They're not just changing their uniforms. The revamping of the Milwaukee Bucks has hit Missoula, hard. The big Australian tight-wearing #1 pick couldn't turn the team around on his own in his rookie season so they had to go and steal our coach.
Head basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak has resigned to join the Milwaukee Bucks, where he played four years and earlier today signed, of course, a multiyear contract. There will be more griping in this post about how we should have offered more years and more money. Coach K (oh how we loved to call him that) has made his inevitable departure from The Zoo. As AD Jim O'Day said in yesterday's press conference, "We knew we could only keep him so long." Now it's time for the Tinkle Takeover.
After being an assistant for five years and three head coaches, it's finally time for Wayne Tinkle. No one knew for sure when the Takeover would happen, but everyone knew it would. To return to Jim "cliche" O'Day, this from a piece in the Missoulian:
“Wayne has earned his stripes,” UM Athletic Director Jim O'Day said while introducing Tinkle at a press conference at the Adams Center Sky Club. “This is his time to shine.”
Many will doubt Tinks' promise to "not lose any momentum;" I don't. I stand by him as a fellow Cubs fan (another example of his dedication) and a coach who I know has the respect of both the players and the fans.
Tinks' reputation as a leader has even spread as far as the Missoula Police Department. In May, as part of a J270 Reporting class, I did a ride-along with Officer Pat Malone and Griz hoops became the topic of conversation. He mentioned how whenever one of the players got in trouble they'd neglect to mention LK, it'd always be something along the lines of "Man, Tinks is gonna kill us."
Wayne also stands out to me as a great fans' coach. As an assistant he'd walk along the baseline giving high fives to the student section (I'm calling hit right here; now the "Dahlberg Den") every single game. One game, when I forgot a certain piece of apparel he even remarked "Hey, where's your Cubs hat?" I also exchanged emails with him yesterday congratulating him on his promotion and could not have recieved a better response.
Plain and simple, Tinks has the expertise to keep the program rumbling towards the postseason every season. From Tinks himself in Andy Katz's ESPN article (yes, they know we exist):
"I've had a hand in recruiting every player that is on the roster, as well as the incoming players, and that will help with the transition," he said. "Our players are excited about the direction we are heading. I am humbled and proud to pick up the torch, and we're not going to lose any momentum."
Tinks in the Missoulian:
“I think I have a better understanding of what makes 18- to 22-year-olds tick,” Tinkle added. “How to motivate them. X and O-wise, I have a better understanding of the game. The big thing is, in the five years I've been here I've worn a lot of different hats. Coaching is not just about running a team during a game. It's preparing them in the classroom to become better students, to become better people in their community so that when their playing days are over they can succeed."
What does he not have? Respect, knowledge, leadership abilities, dedication; all there. He doesn't have the glamour that was "Coach K." Not yet.