UM Sports Trivia

By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN

Wednesday Night the Montana Grizzlies begin their quest for a second Big Sky regular season title when they face Northern Arizona at Flagstaff. The Lumberjacks suffered through a miserable season last year going through much of the season with an interim head coach.  Life has seemed to returned to the Jacks basketball program. Freshman Dewayne Russell is leading the Big Sky in scoring with teammate Gabe Rogers third.

The Grizzlies have some great accomplishments so far in the season. The Griz top the Big Sky in field goal percentage and free throw percentage; Guard Kareem Jamar is in the top 7 in the league in 3 different categories. Montana leads the Big Sky in home attendance with over 3,100 per game.

Thursday Night the Montana Lady Griz will have added incentive as they host Northern Arizona. In the two teams’ regular season finale last March, the Jacks staged a great comeback defeating UM 74-70. The Lumberjacks have in senior Amy Patton a storing candidate for Big Sky player of the year. Patton leads the league in scoring, by a very wide margin, steals and minutes played. Patten is one of four NAU key players who prepped in Tempe Arizona, the home turf of Arizona State.

The Lady Griz are allowing an average of 57 points per game, this weekend’s opponents NAU and Sacramento State each average more than 74 points allowed per game. Only one Lady Griz leads in an individual stats category, but it is an important one. Torry Hill leads the Big Sky in assist to turnover ratio; Hill’s average is 7 assists for each turnover. Sophomore Kellie Cole is tied for third in the league in free throw percentage (tied with former Lady Griz Lexi Nelson now at Eastern Washington.)

On Saturday Sacramento State comes to Missoula and this as the Hornets program on the rise. Last March Sacramento State won its first ever game in a Big Sky Conference defeating Eastern Washington before falling to Idaho State in the semi-finals.  This season’s team is led by veteran stars like Kylie Kuhns and Fantasia Hilliard.

Thursday night the BYU Cougars venture back to San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium for a bowl game. The Poinsettia Bowl with BYU facing San Diego State falls just one day short of the 28th anniversary of the biggest win in BYU history. In 1984 BYU was undefeated and top-ranked when they faced Michigan in the Holiday Bowl.  The Cougars, behind quarterback Robbie Bosco, defeated the Wolverines 24-17 to claim the national title, much to the chagrin of Oklahoma and Washington who felt they deserved the title.

It was 121 years ago Friday (December 21, 1891) that James Naismith taught a group of   college students the rules of his new game basketball. With it being the birthday of the Game it was only fitting that on December 21st 1992 UM choose to formally retire “ 21:” in honor of All-American Shannon Cate who had completed her playing career the previous March. There was a bit of irony in Cate’s number being retired on December 21. In her four seasons as a Lady Griz, Cate and Montana were 0-4 on that date. As a freshman Cate saw her team lose on a last second shot at Washington State, get her only career technical foul in a loss to San Francisco, battle a nasty case of the flu while the Oregon Ducks were beating Montana and finally badly injuring her shoulder early in a loss at Utah. The Lady Griz finally got it right in a December 21 game on the night their former teammate had her numberretired.

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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.