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From a field of 68, the top NCAA teams have been winnowed to the Sweet 16 and with the upset defeat of Villanova there will be no repeat champion this season.

Brackets were blown up early and I think even before the field was down to 32 I heard somewhere – probably in a tweet – that just 100 ballots in a huge contest remained perfect.

While I was broadcasting games the NCAA told us they didn’t want us to fill out brackets, which personally I think was offensive since the majority of radio people don’t work for an institution but I guess I got in the habit of not doing it when imo continues

Mik holien back on your radio where for the third consecutive year Gonzaga sometimes slipping made its way into the top 16.

There even still are prognosticators who say the Zags are a Final Four lock and that’s people like Greg Gumble who still doesn’t bother to learn how to pronounce the school’s name.

I guess the pronouncing is difficult because of an eastern high school by the name but pronounced quite different.

There is no gun in Gone and no soft a in Zag not Zaug – how hard can that be. Do they say Villa nava

And the announcers aren’t much better as seasoned vets even get it wrong even though Mark Few has taken the team to the tournament for what 18 years?

So here I was expecting the Irish and a catholic school regional semi final matchup but West Virginia and its talkative coach Bob Huggins had other ideas and quite frankly Notre Dame didn’t deserve to advance.

I thrive on the passion of the tournament and also enjoy season stats that you can disregard once the popular affair is tipped off.

Fan reactions as well as those of player’s parents are consistently impassioned.

But from a guy who says little about officiating, there sure have been some dozzies and many of the Big Sky Conference refs are working games in Salt Lake City and Sacramento.

Some changes are certainly in order for what can be reviewed on video although I wish they would make a decision as quickly as they do during the action.

I love the changing of offenses and more zone, the back door bounce passes, the use of the bucket to shed a defender and the amazing distance of some treys.

It’s inspiring to see Princeton’s offense still being employed and to watch transition hoop on display at its best and I might add at its worse.

But I’d sure like the committee to examine how the No. 7 team from any particular league is better for the tournament than the runner-up in several leagues who are penalized mostly because they are unable or unwilling to secure a tougher schedule.

The tournament crowds immediately get behind the underdog in almost every scenario and it certainly rewards the overachievers who might get a hot hand.

Ever the media critic that I am, some of the descriptive calls have been amazing and the analysis extremely sound.

But the sideline and postgame interviews are for the most part less than inspiring. One doesn’t expect to get much from the coach but most of the player interviews are shallow and show little knowledge not just of hoop in general but in the game we just watched.

But I still hang on every word and can’t imagine when I had a job and missed some of the games how I even was able to function. And what an addition DVR replay is.

My biggest gripe?

It just gets finished so quickly but then again the Boys of Summer take the field in two weeks and I’m relegated to staying up usually after Midnight to see how badly the Mariners bullpen implodes.

Just sayin’


Remembering Charlie

By Mick Holien

Charlie James made his mark on this earth long before publication of Sweetheart Magazine.

But the singles publication that long preceded the current horde to tease romantic or even platonic arrangements was the cherry atop his well lived life that touched so many.

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Early Halloween

By Mick Holien

A plethora of some of the usual Missoula historical characters spun life’s yarns on Sunday as grave sites at the Cemetery sprung to life for a few hours.

The annual Stories and Stones was advanced from near Halloween a few weeks both for the benefit of attendees and actors and weather couldn’t have been more cooperative.

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Precursor to Big Sky Play

By Mick Holien

If stats mean anything the Grizzlies ought to enjoy bringing Savannah State and what has been a porous defense to Washington grizzly stadium.

In losing games initially to Georgia, then up the hill in Boone, N.C. against Appalachian State, the Tiger defense has been anything but efficient.

And last Saturday they surrendered three touchdowns in four plays in the span of five minutes.

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Just Do It

By Mick Holien

It’s one o those things that some families have quite a difficulty dealing with but as we all age it is the most important thing we can do for our heirs.

Maybe like you, I put off formulating a will until recently and even several times took on-line forms and made out my own.

But after hearing stories from others I realized it just wasn’t fair to my family not to have this important item taken care of, just in case you know.

Besides a will your attorney more than likely will advise power of attorney and wishes of what to do medically in the possibility that you can’t make that decision on your own.

It isn’t that expensive (500 or so) and can be completed in a short period and distributed like to your Doc, the hospital, your heirs and of course the copy the lawyer keeps on file.

But it is one of those items I observe we procrastinate about.

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A Last Lake Trip?

By Mick Holien

Are you like me and hoping for even one additional day in the boat on Flathead Lake or have you settled into the opening of fall sports seasons and content to chalk up the summer to one of those rare smoke seasons that left the vessel moored and you and the family itching for some barbecue and maybe even a river day.

From my vantage point south of town yet looking out at the west side of Finley Point, the lake sometimes appears for just a period then is shrouded with drifting smoke only to clear later through the narrows and beyond.

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By Mick Holien

On this day 16 years ago, a day after of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the flight probably headed for Washington D.C., many Grizzly fans were stranded after arriving at various airports after attending the football game on Maui.

After losing to Hawaii, the team flew non-stop charter overnight but most fans, except for a few that accompanied the team, were left to catch later flights, some even in the air when the planes hit, others hooking up with connecting flights which of course was impossible.

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Why Not Play in Missoula

By Mick Holien

It getting more difficult as the year goes by to find non-conference football opponents at the Football Championship Series (FCS) level.

Several traditional opponents over the year, even most recently Liberty who picked off Baylor the opening weekend, have moved or are in the process of moving to the Football Bowl Series.

Of course it’s all about the money because not only does a program enhance their chances to eventually qualify for a bowl themselves nit they also stand to share in the league’s bowl proceeds and when your circuit is qualifying several teams that amounts to a considerable amount of coin compared to the FCS level.

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By Mick Holien

You have to hand it to offensive guru Chris Peterson, the former Boise State mentor who took the Broncos to national prominence and made the argument they had to be included in the Top 25 poll, something voters in the east weren’t easily willing to allow.

There are those coaches who, no matter where they hang their hat, seem to have the formula or maybe surround themselves with the right brilliant people to have success wherever they coach.

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A Must See


I went to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. back in my tournament bowling days but unfortunately that was before the construction of the Viet Nam wall.

And while I feel compelled to leave such a trip near the top of my bucket list, as the years go by it becomes unlikely that is something I will be able to accomplish.

But the next best thing is time spent at the Wall that Heals, a half-sized replica of the real thing that visits Kalispell starting Thursday

I can tell you such a visit is highly therapeutic whether or not you are a veteran or served in that God forsaken war.

266 Montanans were among the 58,267 who lost their loves in Nam, each one honored by a single line on the 250-foot structure.

A flyover at 9:55 a.m. will open the exhibit which comes to Kalispell today from Libby and will remain open, along with a mobile education center, until Sept.10.

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Smoke Gets in your Eyes


I resisted writing about it since I’m not much for negativity or complaining especially about things I can do nothing about.

If you ask me how I’m doing, you’re usually going t5o get an optimistic, positive response.

But damn this smoke.

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All Starkel


The Starkel family of Ronan had more than a passing interest to wait through a horde of college football games Saturday awaiting the key Los Angeles matchup between UCLA and Texas A & M.

You see the young starting quarterback for the Aggies also bears the Starkel moniker, Nick is the son of Maury, a Starkel who isn’t a potato farmer.

And as the “instant classic” game wound down with Starkel sidelined with a third quarter foot injury all one could think is what might have been or will be for that matter.

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Laboring Away


The Fashion Police would have been pleased in Missoula Saturday as not only did University of Montana athletic promotions folks encourage fans to participate in a rite of fall by wearing all white but the Grizzlies also debuted new all-white road unis.

And after a less than stellar first half Montana got the season’s train rollin’ and posted a workman’s-like second half hour to pull away from outmanned Valpariaso 45-23.

So with the ranked Huskies of Washington waiting in the Emerald City Saturday’s ending score appeared about as predicted but the Indiana squad, eventually probably affected by heat and depth, gave no quarter and looked anything but a bottom rung Pioneer League outfit.

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Now is the Time

By Mick Holien

All the anticipation of losing thoughts of a rare losing football season is plenty of motivation for a Grizzly team that looks to dominate a cupcake opener at Washington Grizzly Stadium Saturday.

But while the starting quarterback call goes to a senior who once was highly touted out of the state of Tennessee Reese Phillips is a guy who threw four picks in the spring scrimmage while connecting on 14 of 27 for 140 yards and hasn’t started under center in almost five years.


But for the time being the Kentucky transfer emerged in a battle with Caleb Hill and freshman Gresch Jensen.

Obviously Phillips is the only QB who has taken a Montana snap playing in four games last season with a season high five completions against Mississippi Valley State.

But if he maintains there are no butterflies we know he is sharing the company line. Last year’s experience and scrimmages are nothing like being the guy at the helm but admittedly the bar will be lower than in some seasons.

Maybe as good a baseball player as a gridiron product, Phillips prepped in Chattanooga where he was a two-time all state performer in both sports.

But after winning the state football title as a junior and making the playoffs as a senior when he completed 172 of 274 for 2,274 yards he enjoyed quite a post season being named MVP after hitting 10 for 10 passes in the state’s All-Star game leading his team to a 41-20 verdict.

A converted tight end and defensive back, he was an all-district baseball player as a pitcher and shortstop.

But after redshirting at Kentucky he was relegated to a backup role and although he played in three games as a redshirt freshman he played in just a single game in 2015.

Phillips has a single season of eligibility remaining.

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How can we not be emotionally affected by the images coming out of the Houston area?

One had to know it would be just a matter of time before predictions were accurate that a monster storm, long predicted, would strike land with such force but then the ensuing rainfall that beckons one to think of 40 days and 50 nights.

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One Satisfied Customer


No matter what the dilemma there is always a way to make things right or at the very least improve a poor situation.

And how a scenario is dealt with often determines whether that customer continues to do business with you.

It always is surprising and quite frankly disappointing to see how much a business spend to acquire a customer only to have a poor experience with an actually well meaning employee prompting the loss of business.

But there are better ways to make of poor judgment.

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Worth The Savings


The first of a couple recent interesting encounters I have to share with you to kick off the traditional opening of the college football season.

Both worked to my advantage but not without some head shaking on my part about a sometimes pure lack of common sense but being persistent and polite yet extra inquisitive paid dividends.

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Pete To Repeat

By Mick Holien

It bears repeating or does it? Who do you know that often seems compelled to repeat themselves?

Make up your own mind but my favorite is on CNN and you will recognize him without me writing his name.

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A Miracle

By Mick Holien

Stop me if you’ve heard this but I had a reason why I chose to move to Polson some dozen years ago.

The people are different I often have said much like they were when I relocated to Missoula and from Spokane in the eighties.

But my pal Emma Lommasson, at 105-plus, said what happened to me Friday night just was a miracle – pure and simple – so you decide especially given the circumstances.

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am I eligible?

By Mick Holien


It can’t happen to anyone no matter how well you believe you are versed in the NCAA rules determining eligibility.

And while every time I learn of such indiscretions, I remember how close I came to bringing down the same wrath on this broadcaster and the first 7 footer to play at the University of Montana.

Fortunately we got around it.

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It was a close call

By Mick Holien

It can’t happen to anyone no matter how well you believe you are versed in the NCAA rules determining eligibility.

And while every time I learn of such indiscretions, I remember how close I came to bringing down the same wrath on this broadcaster and the first 7 footer to play at the University of Montana.

Fortunately we got around it.

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