You are on page 1of 2

Jayme Fraser/Montana Kaimin 1. Coach Robin Selvig talks to his players during a timeout on Feb.

11 during a game against Northern Colorado. The Lady Griz lost the game in overtime, 56-54. Nick Gast/Montana Kaimin 2. Selvig watches a 79-54 win against Sacramento State from the bench Feb. 9 in Dahlberg Arena. Jayme Fraser/Montana Kaimin 3. Coach Selvig massages his forehead during a Feb. 9 game against Sacramento State in Dahlberg Arena. The Lady Griz won the game 79-54. Courtesy of Montana Sports Information 4. Selvig as a senior playing basketball for the University of Montana during the 1973-74 season. Nick Gast/Montana Kaimin 5. Coach Selvig instructs his players during practice in Dahlberg Arena on Thursday afternoon.

elvig is a homegrown Montanan. The dot of a town he hails from is Outlook, a small farming community about 50 miles from the Canadian and North Dakota borders. If a driver blinks when going through this little town, hell miss it. But its where Selvig learned his basketball savvy. During the winters, when there werent many options for activity, the people of Outlook turned to basketball. He came to the big city of Missoula in fall 1970 and played four years with the Montana Grizzlies mens basketball team from 1970-74, earning second-team All Big Sky honors as a senior. He was awarded the John Eaheart Award that season as the teams top defensive player along with the Grizzly Cup, an annual award given to the Department of Athletics best allaround athlete, scholar and person. After graduation Selvig coached at Plentywood High School for three seasons before he applied for the womens head coaching job at the University of Montana. The program was looking for a fresh face to come in and help revitalize a team that had gone 11-27 in its previous two seasons. He took over for Eddy McClure, becoming the third coach for the program since it had begun daylight collegiate level and keeping track of records. Selvig adapted the name Lady Griz in his first season, wanting to differentiate the program from the well-established mens basketball program. He came in ready to help, but it wasnt an easy start. The first couple of games were a lot of fun, Selvig said. I think I know we lost. I know it was on the road at Utah State and Weber. Weber we were down about 35 at the half and I think we lost by about 10 at Utah State. But it was a process. I think we ended up going .500 that year. First couple of games were tough ones. Luckily, Selvig had a player who would play an important part in Lady Griz family history.

oint guard Annette Whitaker was recruited to UM in 1979 from Wenatchee Valley Junior College in Wenatchee, Wash. The program was starting its second year under Selvig. He didnt have a scholarship to offer the sparkplug point guard, but she took the chance to play at UM a place she had fallen in love with. In her first year, Whitaker started and earned the accolade of team captain. During her senior season of 1980-81 she was on Montanas first 20-win team (22-8), and during that same year the Lady Griz won their first regular-season conference championship. Whitaker graduated in 1982 and took a job as the JV womens coach at Montana. After two years coaching JV she took a new title as the first full-time assis,

tant coach for womens basketball at Montana. That was September 1983. Thirty-one years later, Annette Whitaker is now Annette Rocheleau, the longest-tenured assistant coach in NCAA womens Division I basketball history. I actually applied for a few head coaching jobs and didnt get them, Rocheleau said. Then I got married, started a family, and it just seemed I didnt have aspirations to be a head coach anymore. Over the years, Rocheleau has enjoyed helping the small program she was a part of grow into what it is today. Back in her playing days things were different: There were no scholarships, the players swept the floor and set up the shot clocks, and support for the team was hard to find because the community was not immediately on board with womens basketball. Rocheleau estimated the average game crowd at 400 people, compared to the 3,000-plus fans who fill Dahlberg Arena today. She attributes one aspect of the womens success to having local Montanans playing at the University. Whitaker said the media highlight local talent, and the fans thrive on it. She said Selvig makes it fun to follow winners. Hes not a set-in-stone type of coach, Rocheleau said. Hell play to whatever kind of kids he has. It might be a fast-break team, it might be a pressing team, it might be a slowdown, but hes really figured out a way to get the kids to play to their most ability in the role they have. During game play, Selvig is animated on the sidelines with his yelling, arm waving and pacing. Rocheleau said its how he drives his points home, and when players see him giving 130 percent, they want to give just as much. Growing up as a coach and player around Selvig, Rocheleau said she has not seen much change in his coaching style in her 31 years. Defense remains something he takes pride in, which Rocheleau said goes back to his college coaching experiences, a basketball constant he preached to her and past players. She remembers priorities from her playing days such as not turning the ball over, stifling defense, and letting the rest come. Rocheleau said Selvig also tries to coach players up with positive comments and critique, and in his old age, Selvigs tactics are not as hard on the kids. Rocheleau has passed the wisdom she learned on to her players and her current assistant coaches, Shannon Schweyen and Trish Duce. Both are former Lady Griz players, and Schweyen is Montanas only former Kodak All-American. In all her years, Rocheleau has learned a lot about basketball from Selvig. She said its difficult to pinpoint certain examples, but she appreciates how he lets the assistant coaches help out with all the players and admires the off-court relation-

ships he develops with those players. Every kid is different, you know. Theres no black and white. He sees a lot of grey, and he has to treat kids differently, yet he treats them all the same, which is a really interesting knack not a lot of people have. Unless, of course, a player is from Wyoming. Then Selvig might have given her a hard time.

he 2011 Lady Griz MVP was Sheridan, Wyo., native Stephanie Stender. In her five years at Montana she was a shooting guard who helped propel the team to wins, Big Sky Conference titles and NCAA tournaments. One thing she hated was running the M Trail on Mount Sentinel something the coaches seemed to use for torture. Two years ago when Stender was a junior, Selvig told the women he would run it with

them. They didnt doubt h er thought he would beat she didnt let Selvig beat he out of 14 players up to the t This is one of the memo Sheridan where is a scienc School after graduating las Wed go on our road t backpacks, Stender said. DVD player that we wou one had his Kindle, iPod a other one had his wallet an would go out before and b Stender recalled Selvig her home state, Wyoming sense of humor and rem while the players ordered late milkshake. On the flip side, Stende

he could finish, but they nevsome of them. Stender said er, but he was able to beat 10 top. ories Stender carried back to ce teacher at Sheridan High st year from Montana. trips, and hed have all these One bag would be for the uld watch film on. Another and electronics, and then his nd so much candy. I think he buy the store out of candy. making many cracks about g. She said he had a unique membered how at dinner, d water, he ordered a choco-

er knows the intense side of

him fans usually see at games. His yelling, stomping and large gestures even shocked to her mom, who told Stender she though her coach was mean. Half the time you cant even hear him, Stender said. I swear its just a way for him to get his frustration out. He talked to us like his grandkids. He never said anything mean to me, never anything negative, it was just him being really fired up. The shooting guard was an integral part in a memory shared by Selvig and Rocheleau. Last season Montana entered the Big Sky Conference championship tournament seeded fourth after struggling in the first half of the season. The Lady Griz had been 6-4 on the road in Big Sky Conference play but had gone 4-4 in conference play at home. Their first opponent was No. 5 Idaho State, and their 66-53 victory helped the women believe in themselves again and feel motivated, Stender said. Against Idaho State, Stender scored a career-high 18

points, and Montana led by double-digits in the final 26 minutes of play. Northern Colorado would be the next team the Lady Griz faced. In regular-season play, Colorado was the favorite to host the tournament but lost that privilege when Portland State had a season- ending surge. The Bears succeeded because they could out-rebound opponents. But against the Griz, they were only able to get 12 rebounds in the second half versus Montanas 22. Stender once again had a stellar game in Montanas 55-46 victory, earning her first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Their wins had built up to one moment straight out of Hollywood. The Lady Griz were taking on No. 1 Portland State, a team that had beat them up in the past. During the regular season Portland State beat the Griz twice, which gave the Vikings five straight wins against the Griz. Montana held onto a one-point lead at the end of

the first half, but the Vikings came alive in the second half. With eight minutes remaining, the Griz fell behind by six, giving Portland State its biggest lead of the game. The Lady Griz answered by holding Portland State scoreless for the next six minutes and scored 12 straight, giving the Griz a 58-52 lead. The defining moment came when Portland States Eryn Jones fouled on Montanas Kenzie De Boer, calling her to the free-throw line with 5.7 seconds left on the clock. She made them and Montana headed to its 19th NCAA tournament and claimed its 15th BSC championship. The ending conference game was just as clich as it sounds: a dream come true, the icing on the cake, Stender said. Continue to next page

Related Interests