MISSOULA – Bobby Moorehead will be the first to admit that he doesn’t look like a basketball player.
Donning a more old school look with his shorter basketball shorts and headband, Moorehead was at the forefront of plenty of social media jests during the NCAA Tournament when the Grizzlies took on Michigan last March.
But Moorehead embraces it.
“I think it’s kind of funny so I just kind of roll with it,” Moorehead said. “I’m just this guy who gets after it and doesn’t necessarily look like a basketball player but I go out and compete.
He added with a big smile, “I kind of understand it. I’m tall though so that’s the only reason people would know sometimes. It doesn’t bother me at all. I love that people say I don’t look like a basketball player and I think it’s pretty funny. I agree.”
But the Tacoma, Washington, native’s impact on the team isn’t measured in numbers.
Moorehead’s role is more of the dirty work player for the Montana men’s basketball team. Defense and everything that doesn’t show up on stat sheets is tasked to him.
Now a senior, Moorehead gets a chance to reflect on his career at Montana, one where he was thrown into the fire right away. Moorehead became an immediate impact player as a true freshman, carving out a nice role as a reserve and seeing the floor with consistent minutes. That carried over into his sophomore year before he became a full-time starter as a junior.
That didn’t quite come without sacrifice though. During his sophomore year, Moorehead found out the best way for him to get and stay on the court was becoming that player who the offense isn’t run through or score that much every contest.
That’s tough to ask from a guy who averaged 26.5 points per game as a senior in high school.
“That’s probably not what I wanted to do coming in, obviously. Everybody wants to be the guy who gets all of the attention,” Moorehead said. “So coming out of high school, especially my senior year I scored a lot of points. I had that same expectation when I got here that I was going to score a lot of points.
“Then you get here and everybody is just as good as or better than you. I didn’t really guard in high school. Freshman year I shot pretty well, then sophomore year I had this expectation that I was going to score a lot and then I just didn’t shoot very well. So in order to stay on the floor, I had to adapt my game to be able to guard and that’s kind of how I stayed on the floor.”
He added candidly, “Accepting that role was hard but I think we needed it and I think that’s kind of what (former Griz) Fab (Krslovic) did his whole career. He just kind of adapted to being the guy who just grinded on the defensive end and scored when he was open. That’s kind of the role I had to adapt to. I didn’t like it at first but I think that’s what’s best for our team. I love the role now.”
He’s made his mark as a 6-foot-7 player with length who is usually tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best player, most recently doing that against Northern Colorado’s Jordan Davis, who ranked sixth in the country in scoring at 25.2 points when the Bears took on the Griz. Moorehead held Davis to 7 for 20 shooting.
He’s happy to contribute that way. The challenge of guarding one of the opponent’s top threats is something Moorehead accepts and looks forward to as if he was going to score 20 points a game.
“Bob would probably be the guy that kind of exemplifies what that means,” Montana coach Travis DeCuire said of him accepting that role.
Moorehead’s path to becoming a two-year starter for the Griz is interesting considering he never played basketball competitively until his freshman year of high school. For him, his first love was baseball, a sport he played growing up as a center fielder and pitcher and developing into the Mariners’ No. 1 fan. But travel baseball became too expensive, so his mother suggested he give basketball a try.
His freshman year he was on the C team and then jumped to varsity as a sophomore. By his junior year he realized he had a future past high school in basketball, though going to a Division I school seemed like a stretch, with Portland State and Montana offering him late into his senior season. He stopped playing high school baseball after his freshman year.
His biggest drive in life is his faith. A devout Christian, Moorehead said that is his motivation each and every day so he can give his best daily effort.
And then of course, the legend of Headband Bobby.
It’s a simple tale and one that began when his friend, teammate, roommate and fellow senior Michael Oguine bought a headband to wear during a game last season. After Oguine opted not to, Moorehead told his friend to give it to him. Moorehead wore one his junior year of high school and wanted to recreate that.
And from there, the look stuck.
“I just put it on for a game and I went out there and I just kind of felt good,” he said with a laugh. “People started commenting on it all of the time and liked it so I just kept rolling with it.”
Going forward, Moorehead is on track to graduate with a degree in business marketing. He loves Missoula and says he’d be all for sticking around after college is over. But marketing, he admits, isn’t something he’s sure he wants to do later in life. Rather, he’d prefer to own his own business.
Specifically, a coffee shop.
“I just love coffee,” Moorehead said. “I didn’t start drinking it until I got here and then I just started dabbling in different ways of coffee and I love it. Owning my own business is just something I want to do.”
But what regardless of what he chooses to do, his head coach sees the same end result for him.
“He’s committed to success, I think, more than anyone I’ve ever coached,” DeCuire added. “He’ll do whatever the job is. He takes it and owns and makes the most of it which has allowed us to win a lot of games in our program."