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MISSOULA — The Montana men’s basketball team took its next step in preparation for the 2017-18 season when it started individual workouts on Tuesday.

The individual workouts come between the team’s preseason trip to Costa Rica in August and the official start of practices later this month.

“We’re introducing some concepts defensively and also working on some team offensive concepts in small groups,” Griz coach Travis DeCuire said. “So, for us, we’re doing some team concepts right now. That’s our biggest thing.”

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The coaching staff gets two hours on the court with the players during the individual workout portion of the schedule, DeCuire said. The team was divided into thirds for its first two sessions on Tuesday so that there could be a more targeted focus in implementing those concepts, DeCuire said.

Outside of those two hours, the players also have weight training and conditioning with the strength coach, which they started last week, DeCuire said.

This year is different than DeCuire’s previous three seasons since the team already got in some preparation during the lead-up for the Costa Rica trip. They were allotted up to 10 team practices ahead of that preseason trip, per NCAA rule.

“We spent a lot of time in the spring and the summer on skill development, and then also while preparing for the foreign tour, “DeCuire said. “… Usually in the fall I spend a lot of time on individual development. There might be some areas for guys to improve upon. So it might be 50 percent individual development, 50 percent some skills and some team concepts.

“In terms of the basketball-related portion, it’s the development of team concepts right now.”

The Griz went 1-1 on their Costa Rica trip from Aug. 3-8. They beat a Costa Rica club team and lost to the Laurentian Voyagers, a college team from Sudbury, Ontario.

They’ll officially start practices on Sept. 29, when they’ll have longer times to practices each day. Per NCAA rule, teams can start practicing 42 days before their season opener and will have 42 days to complete 30 practices.

“We’re building concepts for the next two weeks,” DeCuire said. “The week leading into our first practice, we’ll start reviewing the things that we were executing and introduced to the guys in the summer. From the 29th on, we’ll start implementing the rest of our system.”

Montana’s season opener is Nov. 10 at home against Whitworth. The Griz also play a home exhibition game on Nov. 6 against Saskatchewan.

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