Larry Krystkowiak has preached the same message from Day 1, from the first time his Montana basketball team gathered for practice this season: Individual accolades have no place in Missoula.
"We have done this together," said Krystkowiak, "with a lot of synergy."
The first major upset of the NCAA Tournament came from the Big Sky Conference school with an ability to play big in a huge game, a Grizzlies team that knocked out WAC champion Nevada 87-79 in a Minneapolis Regional affair at the Huntsman Center.
So it's official: You can begin throwing Krystkowiak's name into the annual pool of mid-major coaches destined for fancier digs and more zeroes on his paycheck. He has led Montana into the NCAA field in each of his first two seasons as head coach and his 12th-seeded Grizzlies controlled the No. 5 Wolf Pack in surprisingly simple fashion.
Krystkowiak is a Montana alum who played 11 seasons of professional ball -- nine in the NBA -- and who ranks third all-time in scoring and rebounding among Big Sky players. He has taught this current group the importance of sacrificing one's body for the good of an extra possession.
Against the Wolf Pack (27-6), center Andrew Strait and guards Kevin Criswell and Virgil Matthews combined for 58 of Montana's points.
"I don't know how much film they had on us but I would say it had zero affect," said Nevada coach Mark Fox, whose team had enough defensive breakdowns and matchup problems to allow 52 percent shooting. "We have been rock-solid defensively the past couple months and weren't this game. That's why we played from behind the entire time. It was a single-digit game and they must have had 10 layups. That's what decided it."
Here's another reason the Wolf Pack lost: Nevada had just two players -- forwards Marcelus Kemp and Nick Fazekas -- offer numbers. Kemp scored a game-high 34 and Fazekas (playing perhaps his final college game if the junior opts to leave early for the NBA) had 24 points and 12 boards.
Montana will have to play with as much and perhaps even more of a purpose Saturday. Boston College pulled one of those first-round escapes that often propel higher seeded teams deep into the bracket, beating Pacific in double overtime.
Know this: The boys from Missoula will show up.
"I didn't get to see much of the [Boston College] game," said Criswell. "But it gives us a little confidence. We have to sit down and watch film and see what their tendencies are. I knew we weren't getting the respect we probably deserved. From getting a No. 12 seed on Selection Sunday ... I don't think people expected us to have that kind of seed."