By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN
For the seventh time the Montana Grizzlies are 4-0 in Big Sky Conference play, four of the previouys six times they have won the league title. This group has a ways to go to match the best start in Big Sky play by a Griz team as the 2012-13 team rolled to 14 consecutive wins to open league play.
One of the big contributors to the Lady Griz success this season is second generation Lady Griz star Haley Vining. Vining is the daughter of Marti Kinzler who helped the Lady Griz win 108 games between 1987-91. Haley leads the Big Sky in Assists to turnover ratio, and is fifth in the league in Assists. Thursday night Vining will be matched up with the player with the second best assists to turnover ratio, Katie Longwell, when the Lady Griz take on Northern Colorado.
In recent years the Lady Griz have have had their troubles against Northern Colorado and North Dakota. Last season the Bears of Northern Colorado won in Missoula in January and held a double digit lead in the Conference title game before Montana charged back to take the title.
In recent years The Fighting Hawks of UND have been among the national leaders in rebounding and while they are not as proficient this year they do have senior Mia Loyd back this season– one of the Big Sky Conference’s career rebounding leaders.
In Greeley on Thursday night the Griz-Bears game will also feature a match-up of the top 2 assist to turnover leaders in the Big sky. Montana Walter Wright is second behind UNC’s Jordan Wilson.
Here’s an impressive stat: since the start of the 2011-12 season the Lady Griz have won 97 games while the Griz have won 96, indicating that both programs are averaging over 20 wins a season.
With their appearance in Monday Night’s College football title game Clemson became only the 14th school to be represented in the game in the 18 year history of the event.
It was 25 years ago this week that Montana hosted Idaho in what was known as Midnight Madness on ESPN (named such since the games began on the sports network at midnight eastern time.) It happened to be the second day of the Persian Gulf War and patriotism and anti-war sentiment were running high. Anti-war protesters staged a “die in” on the court at tipoff. The protesters had their moment and then were dragged off the court and Montana went on to win.
Chris Walterskirchen has been an observer of Montana sports for nearly half a century. A Kalispell native, Chris has worked in various capacities for professional and college sports organization of at various times: ranging from announcing and statistical work to the concessions and even a stint as a costumed mascot.
Chris has academic degrees in communications and elementary education. His style of sports trivia involves more than just who won and who lost, but also focuses on the obscure or human side of sports. In this blog you will learn things like the Grizzly football team has won 210 games over the 19 seasons since they have had Monte as their mascot or that UNLV is the only school that both the Griz and Lady Griz have both faced in the NCAA basketball tournament
When not following sports Chris enjoys taking care of animals of all kinds (a peacock rescue?) and reading to pre-schoolers.