It's Wednesday night, four days after the first round of the annual clash of the intrastate rivals in Bozeman. I fear missing another recap, I fear being picked last amongst team members for Season 9 (still have to sign up for that) and I fear #TMM8 community shunning me or looking down upon me for all three statements I have listed above. But alas, the show will go on.
At the end of the 2005-2006 season, both UM head coach Larry Krystkowiak, after a two-year stint, and longtime MSU head coach Mick Durham left their programs. Brad Huse and Wayne Tinkle were both assistants under Krstkowiak; Huse had also spent time as a Bobcat assistant under Durham before a highly successful stint at Jamestown College in North Dakota. and Huse became a finalist for the MSU job, then won it. Tinkle was seen as a "hire from within" and was somewhat panned in Grizville (a.k.a. Missoula), people thought Huse should have gotten that job.
Fast-forward to someone right next to me saying Saturday night "It was odd that Huse shook Tinkle's hand then hightailed it out of the handshake line." He sped to the locker room by himself as his team was still going through the line.
Huse, in six seasons, is 79-94, with a 44-47 Big Sky record. Tinkle is 108-70 (after wins Saturday and Monday), fourth on UM's career list, and 61-30 in the Sky. Since they split up, Tinkle has a 8-4 lead over Huse, with Huse's best stretch being a three-game win streak in between what is now two three-game losing streaks. Tinkle, a year older, has the upper hand on Huse, and all of the fans on both sides know it. It's part of MSU's "little brother" syndrome when it comes to Montana; the Griz have beaten the Bobcats in both major sports (basketball, football) to the point of submission. Every once in a while, especially in football and basketball (men's and women's) the last two or three seasons, MSU will get feisty and win one or two (MSU's women's team is 2-0 in Dahlberg Arena, UM's home court, in the past couple trips there, and plays there later this month). For the most part, though, the Bobcats have played with grit and gut and adrenaline against the bigger brother. More often than not, the little brother ends up taking a wild haymaker in an attempted knockout only for UM to grab MSU in a headlock and noogie it into submission.
The Griz used a born-and-bred Montanan and the Bobcats' own specialty to do the noogeying this time. Montana State is relatively proficient in sinking #superhoops. Even with Saturday's performance, the Bobcats have sunk 81-of-206 #superhoops, which is the third most makes in the Big Sky Conference and the fourth-most attempts. Did I mention MSU, which averaged 7.9 per game in conference play before Saturday, went a paltry 2-of-16? I wrote about it in the story I did for my employer, I wrote about it in the postgame blog I just completed (also four days late, I know -- there was a late-night sports journalist conference after the doubleheader, a.k.a. some partying, and Sunday was, well, Super Bowl Sunday. Oh wait, no excuses. Just remorse for being tardy) and I can expand on it more here. Live by the bomb, die by the bomb is a common sportz cliche which hacks like myself use. And we used it plenty on Saturday, especially because Montana hit eight of its own, including back-to-back by 7-foot center Derek Selvig (who looks nothing like Dirk Notwitzki, but has a game that resembles his) to put UM ahead for good after the pesky home team got its fans riled up by engaging in yet another comeback to make it close.
This time, MSU was down 14 with eight-plus minutes to go in the first stanza of the contest and needed everything it could get to march back in. The hosts did, thanks to UM getting called for 21 fouls. MSU was whistled for 18, but the depth of UM is a little less than MSU. Of the 21 fouls the Griz were called for, 17 were on the five starters. One of them, Art Steward, fouled out, while Selvig and starting point guard Will Cherry had four apiece. UM head man Wayne Tinkle had to play mix-and-match with a bench which is not used to playing a combined 56 minutes. There were only six points scored from the bench and 10 rebounds corralled with two assists, two giveaways and two steals, but MSU failed to take advantage of Kareem Jamar, a sophomore shooting guard, playing the point for an extended period of time and the bench players, specifically just-happy-to-be-on-the-floor senior guards Shawn Stockton (Mr. All-NBA Assist Leader John Stockton's nephew) and Jordan Wood, playing many minutes.
That, too, has been a common theme, especially during Huse's tenure. They start hot during conference play, then flip around and finish poorly. Only twice in five years prior has MSU had a .500 or better conference record and only once has the team made the conference semifinals (and championship game). Many think it's a lack of in-season adjustments: from playing a team the first time to the second or even from one trip down the floor to the next. MSU did do some adjusting on Saturday. switching to a 1-3-1 trapping zone that, along with the fouls against UM and the dogged adrenaline fueled aggression the Bobcats began showing when big bro smacked them enough times. The question Bobcat Nation is wondering is when will their team finally be the one to be proactive in making adjustments and taking charge? When will little brother finally grow up?
MONTANA 67, at MONTANA STATE 58 02/04/2012
MONTANA 16-6 (9-1) -- K. Jamar 8-15 1-2 21; M. Ward 3-7 2-6 8; D. Selvig 4-9 4-4 15; A. Steward 3-7 0-0 6; S. Stockton 3-5 0-0 6; W. Cherry 3-8 4-4 11; J. Wood 0-3 0-0 0; K. DeShields 0-2 0-0 0; K. Henderson 0-2 0-0 0; E. Hutchison 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-58 11-16 67. MONTANA STATE 11-11 (6-5) -- R. Singleton 0-1 3-6 3; C. Moon 3-10 0-0 8; T. Johnson 3-8 5-5 11; J. Allou 5-5 5-7 15; X. Johnson-Blount 2-12 0-0 4; S. Reid 3-10 3-5 9; M. Fall 4-6 0-2 8; M. Dison 0-1 0-0 0; J. Budinich 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-53 16-25 58.
Three-point goals: UMT 8-20 (J. Wood 0-2; D. Selvig 3-4; M. Ward 0-1; W. Cherry 1-4; K. Jamar 4-5; A. Steward 0-1; K. Henderson 0-2; K. DeShields 0-1), MTST 2-16 (S. Reid 0-4; X. Johnson-Blount 0-5; C. Moon 2-7); Rebounds: UMT 33 (A. Steward 9), MTST 37 (R. Singleton 7); Assists: UMT 9 (K. Jamar 3), MTST 9 (R. Singleton 4); Total Fouls -- UMT 21, MTST 18; Fouled Out: UMT-A. Steward; MTST-None.