Jordan Sullivan collects two of the program's five postseason awards
Montana vs. San Diego (3/24/14)
Montana vs. Washington State (3/19/14)
Montana vs. Northern Arizona (3/8/14)
Montana vs. Sacramento State (3/6/14)
Montana vs. North Dakota (2/15/14)
He never set out to create a brand, but after 35 years as head coach of the University of Montana women's basketball team, Robin Selvig has done just that. Call it the Lady Griz Way.
Selvig begins his 36th season leading the Lady Griz in 2013-14. Born and raised in Montana and a graduate of the school, Selvig is entering his 41st year at UM this season as either a player or a coach at his alma mater.
The Lady Griz Way begins with loyalty, and the end result is year after year of winning teams.
Selvig started the loyalty trend, staying true to the program he's led to 33 winning seasons, 28 20-win seasons, 23 conference championships and 20 NCAA tournaments, despite drawing the attention of larger programs that have wanted their own version of the Lady Griz Way.
That loyalty has been passed down to Selvig's assistant coaches, who until recently gave the coach the most experienced staff in the nation.
Annette Rocheleau, who played for the Lady Griz on Selvig's second and third teams in 1979-80 and 1980-81, retired following the 2012-13 season after 32 years as Selvig's top assistant. She was the longest-tenured assistant women's basketball coach in the country at the time of her retirement.
Selvig will continue to have longtime assistants Shannon Schweyen and Trish Duce on his staff in 2013-14, both former Lady Griz players who are on their way to matching Rocheleau's tenure.
Schweyen will be in her 22nd year in 2013-14, Duce in her 20th. Schweyen is the seventh-longest active tenured assistant coach in Division I women's basketball. Duce ranks eighth on that list.
That continuity has resulted in a program that is the envy of many. In 35 seasons, Selvig has coached Montana to a record of 798-255, a winning percentage of .758 and an average of more than 22 wins per year.
Selvig enters his 36th season ranked sixth among active Division I coaches in victories (see list below), placing his name among some of the most recognizable in the sport: North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell (908 wins entering the 2013-14 season), Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer (901), Stanford's Tara VanDerveer (894), Connecticut's Geno Auriemma (839) and Georgia's Andy Landers (823).
His 28 20-win seasons is a feat surpassed only by former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt (36), Stringer (32), former Texas coach Jody Conradt (29) and Hatchell (29) in women's Division I history.
Only Summitt and Selvig produced those seasons all at the same school. Only Selvig has done it at his alma mater.
In December 2011 Selvig coached his 1,000th game at Montana, and he enters his 36th season tied with Villanova's Harry Perretta as the longest-tenured Division I coaches at the same school.
The 2013-14 season will be Selvig's 41st year of affiliation with University of Montana athletics. He was a four-year member of the Grizzly basketball team (1970-71 to 1973-74), coached the men's freshman team in 1974-75 and was named UM's women's basketball coach in the summer of 1978, following a three-year stint coaching high school girls' basketball in Plentywood, Mont.
When he was hired in 1978, Selvig inherited a program that had gone 11-27 the two seasons prior to his arrival. His first team (1978-79) finished .500 (13-13), his second team (1979-80) won 19 games and his third team (1980-81) went 22-8 and won the program's first conference championship.
The success has continued with little interruption for over three-plus decades.
Montana's success has been achieved with remarkable consistency and has been accomplished with similar traits year after year: stifling team defense, nationally recognized home crowd support that has resulted in an incredible home-court advantage and remarkable year-in and year-out league performance.
Seven different Montana teams have led the nation in a defensive category. The trend started early in Selvig's career, when his fourth team, in 1981-82, led the country in points allowed (53.3/g). Four more times the Lady Griz would lead the nation in scoring defense. Twice they have ranked first in field goal percentage defense.
In the 25-year history of women's basketball being played in the Big Sky Conference, Montana has led the league in scoring defense 19 times.
Selvig's team was at it again last season, allowing a league-low 55.4 points per game on .354 shooting. It was Selvig's 23rd team to limit its opponents to sub-37-percent shooting and the ninth in the last 12 years to hold its opponents to fewer than 60 points per game.
Prior to Selvig's first year, Montana women's basketball games were attended by an average of fewer than 200 fans. Soon the Lady Griz, who have won with rosters made up primarily of Montana-raised talent, became an attraction that only a handful of programs in the nation can match for consistency.
The Lady Griz have ranked in the top 40 in the nation in home attendance 27 times in the last 28 seasons.
By 1982-83 Montana had cracked the 1,000 mark for average attendance. Just five years later, in 1987-88, the average had increased to 3,119 fans per game, which ranked sixth nationally, and the fans have continued flooding into Dahlberg Arena.
Montana averaged a program-high 5,235 fans per game in 1994-95 and ranked 36th nationally last winter at an average of 3,048.
That support has made Dahlberg Arena one of the toughest places to play in America. Montana has gone 476-61 (.886) in home games under Selvig, with a sparkling 467-55 (.895) record at Dahlberg Arena. Only Tennessee, Connecticut and Louisiana Tech over the years have enjoyed a similar home-court edge.
The Lady Griz have had eight perfect seasons at home under Selvig -- from a 16-0 performance in 1982-83 to a 17-0 record in 2007-08 -- with 10 more seasons with just a single home-court loss.
Montana's success in league play (first the Northwest Women's Basketball League, then the Mountain West Conference and now the Big Sky Conference) under Selvig came about immediately and hasn't slowed down.
He took a team that went 4-19 in league play in 1977 and '78 and turned it into a second-place finisher in the NWBL with his first team in 1978-79.
Selvig's first 20 teams would finish either first or second in their conference. Through his first 35 years, Selvig's teams have had only five seasons when they haven't won a regular-season championship or finished runner-up. In two of those five "off" years, the Lady Griz finished third.
Montana has gone 429-89 in league play under Selvig, a .828 winning percentage.
Grizzly in His Blood
While Selvig is entering his 36th season as coach of the Lady Griz, his association with the University goes back to the fall of 1970, when the Outlook, Mont., native matriculated at UM as a student-athlete.
Selvig was a four-year member of the Grizzly basketball team, earning second-team All-Big Sky honors as a senior. In his final year of competition he was awarded the John Eaheart Award as the team's top defensive player and the Grizzly Cup, an annual award given to the Department of Athletics' best all-around athlete, scholar and person.
Selvig played his final three years for former Griz and Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote. Montana went 19-8 Selvig's senior season, tying for the Big Sky Conference regular-season title with an 11-3 league record.
Selvig graduated in the spring of 1974 with a degree in health and physical education.
After coaching the Montana men's freshman team to a 10-8 record in 1974-75, Selvig took over the girls' basketball program at Plentywood High, where he totaled a 38-24 record over three seasons.
Selvig was hired by UM Director of Athletics Harley Lewis June 6, 1978, taking over a team that had gone 7-13 the previous season under Eddye McClure.
Selvig's first Montana team finished 13-13 and in second place in the NWBL Mountain Division and, in a sign of things to come, led the league in scoring defense.
Montana's modest improvement to .500 in Selvig's first year blossomed into a stretch of success that rivals any team's in the country.
After going 19-10 in 1979-80, Montana went 22-8 in 1980-81 and won the program's first league title. Those years started a string of 19 consecutive winning seasons and 18 straight 20-win seasons.
Montana made its first of 25 national tournament appearances in 1981-82, dropping a 57-52 decision to Wayland Baptist in the opening round of the AIAW national tournament in Berkeley, Calif.
After coaching Montana in the NWBL for four seasons, Selvig and the Lady Griz moved to the Mountain West Conference in 1982-83. Montana dominated that league for six seasons, going 78-6 in conference play, winning five regular-season league titles and four postseason conference championships, and earning four NCAA tournament trips.
In 1982-83 Montana made its first trip to the NCAA tournament, losing at Louisiana-Monroe, 72-53.
In 1983-84 the No. 4 seed Lady Griz had a breakthrough victory when they won their first NCAA tournament game, a 56-47 home-court victory over No. 5 Oregon State.
Starting in 1987-88, Selvig would take Montana to the NCAA tournament 10 of the next 11 seasons.
When the Lady Griz began Big Sky Conference play in 1988-89, the success they had in the NWBL and MWC did not stop. Montana won the first three Big Sky Conference women's basketball titles with perfect 16-0 marks.
The team has gone 318-68 (.824) in Big Sky play, winning 16 regular-season conference titles in the 25-year history of the league.
Selvig has been recognized often for his coaching. He won his first conference coach of the year award after the 1981-82 NWBL season. Nineteen more league accolades have followed, with five Mountain West and 14 Big Sky Conference coach of the year awards, including 2012-13 after leading Montana to a first-place finish and 16-4 league mark.
Selvig has also been named the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) District VII Coach of the Year nine times. Following the 1990-91 season, Selvig was one of three finalists for national coach of the year honors.
He was inducted into the Grizzly Basketball Hall of Fame in February 1983 and the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
An influential member of the Missoula community, Selvig has served as the director of the Montana Special Olympics and as a spokesman for Missoula Youth Homes, and was the chairman of the 2011 Missoula Heart Walk.
A native of Outlook, Mont., Selvig came from a family of eight children. His brother, Doug, and sister, Sandy, were both University of Montana basketball letterwinners.
Selvig and his wife, Janie, have two adult sons. Jeff and his wife Mariana live in Los Angeles. Dan is attending University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.
Winningest active Division I women's basketball coaches (by victories, entering the 2013-14 season)
Selvig's milestone wins
Selvig year-by-year at Montana
# ... AIAW tournament
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