UM Sports Trivia | March 25

By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN

This past weekend the basketball nation discovered Florida Gulf Coast University basketball, but the Montana Lady Griz got a glimpse of the emerging basketball program in November of 2010.  As part of a holiday tournament in Cancun the Lady Griz faced the Eagles and FGCU’s quickness proved too much as the Eagles won 68-52. The Lady Griz have faced 5 teams from the “Sunshine State”, Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Florida and FGCU.

Over the past dozen years the Lady Griz have gone further than Seattle for an NCCAA tournament game just once. In 2008 Montana went to Albuquerque to face Vanderbilt in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

For the ninth time in 10 Grizzly trips to the NCAA tournament the team that eliminated Montana has advanced to the Sweet 16. New Mexico narrowly defeated the Griz in 2010 only to get pounded by Washington in the next round.

The Bulldogs of Montana Western reached the Elite Eight of the NAIA national tournament for the first time in program history. The UMW Bulldogs upset Lee University in the second round but in the round of 8 they fell to SAGU (Southwestern Assembly Of God University) of Texas who went on to narrowly lose the national title game.

In answer to a reader’s question this was the second time the Grizzly “Monty” and “Monte” have been in the same arena. Mike Montgomery (Montana coach 1978-86) was the head coach of the NBA Golden state Warriors when they faced the LA Clippers in Missoula in 2005. While at UM Montgomery had his troubles with Mascots–including a celebrity chicken who didn’t realize which team he was suppose to be cheering for and a giant bear with a large fuax beer bottle.

Syracuse and Indiana meet this weekend almost exactly on the 26th anniversary of their classic battle in the 1987 national title. The Final Four in 1987 was at the Superdome in New Orleans. It was the first Final Four venue to have giant video screens at each end of the court. In the second half of the title game Syracuse players were bothered by watching themselves shooting free throws, so ever since then, even in Dahlberg Arena, the TV Monitor is turned off directly in front of the free throw shooter.

President Obama has his favorites in the NCAA Division I tournament but his predecessor has a family connection at the Division II level. Franklin Peirce University is named in honor of 14th US President Franklin Peirce whose Great-Great-Great-Great Granddaughter was Barbara Peirce better known to the nation as Barbara Bush. Franklin Peirce University Ravens will face the Roadrunners of Metro state of Denver. Also still alive in the D-II tournament, the defending national champions the Vikings of Western Washington

********************

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.