MISSOULA – Life has treated Bobby Moorehead well lately.
On the court with the Montana men’s basketball team, Moorehead is a senior leader for the Grizzlies, who are riding a seven-game winning streak and sport a 17-6 record overall. UM is 10-2 in Big Sky Conference play, good enough for sole possession of first place.
Off the court, life is going even better for Moorehead. Just over two weeks ago, prior to Montana’s 75-68 home victory over Weber State, Moorehead proposed to his girlfriend, Greer Brewer.
And of course, she said yes.
“I didn’t tell anybody, except my family. I just didn’t want it to be a distraction from that game so I told everybody not to post anything, especially her, until after the game,” Moorehead said with a big grin at Tuesday’s practice. “It kept pretty quiet, which was nice and it was fun to celebrate with the guys after the game.”
Moorehead said redshirt senior Jamar Akoh broke the news to the locker room after the game. Moorehead’s teammates tackled him in celebration.
“It’s been fun,” Moorehead added. “I’m kind of more focused on this right now, but she’s doing some of the wedding stuff and figuring it all out, but it is an exciting time of life.
“Just having them to be a part of that is really cool. This time of my life is a fun time to be able to do it and just to have them all around is really cool. Got two wins that day.”
With that engagement in hand, Moorehead and the Grizzlies now welcome a rematch with Weber State on Thursday. Only this time, the show will be in Ogden, Utah.
While the Grizzlies (17-6, 10-2) continue to trend upward with their winning streak, the Wildcats (15-9, 9-4) have weathered a bumpier road. They’ve lost three of their last five games dating back to the first match in Missoula, with losses to Portland State and Southern Utah along the way.
But that doesn’t matter right now. Teams always get up for rivalry games, and the Grizzlies know they’re headed into a hostile environment.
“Tough team to beat. Incredible environment. I think this is the point in the schedule that I looked at and said, ‘This is going to get fun,’” Montana coach Travis DeCuire said. “Just knowing that we were going to have back-to-back games with great crowds and this one right here is going to be just as fun as the ones we’ve already had.”
The Wildcats own the largest average home attendance in the Big Sky Conference at 6,690. This is the first time in two years the Griz have been at the Dee Events Center, so a large crowd is inevitable considering the Grizzlies are atop the conference standings while Weber State is third.
“When I recruit kids to Montana I tell them every game is a rivalry game once you get to conference because that’s how everybody sees it,” DeCuire said.
Montana has won three straight against Weber State, but wins are tough to come by in Ogden. Before winning on March 2, 2017, the Grizzlies had dropped 12 straight regular season games to the Wildcats in Ogden.
However, during that tough stretch of regular season games, UM did top Weber in the 2010 Big Sky Conference championship game which was held in Ogden that year which sent Wayne Tinkle to his first NCAA Tournament appearance as the Grizzly head coach.
“There’s (353) Division I basketball teams in this country. There’s probably 15 to 20 programs and Weber’s one of them,” DeCuire said. “When you have a program as opposed to just a team, you have a level of confidence and consistency and a way about your approach every day that allows you to win games.
“I think Randy Rahe has done a phenomenal job of establishing them as a program.”
The Grizzlies have done a good job of playing some of their best basketball for road games this year, though. Montana has won six out of its last seven road games, including big games against South Dakota State, Northern Colorado and Montana State.
Montana could be without redshirt senior post Jamar Akoh for a second straight game. Akoh fell hard on his knee against Idaho last Thursday and missed Saturday’s contest against Eastern Washington. Akoh scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the Wildcats in the first meeting. DeCuire didn’t have a timetable for Akoh’s return.
“He could be back for Thursday’s game or he could not be back,” DeCuire said. “Right now it’s just get as much information as possible in a timely manner and make the most of it. Hopefully he’s back Thursday but if not we’ll figure it out.”
But DeCuire is preaching next man up to his team as they get ready for another big test with the Wildcats.
“I think we’re starting to play well. It’s kind of the same thing as last year. At a certain point we hit a stride and just didn’t look back,” Moorehead said. “It’s not going to be easy and it’s going to get harder from here. Everybody’s going to continue to bring their best because we’re on top right now and we’re excited for it.”