Team preview: Montana State

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Last year was supposed to be Montana State's big season. Five starters returned, and veteran coach Mick Durham had a proven track record. In the end, it proved to be wishful thinking. Montana State stumbled to 15-15 overall, 7-7 in conference play for fourth, and quickly exited the conference tournament. After 16 years, Durham hung it up.

Montana State looked to its rival Montana for help, hiring top assistant Brad Huse, who also had a proven 184-60 record as a head coach in the small college ranks at Jamestown (North Dakota) College. He also is familiar with MSU, having served as an assistant in Bozeman from 1994-1996. Huse was a fine recruiter for the Grizzlies, and obviously, with the noise the Griz had been making of late, downstate neighbor MSU made a decision: If you can't beat them, hire their assistant.

"It's great to be back on campus," said Huse, a Bobcat assistant from 1994-96, including MSU's 1996 Big Sky Championship season. "I was an assistant here in the mid-'90s, and during that short phase we had a lot of success. We had back-to-back 21-win seasons, and there was great excitement. I know it can be done here. That is what leads me back."

His 2003-04 Jamestown squad spent the regular season ranked No. 1 in the nation in NAIA, and he took one team to the Elite Eight. The three-time DAC-10 Coach of the Year also served as the school's athletic director from 2000-04. A 1989 Montana Tech graduate, Huse earned his bachelor's degree in engineering and spent three years in that profession.

"My wife still tells people she married an engineer," Huse said.