UM Sports Trivia | Week of Feb 16

By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN

In March of 1966 Utah and Oregon State met in the West Regional finals for a ticket to the NCAA Final Four, a game Utah won. However Thursday Night’s contest between the Utes and Beavers will have great meaning among Griz fans as it matches two of UM’s top all-time players and two former Griz head coaches that took Montana to 5 NCAA tournaments in a span of 9 seasons. Larry Kryskowiak and Wayne Tinkle spent two seasons knocking heads in practice and both men agreed they faced few players in games tougher than the man they guarded in practice. Tinkle and Krysko combined to score more than 3,500 for Montana and 200 wins as the Grizzly head coach.  The two men and former MSU coach Brad Huse worked together in coaching AAU and hoop festivals teams featuring their sons.

Forty years ago this weekend the Grizzlies swept games with Boise State and Idaho State to secure the program’s first ever Big Sky title and the School’s first trip to the NCAA tournament.

Idaho State coach Bill Evans coached against UM when Travis Decuire was a Grizzly star in the early 1990’s. Evans, coaching at Southern Utah, led the Thunderbirds to wins over Montana in 1991 and 1992 both times giving the Griz their first loss of the season. In addition Evans spent three seasons as a Griz assistant from 2009-2012, and each of those seasons saw the Griz qualify for a post-season tournament.

In this weekend’s Grizzly home stands fans can expect good defense but not a lot of offense as Montana has the eighth best scoring offense in the Big Sky and Idaho State and Weber State are 10th and 11th respectively. The Griz will also have to contend with the two top rebounders in the Big Sky in Weber’s Joel Bolomboy and ISU’s Jeffrey Salurin.

Griz FlagMontana is among the league leaders in assists while the Bengals and Wildcats are 11th and 12th in the league in thatstat.

Among the top 17 scorers in the Big Sky Martin Breunig is the only one without a 3-point field; Breunig is 8th in the Conference in scoring. The Weber State women features guard Regina Okoye who is the Big Sky leader in steals and has been nationally ranked in that category. One thing that may help the Lady Griz is that Weber and ISU will have to more thoroughly prepare with Montana State who suddenly is back in the race for a play-off spot.

New Montana head football coach Bob Stitt is not the first coach in Missoula with that surname. Back in 2006 and 2007 former Arizona wildcats baseball coach Jerry Stitt was the hitting coach of the Missoula Osprey helping the Os win the 2006 Pioneer League title.

Having just celebrated President’s Day we thought a Presidential trivia was in order.  Eight of the past 10 U.S. Presidents were born during the Major League baseball season, only Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were born during the “Off Season”

Growing up in northwest Montana Summer meant two things, baseball and the Bigfork Summer Theatre. Sunday evening it is likely that a gentleman who has a fondness for baseball and the Bigfork Summer Playhouse will be honored at the Academy awards. Long-time Missoula resident J.K. Simmons is a favorite to take home an Oscar for his work in the film “Whiplash.”  Simmons remains a devoted fan of the Detroit Tigers and is a frequent visitor to Ogren Park. Additionally, Simmons cut his acting teeth at Bigfork in summer stock.

Here’s this week’s Grizzly Planner:

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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.