UM Sports Trivia

By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN

For the first time in nine NCAA appearances the University of Montana Grizzlies have drawn a Big Ten opponent for the opening round of the Mens National tournament. Wisconsin defeated Montana in an Invitational tournament in Hawaii in 1997 as well as in a meeting in 1965 in Madison. The last time Wisconsin faced a Big Sky opponent in the NCAA was Weber State in 2003. Current Griz assistant Freddie Owens was a major player for that Badger team.

Over the years the Big Sky has claimed two wins over Big Ten teams in the NCAA tournament, Idaho defeated Iowa in the Second round of the 1982 tournament and Weber State upset Jud Heathcote’s last Michigan state team in 1995.

While this will be the Grizzlies first trip to Albuquerque for the NCAA tournament the Lady Griz faced Vanderbilt in the first round of the 2008 Women’s tournament. Oddly enough a win Thursday and the Griz could be playing the Vanderbilt men on Saturday.

Two other memories involving Montana and Wisconsin basketball. In March of 1992 the Lady Griz got an 11 seed and went to play Wisconsin on the Badgers home Court. The Lady Griz, led by the 36 points of Shannon Cate, won going away.

Fifty years ago This Month UM Athletic Director Wally Schwenk was looking for a new basketball coach when he was contacted by Wisconsin coach John Erickson suggesting the Badgers’ top assistant Ron Nord. Nord never won a Big Sky basketball title as a coach but was part of Big Sky championships in football and Golf at UM.

#32 Kareem Jamar was on fire from behind the arch in the Grizzlies winning title game against Weber State in the BSC Championship. Photo by PatrickRecord.

For long-time Grizzly basketball fans it was extra special to see Kareem Jamar dominating last week’s Big Sky title game allowing a national audience to see the talented Jamar but in addition it meant something special to see “32” shine for the Griz. As the Griz struggled in the 1970’s and 80’s to get back to the NCAA tournament, they suffered two losses much greater then a ball game. First Alan Nielsen in 1979 and then Herb Jones in 1985 were killed far too young. Both Nielsen and Jones wore “32” while playing for the Griz.

How times have changed in the Big Sky women’s basketball ranks as the four schools represented in Last Friday’s semi-finals had won a grand total of 3 Conference titles. Over the last 10 years 7 of the 9 current Big Sky members have made at least one appearance in the conference tournament championship game, only Eastern Washington and Sacramento State haven’t played for a title.

With the Stanford Women’s PAC-12 championship victory Missoula Big sky star Joselyn Tinkle has now played in 100 wins for the Cardinal since arriving in Palo Alto in the fall of 2009.

Same site, same opponent same results, but 19 years apart. In November of 1993 the top-ranked and undefeated Sentinel Girls completed a perfect season with a win over the Bozeman Hawks at the MSU Field house. This time the Sentinel Girls were the decided underdog but pulled the upset. Coach Karen Deden played in two state title games as a Spartan winning as a junior in 1985 and finishing second in 1986.

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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 costumedmascot.

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.