the late hours

• Fill and refill Powerade bottles

• Cut and edit film until their eyes cross

• Chart hustle plays and other obscure stats at games

• Work camps in the summer

• Sacrifice weekends and holiday trips in exchange for practices

• Stand, just so far apart, ball tucked under one arm, other arm on hip, towel over shoulder.

In other words, individuals who are willing to do just about whatever they are asked to do to make life easier for basketball players their own age. At the end of the road you will not want to replace it for anything else in the world. Best college job.

Quotes of Inspiration

“Don’t let the peaks and valleys get to you. Keep rolling.” 
– Chad Buchanan (Indiana Pacers GM)

“Rest at the end and not in the middle”  – Mr. Fisk (Kobe Bryant’s English teacher)

“Inspire the people next to you, that is how you create greatness” – Kobe Bryant

GO GRIZ!

Top 5 Disrespectful Dunks of All Time

By: Isaac Camel

Dunking is one of the, if not the most electrifying play in basketball. There is something different about dunking that doesn’t correlate with the smoothness basketball, and that’s why I think it is amazing. There is a different type of dunk that occurs when the person dunking loses all respect for the person in front of him and tries to embarrass the defender. These are my favorite types of dunk. In the post I will count down my personal top 5 Disrespectful Dunks of all Time.

5.            The first dunk on this list comes from Michael Jordan’s right-hand man Mr. Scottie Pippen. In the match up between the Chicago Bulls and their Eastern Conference rivals Scottie Pippen goes up and slams it all over 7’1” Patrick Ewing who was known to be a huge physical presence in the post. The dunk alone wasn’t that disrespectful by itself. What put this dunk on the list is what he did after. Pushes Patrick Ewing down and steps over him, which is the ultimate sign of disrespect.

4.            The next dunk comes from Lebron James who almost ended Jason Terry’s career in the blink of an eye. A Boston Celtic turnover starts a chain of events that will leave Jason Terry’s career tainted for a long time. Jason Terry decides to get back on defense to try to defend the key (Big Mistake). The Miami Heat throw together a double ally-op for Lebron James flying right down the middle, Jason Terry want to jump to contest the dunk but he jumps late and only makes it about halfway up Lebron’s body. Terry falls down and gets a foul called on him, and to add insult to injury Lebron Stares at him on the ground.

3.            Number three on this list comes to us from Dwayne Wade. 6’4” Dwayne Wade challenges 6’11” Anderson Varejao and wins. This is one of those dunks that kind of catches you off guard. But when it happens you can’t help but get excited.

2.            The runner up on this list is when Shawn Kemp posterizes Alton Lister. Kemp who is known for dunking on people showed off his talents when he dunked this one. But what puts this so high on my list is the act that Kemp does afterwards. He gives Lister the double point to rub in the fact that he just dunked on him.

1.            The number one most disrespectful dunk of all time in my opinion is when Shaquille O’Neal ruined Chris Dudley’s night. All of the previous dunks on this list was when the defender had to help and make a quick decision to jump. This one on the other hand is different because Dudley is guarding O’Neal the entire time. He simply gets overpowered and looks like a child trying to play defense. Then Shaq gives Dudley a little push to make him fall down which pushes Dudley over the top. But in the end, this dunk will always get shown on anyone’s list of top dunks.

Top 25 NBA Players Under 25

Grady Matter

25-21

25. Jabari Parker (age 23)

24. Trae Young (age 20)

23. Brandon Ingram (age 21)

22. Andrew Wiggins (age 23)

21. Domantas Sabonis (age 22)

Out of the five guys listed here, Trae Young and Domantas Sabonis probably have the highest upside, and have a chance to climb these ranks within the next couple years. Brandon Ingram flashes potential at times, but is wildly inconsistent and hasn’t developed as well as expected for year 3. As for Wiggins, and Parker, both are over-paid volume scorers who shoot poorly from deep and consistently play bad defense.

20-16

20. Julius Randle (age 24)

19. Myles Turner (age 22)

18. Jaylen Brown (age 22)

17. Lauri Markannen (age 21)

16. Kyle Kuzma (age 23)

Kuzma continues to build upon an impressive rookie season upping his ppg to 19.1 as the second option on the Lakers.  Jaylen Brown and Myles Turner both play outstanding defense, but have taken backseat roles on offense within their respective teams. Markannen has been extremely efficient on offense for a Bulls team lacking any scoring while Randle has been a revelation since signing with New Orleans, averaging 20ppg and 9.2rpg for the year.  

15-11

15. Jamal Murray (age 21)

14. DeAndre Ayton (age 20)

13. D’Angelo Russell (age 22)

12. Clint Capela (age 24)

11. Jayson Tatum (age 20)

Tatum is as smooth of a scorer as there is in the NBA and will continue to rise up this list. There probably isn’t another center better suited for the Houston Rockets than Clint Capela, who excels on the boards and finishing lobs. Russell has only gotten better since leaving the Lakers. Ayton has been a bright spot on an awful Suns squad, showcasing versatility on the offensive end. Murray has played a huge role in the success the Nuggets have been having this year.

10. DeAaron Fox (age 21)

Fox has done the impossible by making the Sacramento Kings playoff contenders for the first time in 12 years. Fox has been shooting 46% from the field and 36.4% from deep while averaging 17.2ppg and 7.1apg. Not only has Fox been extremely efficient, he also leads one of the most fun offenses to watch in the league. The progression of Buddy Hield and Fox as a duo is something to keep your eye on going forward. 

9. Donavan Mitchell (age 22)

Mitchell has built on a phenomenal rookie campaign following some early season struggles. He’s a great two-way player with a chance to have a HOF career. These first two years are eerily similar to Dwayne Wade’s early career.

8. Kristaps Porzingis (age 23)

Porzingis (when healthy) is among the most skilled players in the league. At 7’2 he is extremely long but has guard-like skills. His ability to shoot from deep makes him nearly impossible to guard. There still remains a question of durability when it comes to his long-term health.

7. Devin Booker (age 22)

Devin Booker has developed at a much faster rate than most expected. He’s currently averaging 25ppg and 6.7apg. While his scoring has been great, it hasn’t translated into wins for Phoenix. Expect Booker and Ayton to develop into a great duo within the next couple years.

6. Ben Simmons (age 22)

Ben Simmons recently made his first all star game, and it’s not hard to see why when you look at his averages of 16.7ppg, 8apg, and 9.2rpg. Despite not having a jumpshot, he’s been very effective because he has such a versatile game. I’m not convinced Simmons ever develops a jumpshot and it probably will hinder him in today’s NBA. Regardless, Simmons is a generational talent as a 6’10 point guard with exceptional court vision.

5. Luka Doncic (age 19)

Doncic has been the most impressive rookie since LeBron James. His step-back 3’s in clutch moments are unreal for a guy that’s 19. One of the most exciting players in the league already, expect Doncic to develop into a great. 

4. Karl Anthony Towns (age 23)

Karl Anthony Towns puts up ridiculous stats and is as skilled a post as there is in the league. No one has ever denied how talented Towns is, but it’s fair to wonder if any other star has as empty stats as he does. Going forward, Towns will have to prove he can lead a team to be contenders, otherwise, he’s likely to fall on this list.

3. Nikola Jokic (age 23)

Jokic may end up being the best passing center of all time as he averages 7.7apg. His game is really unconventional with a strange looking jumpshot and below average athleticism, but it sure does work well. Denver currently has the second best record in the West and Jokic is the biggest reason why.

2. Joel Embiid (age 24)

Embiid doesn’t have any weaknesses in his game. He’s very skilled and physically dominant in the post. Yet, he can also run the floor like a deer. Not to mention, he’s a pretty good defensive center. It’s not hard to envision Embiid having a hall of fame career, with a chance at being one of the great centers to have played.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (age 24)

The Greek Freak is most likely to be the face of the NBA after LeBron’s run is over. He’s electrifying in every sense of the word and continues to get better. The Milwaukee Bucks have become title contenders through the dominance of Giannis and there’s no reason they can’t sustain it for the next 10 years.

The Lineman’s Guide to Cutting Weight: Fitness After Football

by Myles McKee-Osibodu

If you’ve played football at any level, you understand the expectations and pressure put on athletes to be able to gain or drop weight quickly. While these pressures can be felt at every position, there’s no position groups that feel these demands more intensely than the offensive and defensive line, where size matters almost as much as talent. I’ve spent the last few years of my life as an NCAA Division I student-athlete, but it wasn’t until football was over that I was finally able to achieve my fitness goals.

First Things First

So I don’t think it’s a secret that a lot of football players (especially the dudes in the trenches) are just wired a little differently than your Average Joe. You’ve gotta be a little bit insane to voluntarily sign up to commit 40 to 50 hours a week (not including school or work) to a jam packed schedule of workouts, 4:45AM wake-up calls, film sessions, training room work, practices, meetings, yada yada yada, all for the reward of bashing your head into another 300 lb grown-ass man over and over again… but for whatever crazy reason, we did that… And that madness instilled a mindset in us that is different than most. A mindset that allows you to face any challenge and attack it without hesitation. The mindset that allowed you to achieve your goals in football is the same mindset that its going to take to achieve your goals after football. Commitment, self-disciple, and a whole lotta that WORK. Easy as that. And just like in football, you’ve gotta have a game plan.

Game Plan

Through hard work and dedication, I’ve been fortunate enough to drop 70+ lbs (in under 7 months) twice in the last 4 years and the things I can point to that contributed the most to my journey were:

  • Intermittent fasting
  • Working out with purpose
  • Keeping your eyes on the prize

Intermittent Fasting

You’re a former lineman. You love to eat. I get it. But believe me when I tell you that even though it sounds pretty intimidating, intermittent fasting is going to be your best friend in this whole process. In fact, if you do it right, you can still eat a lot of your favorite not-so-healthy foods somewhat regularly.

Contrary to popular belief, the entire idea behind intermittent fasting is NOT to starve yourself. With intermittent fasting, you’re still supposed to take in the same amount of calories you would normally, but instead of taking in those calories through the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner, you instead give yourself a 4-8 hour window (depending on what you can handle) each day where you scarf down an entire day’s worth of calories. After a few weeks, your body will eventually get used to your new eating pattern and you’ll start to not even get hungry outside of the window that you’ve set for yourself. Not only does intermittent fasting offer weight-loss benefits, but there are also cognitive and cell restoration benefits that come along with fasting regimens as your body enters into a state of ketosis.

As great as the benefits of intermittent fasting can be, it is definitely something that you shouldn’t jump into without doing your research first and making sure it’s the right weight loss method for you. Below are a few links to videos and podcasts to help you begin your research and better understand exactly how intermittent fasting works.

Working Out with Purpose

So obviously, throughout this process, your workout regimen is going to need to be pretty gnarly if you want to see real results fast. It’s crucial that you’re able to hold yourself accountable to not only get in the gym everyday, but also to work your ass off while you’re there! You don’t have your coaches to yell at you anymore, no more teammates to hype you up when you’re not feeling it, no real consequences for skipping a workout. IT’S 100% ON YOU NOW!

So now that you’re in the gym, you’ve gotta figure out how to transition from the year-round swoll-sesh that is lineman workouts into a workout that’ll get you slim and trim. I get asked all the time what my workout routine is and the answer varies but the one thing that is always a constant is CARDIO! I know… as a big guy, cardio is your worst nightmare and rightfully so! Even when you drop the weight, cardio still sucks but like I said before, you’ve gotta embrace the challenge! If it was easy to drop 85 lbs, everybody would do it!

While I 100% encourage you to attack the gym, it’s important to make sure you’re smart about your cardio and that you don’t try to do too much too fast! You can definitely put yourself in some sketchy situations if you’re going all out too early in the process. Nobody wants to be the guy that passes out at the gym because he was hitting the elliptical too hard so make sure you know your limitations, but cardio definitely needs to be the focal point of your workouts. Everything else is supplementary. You’ve been big as hell your whole damn life, you don’t need to lift anymore! Go ahead and hop on that treadmill big fella!

#NipSlip

As many big guys do, I’ve always had some pretty serious knee issues and I know jogging isn’t too easy on the ol’ joints, especially when you’re pushing 300 pounds. I’ve found that the stationary bike is a great alternative to the treadmill and a much more comfortable place to knock-out a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) session. I bike at least one hour (22-25 miles) on the stationary bike 5 to 6 times a week, alternating between 30-second and 90-second working sets with 30-second resting sets in between. It’s the worst thing in the world for the first few weeks but it’s a freakin’ game changer once you start getting comfortable with higher-intensity cardio! Find some good thermogenic pre-workout, search for a good playlist, and get crackin’ on that thing!

Example of how to do a HIIT workout on a stationary bike: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh8VswzWDow

Shoutout Brio Fitness ????????????

The first month or so of  daily cardio is gonna be killer on your lungs and your legs. Your heart is going to be beating through your chest. You’ll probably be the sweatiest guy in the gym and I promise it won’t be a pretty sight. But as you gradually start to shred more and more, you’re gonna realize how worth it it was and be stoked that you did it!

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Just like chasing any other goal in life, its super important to be able to see the big picture and remember what you’re working towards. The biggest challenge you’ll face in this whole process will be the mental battle you’re going to be fighting with yourself to keep pushing your limits. It’s key that you don’t let yourself get discouraged or lose sight of your goals if you aren’t seeing the results that you want right away! Keeping the right mentality can make ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

You’re not gonna lose 10 lbs in a week and you might not even lose 5 lbs in a week, but you’ve always got to remember to keep a level head, put your head down, and keep on grinding! You’ll only get out what you put into your workouts and dieting, so if you give a shitty effort, you’re bound to get shitty results. At the end of the day, nobody else can want it for you. If you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen! No excuses.

I hope this helps you in your journey! Good luck, be smart, and get after it!