Julie Deming's second chance is turning out to be a difference-maker for the Montana Lady Griz.
Last season was supposed to be Deming's final one at Montana, where the 5-foot-10 forward wound up after an all-state career at Westview High School in Portland, Ore. Then she landed on teammate Jill Henkel's foot in September 2002; by January her severely sprained ankle still wouldn't allow her to play.
"It was very frustrating," said the forward, who sat out the season as a redshirt. "It was the first time I'd not been able to play, and had to sit on the bench and cheer."
Her senior season wasn't lost, just delayed. This year Deming is a big reason the Lady Griz are 15-4, and 4-0 in conference play heading into their home game tonight against Sacramento State.
"It's been great having her back, and she's been playing the best basketball of her career," said Robin Selvig, Montana's 26th-year head coach. "She's a pretty complete player. She rebounds, defends, she can score inside, and can shoot the three.
"She's been a huge addition. In fact, she's been better than I thought."
Keeping the faith There was a time when she could've ended up at the University of Maryland, or Oregon, or Oregon State. That's when Montana found the silver lining on a Deming injury for the first time.
An all-around athlete who won Oregon's 4-A state high jump title as a sophomore, she got onto a select basketball team after her junior year. Then she suffered a stress fracture that spring.
"When I came back I was a little rusty, and I didn't play all that great in the tournaments," she said. "I think that's when a lot of schools passed me up.
"Montana kind of stuck with me."
So did Maryland, which plays in the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference.
"I wanted to go there, but it was like my parents were, 'Absolutely not,'" Deming said with a laugh. "And Maryland — their program was struggling, and when I compared the two, here there's a big-time winning tradition. Their attendance is basically the reason I ended up coming here. I like playing in front of people, I like that atmosphere. I had that in high school."
"Brooklyn (Lorenzen, Montana's point guard) and I were in pretty prestigious high school programs in Oregon, where we were always ranked in the top three, and were always playing in front of big crowds. That was a big deal, playing in front of people and having community support. That's a given, with this program."
Staying positive Montana drew a Big Sky-best 2,230 fans per game last year, although Deming didn't get to enjoy those crowds as a player. The Lady Griz went 20-10 without one of their catalysts, and finished a game out of first for the second straight season.
Deming tried to stay upbeat.
"It was really hard at times, but I always wanted to be a good example and not pout or feel sorry for myself in front of people," she said. "I always tried to be the loudest on the bench. But deep down, it's one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through."
It likely made her stronger. Playing pain-free, she's averaging 12.9 points and 5.6 rebounds at small forward this season. The Lady Griz are in position for the Big Sky crown that's eluded them since Deming's freshman year.
"Every year we've been in the running and just come up short," she said. "It's not like we didn't have the talent — it's not like we come into each season without a positive outlook, because you don't have confidence in your teammates. We all trust each other, and we all want to work together."
To that, she added, "There's been one team we've played that's actually better than us — Texas."
Team first Deming backs up that bravado with some stellar stats: She's fifth in the Big Sky in field goal percentage at .442, and would lead in 3-point percentage if she had more attempts (she's 23 for 48, for .479). She also third in steals at 2.32 per game. Not that Deming is conscious of such things.
"Whether it's scoring a couple extra baskets or getting a couple extra steals, it doesn't matter to me," she said. "As long as we win."
"She adds creativity to the offense, and can create her own shot a little bit," said Selvig, who saw her get 11 of her game-high 16 points down the stretch in Montana's 60-44 win at arch-rival MSU last week. "I figured she'd be a good player, but I could be happier with the way she's come back and played. She is the team leader."
For her part, Deming is enjoying every second of it. "It puts things in perspective when you have to sit out," she said. "Some people don't get that second chance, and I really took the second chance as a blessing, and I needed to take advantage of the opportunity."
She is, and the Lady Griz are seeing the difference.
Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/sports/senio ... z2Rni5mZT4
MISSOULA, Mont. -
We have some tragic news out of Vancouver Washington.
UPDATE: Amber Alert cancelled, boy found safe
2 Montana basketball players arrested in Missoula
Griz offense shines in final spring scrimmage
Rendezvous Days tradition carries on in Eureka
Montana Raceway Park hosts Test, Tune, and Tech Day
Former Lady Griz basketball player Julie Deming was reportedly killed in a car wreck over the weekend.
NBC Montana is doing our best to reach the people closest to her and piece together the details of the situation.
We’ve confirmed there was a fatal accident in Vancouver Washington this weekend and police have not yet released the name of the woman killed in that accident, but friends of Julie Deming tell us she was the one killed.
Deming graduated from the University of Montana in 2004 and was a star athlete for the Lady Griz basketball team.
Sunday evening in Missoula former teammates and friends gathered to mourn the loss of a great player they also say was an amazing person.
NBC Montana caught up with Lady Griz basketball coach Robin Selvig who tells us Deming was a good friend and he considered her to be family.
“She was a big part of my life for the four years she played here, we've kept in touch since and she wants to keep in touch because she's hanging on to that Lady Griz,” said Selvig. “She loved it here, she loved the fans, she loved everything about it and it's just a hard thing.”
Friends and Griz fans have been expressing their sadness about the news on social media websites all day. A forum has also been started on the Grizzly fan website, eGriz.com, dedicated to Deming.
Selvig tells us Deming was a hard-working, dedicated athlete that was loved by all of her friends and teammates. He says being the Lady Griz she was, Deming always caught games when the team was traveled to Portland to play.
“She really loved her teammates and she loved being a Lady Griz,” said Selvig. “She really missed being a Lady Griz and that was meaningful to me because when we visited it was ‘remember this and remember that?’”
Sunday afternoon we talked to one Griz fan who told us he always thought Deming was a top notch athlete. Another former schoolmate told us he knows she will be greatly missed.
Deming’s brother called NBC Montana right before our 10 o’clock newscast Sunday night –
He wanted us to share that Julie’s funeral will be at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Portland this Friday at 10 a.m. The address is 19180 Northwest, West Union Road.
He told us the funeral is open to all friends and family.
And we're going to continue to follow this story and bring you the details as we learn more.
Copyright 2013 by KECI, KCFW, KTVM. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
maroonandsilver wrote:I'll always remember her for her final, great game against LaTech. She almost single-handedly pulled off the upset against the Lady Techsters in a packed and screaming Adams FH.
Griz2k wrote:maroonandsilver wrote:I'll always remember her for her final, great game against LaTech. She almost single-handedly pulled off the upset against the Lady Techsters in a packed and screaming Adams FH.
I remember that game vividly. Unbelievable crowd that night watching Julie but the Lady Griz on her back and nearly pull a huge upset. She was awesome! My thoughts and prayers go out to her friends and family.
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