WHITEFISH — Former Montana Western basketball player and assistant coach Colby Blaine impressed in his first year as head coach of the College of Idaho men, leading the Yotes to an NAIA Division II No. 1 ranking for the first time since the 1991-92 season. Blaine and COI capped a record-setting season with a 31-6 record and trip to the NAIA Division II Fab Four. It was the second straight season the Yotes advanced to the national semifinals, with Blaine an assistant coach during the 2017-18 season.
Blaine, who transferred to Montana Western to finish his collegiate career, eventually coaching for two years under former Western coach Steve Keller, was actually a finalist to replace Keller at Western before removing his name to accept the COI position.
Fast forward more than a year, as Blaine prepares for Year 2, consider his boss impressed.
“They did a great job this year finishing in the final four. He’s excited about his recruiting class he has coming in. I think it will be a little different look for us, but his kids are great kids. They work so hard, they’re always nice and respectful,” College of Idaho director of athletics Reagan Rossi told MTN Sports at June’s Frontier Conference meetings. “I’m a (former) basketball coach, so to be able to go back to South Dakota the last two years, and Branson, Mo. the year before that, has been great because you get to spend so much quality time with kids you don’t necessarily get to spend on your campus, which seems a little weird, but they’re fun to be around.
“Colby has done a great job picking up where coach (Scott) Garson left off and keeping the eye on the prize, what’s the important things about being a student-athlete at the College of Idaho, and all the intangibles that come with that. Again timing was very tricky and, yeah, we were probably very close to losing him, but we’re very fortunate to have him there and I think he has a bright future.”
Blaine and the Yotes recently released the 2019-20 schedule, where College of Idaho opens against Montana Western in Butte on Oct. 25 before facing Montana Tech the following evening.