UM Sports Trivia | Week of Dec 29

By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN

For the first time in since Montana entered the Big Sky Conference the Griz and Lady Griz will play a league game on New Year’s Day. The Griz open league play hosting Northern Colorado while the Lady Griz are facing the UNC women in Greeley. Both of the Grizzlies’ opening opponents reached the 2014 Conference tournament semi-finals with the University of North Dakota having reached the finals before losing to Weber State for the finals.

Thursday Night’s game with Northern Colorado will feature the top 3 leaders in field Goal percentage in the Big Sky. Montana’s Martin Bruenig leads the Big Sky in accuracy while Northern Colorado forwards Dominique Lee and Tim Huskisson are second and third.

Bruenig and Jordan Gregory are still in the top 6 in the league in scoring. Bruenig is among the leaders in rebounding and blocked shots, while Gregory is a leader in free throw and 3-point accuracy. Gregory is third in the league in minutes played averaging over 34 minutes a game.

North Dakota has faced two teams that have been nationally ranked playing both Utah and Northern Iowa on the road. By the way, last spring the University of North Dakota became the first active member of the Big Sky to have its hockey team reach the “Frozen Four.”

Saturday afternoon the Lady Griz gets a rematch of last season Big Sky tournament title game as they face defending champs UND. North Dakota is led by the top 2 rebounders in the Big Sky–Mia Loyd and Emily Evers.

Carly Selvig has moved up to third in the most recent national stats in shots blocked and has over a 2-1 average in that category over the second ranked shot blocker in the Big Sky. Montana’s second best shot blocker is guard Kellie Ruble who is 15th in Big Sky stats.

BBQWith the shutdown of the University of Alabama Birmingham football program one tidbit worth noting: on August 30, 2001 the Montana State Bobcats faced the Blazers in Birmingham and the Cats suffered their 17th consecutive loss a streak that had lasted from October of 1999, the cats broke their losing streak the week after facing the UAB Blazers with a win at WeberState.

In this year’s NFL play-offs 16 of the last 22 Super Bowl winning teams are represented in the field. Also 9 of the last 11 Super Bowl runners-up are in the field. Four of the teams in this season play-offs have never won a Super Bowl (Bengals, Cardinals, Lions and Panthers; of that Group only the Detroit Lions have never reached a Super Bowl.)

Good news for Marcus Mariota and his Oregon Ducks, the last 5 seasons the Heisman Trophy winner has helped his team with a bowl game in the post-season. The last Heisman winner to lose in the post-season was Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford in the BCS title game in January of 2009.

As with any year 2014 brought it share of deaths in the sports world. Chuck Noll was something of a consolation prize when the Pittsburgh Steelers hired him in 1969 having been turned down by several big name coaches and yet Noll turned the Steelers into a juggernaut winning four Super Bowls.

If you lose 10,000 games in your coaching career you must not be very smart. Red Klotz put together barnstorming teams back before World War II but after the war barnstorming basketball faded so Klotz combined with Abe Saperstein and Klotz built the Washington Generals franchise and put together the teams that would face the Harlem Globetrotters. You had to be able to be the butt of jokes and pranks every night and keep a smile on your face. Occasionally Klotz Generals would play the Trotters in a regular game and Klotz turned out was a heck of a coach.

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

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.