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Montana women's basketball coach Shannon Schweyen, shown instructing her team during the Lady Griz Classic last December, has signed a contract to lead Montana in the 2019-20 season. The Billings native and all-time leading Lady Griz scorer returns a talented, experienced-laden group. 

MISSOULA —  University of Montana women's basketball coach Shannon Schweyen confirmed Thursday she has signed a contract to coach the Lady Griz in the 2019-20 season.

Schweyen said she is looking forward to leading a formidable group that includes six battle-tested guards and five veteran forwards. The team should also get a big boost from incoming freshman forward Jamie Pickens of Helena, who was heavily recruited by NCAA Division I programs.

"Obviously we hate to lose a great player in (forward) Jace (Henderson)," Schweyen said of her starting senior post last winter, "but we're extremely excited about the very talented group we have coming back. It's my first senior class."

Montana has suffered through three injury-riddled seasons under Schweyen. The team finished with a 14-16 mark in 2018-19 and lost in the first round of the Big Sky Conference tournament.

Not only is Schweyen excited about the coming season, her players are as well. That's become obvious since the end of the spring semester.

"Almost every girl is here in town, working out all the time and going to summer school and the weight room and spending time together," Schweyen said. "This group has great chemistry and it's going to be invaluable this coming season."

Montana Athletic Director Kent Haslam said the contract is pending the approval of the Office of Commissioner of Higher Education.

"I'm excited to have Shannon back as Lady Griz head coach," Haslam said. "I'm really excited to see what a healthy, full team can do. I'm looking forward to seeing who she has recruited and what she's getting done for next season."

Bill Speltz

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