BOZEMAN — The curtains fell last week on what was a historic season for Montana State Men’s Basketball after falling to Kansas State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
While it was an emotional ending sending off one of the program’s most influential players in Jubrile Belo, this season rang in what many are now considering the 'Golden Age' of Bobcat basketball.
“First off, really proud of our team," Bobcats head coach Danny Sprinkle stated after their 77-65 loss to Kansas State. "Not only for this game but the season that they had. The adversity they fought through all year and continued to compete.”
Despite starting out Big Sky play sitting just above .500 (7-6) after one of the program’s toughest non-conference schedules in recent memory, Montana State finished the year as conference champions with a 25-10 record marking consecutive 25-win seasons for the first time since 1929.
However, their seven-point win over Northern Arizona in the Big Sky championship also stamped a program first by punching back-to-back tickets to the NCAA Tournament.
“Just judging by the two years, last year and this year, it's been a big difference," junior guard RaeQuan Battle reflected. "I'm just super proud of my team and being able to flip the script from last year to this year.”
Battle flipped the script himself this season going from the Big Sky’s Top Reserve in 2022 to being named the tournament’s MVP.
The junior also garnered first-team honors averaging 17.7 points per game for Montana State.
“As a player that's who I am," Battle added. "I love to attack the defense making sure I find the open gaps and making sure I can get to the hoop.”
While this season brought new faces with the addition of three transfers, the Bobcats now say goodbye to one of the program’s most decorated players in Jubrile Belo.
“It's going to be really hard to coach a game without him," Sprinkle said. "He has been there since day one with me.”
Belo finished his career ranked in six different categories amongst the Bobcat record books:
- #1 Blocked Shots (160)
- #2 Free Throws Made (534)
- #2 Free Throw Attempts (728)
- #4 Rebounds (740)
- #6 Scoring (1609 points)
- #7 Field Goal Percentage (.598)
“He has been the cornerstone of our program," Sprinkle added. "He has impacted our program. He is all over the record books. Back-to-back champion. That goes nowhere near the person he is and the impact he has had on me, on our whole program… I'm excited for his next stage in life too as a professional and then whatever he decides to do in the workplace. He is going to be a tremendous success.”