Big Sky ConferenceMontana State Bobcats


'Completely changed the dynamic of our team': John Olmsted's surge key in MSU's return to NCAA tournament

John Olmsted
Posted at 7:40 AM, Mar 20, 2024

DAYTON, Ohio — No. 16 seed Montana State has reached Dayton for its First Four game of the NCAA men's basketball tournament versus fellow 16 seed Grambling State.

Graduate transfer forward John Olmsted has been key in the team's final run to make its third straight tournament appearance.

His playing time drastically increased late in the regular season and into the Big Sky Conference tournament in Boise, Idaho, where he was a key piece in the championship run of winning three games in three days.

"It’s been super special, you know," Olmsted reflected on the final games leading into the March Madness berth. "Senior night through the Big Sky tournament, it’s just crazy that, it still doesn’t feel real (being) Big Sky champs and everything."

Watch MTN Sports' Grace Lawrence reporting from the NCAA tourney in Dayton, Ohio

Grace Lawrence reports from Dayton ahead of Montana State vs. Grambling

Olmsted solidified his dominance on the court in the Bobcats' final game of the regular season, a 76-64 senior night win over Weber State on March 4 on ESPN2. He led the Bobcats in scoring with 15 points, then a career high.

"As he walked off the court at senior night, I said, 'The best is still yet to come,'" Bobcats coach Matt Logie said. "When that’s your senior night, the last game in your home arena, that may sound a little unique to hear, but it certainly came true last week in Boise."

Olmsted’s new career-high 16 points helped the Bobcats take down rival Montana with an 85-70 win for their third-straight Big Sky title, while simultaneously punching their ticket to the NCAA tournament.

"He has completely changed the dynamic of our team here in the last couple weeks with his play and really given us a boost and a lift that has been special to watch," Logie explained.

Olmsted's priority is getting the offense to flow at an efficient pace. His shot, which is normally a show-stopping alley-oop, comes after.

"Coach Logie likes to use me as a hub for the offense, kind of get things going, move the ball from side to side, get into different actions and stuff, so I really just focus on moving the ball, trying to create for others, and then by doing that, that tends to open up me as well," Olmsted said.

MSU plays Grambling State on Wednesday in the First Four, which is actually familiar territory for Olmsted. Before transferring to Montana State, he spent four years playing for Arizona State.

Last year, the Sun Devils beat Nevada 98-73 in the First Four.

"It was a great experience last year, you know," Olmsted said. "Just being in the tournament. Even though it was the First Four, it’s still something you kind of dream of. But, you know, it’s the beginning of Madness, so anything can happen when you go there."

Olmsted has also become a favorite on the basketball side of X (formerly Twitter), with many accounts posting about his surge at the end the regular season into the Big Sky tournament.

Now, the accounts seem even more excited for him to be back in March Madness.

"I’ve seen some stuff about people saying that they were just going to make up random stories about me," he said with a laugh. "I saw one, I think, saying that I was fighting a Komodo dragon, and I won one time. Kind of funny things like that, just makes me laugh. You know, it’s just neat to see, kind of everyone just showing love."

Olmsted and the Bobcats take on Grambling State in the First Four at 4:40 p.m. (MDT) Wednesday. The game will be broadcast on TruTV.