From the Big Sky Conference:
OGDEN, UTAH (March 12, 2012) – The University of Montana’s Wayne Tinkle has been selected by his peers as the 2011-12 Big Sky Conference Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year.
Tinkle guided Montana to the Big Sky Conference regular-season title with a 15-1 record, and the Big Sky Championship with an 85-66 victory over Weber State in last week’s title game.
Montana had not won an outright Big Sky regular-season title since 1991-92, and had not tied for the regular-season championship since 1999-2000.
“It is certainly a good feeling for myself and the Grizzly basketball program to get that kind of recognition,’’ Tinkle said. “Like we tell our players, with team success you’re going to enjoy individual success. This would not have happened without the great staff that I am fortunate enough to have, and the players obviously are the ones who get it done on the court.’’
Montana enters the NCAA Tournament on Thursday against Wisconsin riding a school-record 14-game winning streak. Montana’s winning streak is tied for the longest active streak in the nation. The Grizzlies are 25-6 overall. The 25 victories ranks as the third-most in school history. The 15 conference were the most in school history, and tied the all-time conference record.
Tinkle, in his sixth season coaching his alma mater, has compiled an overall record of 116-70. He has led the Grizzlies to three consecutive 20-win seasons, and trips to the NCAA Tournament in two of the past three seasons, along with a trip to the CBI last season.
Tinkle is the first Montana coach to win Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year honors since Blaine Taylor in 1991-92. Stew Morrill won the honor in 1990-91. Taylor is currently the coach at Old Dominion, while Morrill is at Utah State.
This marks just the fifth time a Montana coach has won the honor. Jud Heathcote was named Coach of the Year in 1974-75, and Jim Brandenburg shared the honor with Weber State’s Neil McCarthy in 1977-78.
The Grizzlies had two players – junior guard Will Cherry and sophomore forward/guard Kareem Jamar, named to the All-Conference First Team. Forwards Derek Selvig and Art Stewart were tabbed to the second team. Cherry was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Montana beat Eastern Washington 77-74 in a semifinal game last Tuesday in Missoula, Mont., before topping Weber State to win the school’s eighth Big Sky Championship.
Tinkle played for Montana from 1985-89, earning All-Conference honors three times. He was an assistant at Montana for five seasons before taking over the head position.
Tinkle is assisted by Bill Evans, Freddie Owens and Jono Metzger-Jones. Matt Erickson is the director of basketball operations.
“It has been a special season so far, and we will be able to reflect back in the off-season all of the things that this team has achieved,” Tinkle said. “It is exciting. Certainly we want to try to stay in the moment. We don’t want to just make an appearance at the Big Dance. I guess as you could put it as a metaphor, ‘we want to stay on the dance floor as long as possible.’ We know we have a really tough match-up in Wisconsin – what a great team. But, our guys have been able to accept the challenge in the past, and hopefully we’ll prepare the right way, and they will be ready to go on Thursday.”