HELENA — Carroll College men’s basketball coach Kurt Paulson hasn’t played a Frontier Conference game in 16 years.
But when he did, he was given some good advice.
“Frontier Conference games are just more intense,” said Gary Turcott, who used to coach Paulson. “There is preseason, conference play and tournament play, and you have to increase the level of intensity every time.”
The Saints open up their Frontier Conference season on Tuesday when they host Montana Tech.
With eight true freshmen on the team, Paulson now passes down the same advice.
“The intensity will amp up,” Paulson said. “I remember it being physical.”
Freshman Jonny Hillman grew up in Post Falls, Idaho.
The nearest Frontier school was Lewis-Clark State, two hours away, but over the years he has heard how reputable the competition was.
“I know it is a strong conference that will make us better,” Hillman said.
The Frontier Conference showed how strong it can be after getting three teams into the NAIA National Tournament. Carroll and Lewis-Clark State were two of the Fab Four teams.
But that rivalry renews later in the week.
First, the Saints will host Montana Tech. The Orediggers already knocked off NCAA Division I Montana in Missoula earlier this season and were competitive with Idaho State in Pocatello, Idaho.
“They are going to be tough,” Paulson said. “They are physical and they like to put on pressure defense.”
Freshman guard Dennis Flowers III has never played Montana Tech, but knows that trusting the coaching staff and the game plan given to them will be the key to victory.
Montana Tech features four scorers that are averaging more than 11 points per game, including transfer guard Sindou Diallo.
Growing up in Tacoma, Washington, Diallo spent the last two seasons at Western Texas College where he averaged 10 points per game.
This season he is averaging 20.6 points per game for the Orediggers, including a 35-point performance against Multnomah College.
Rebounding with a win
Carroll snapped a two-game losing streak with a win Saturday over NCAA Division III Whitworth.
With the majority of the team being underclassmen, Paulson has said his team has a long way to go.
But with conference play at the doorstep, Flowers III said a 79-61 a win against the Pirates did a lot heading into this week.
“I think it gave us momentum heading into this game,” Flowers III said. We are just focusing on improving, because we know we have a task ahead of us. These are going to be tougher teams than we have been playing, but I think we are prepared.”
Carroll has controlled the series over the past three seasons, winning eight out of the last 10 meetings.
Carroll sophomore forward Jovan Sljivancanin was selected as the Frontier Conference men’s basketball Player of the Week after averaging 19.5 points, 13 rebounds and 2.5 assists over his last two games.