MISSOULA — Montana men's basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak resigned Wednesday to take an assistant coaching job with the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA and assistant Wayne Tinkle was named the new head coach of the Grizzlies.
"Larry has brought respect back to Grizzly basketball and for that we will be forever grateful," said UM athletic director Jim O'Day. "He was passionate in the way he coached for the University of Montana, and that was evidenced in the way our team played."
"We knew that we could only keep Larry so long. He's a very talented individual and will always be sought after," he said.
O'Day predicted that some day Krystkowiak would be a head coach in the NBA, like former Griz coach Mike Montgomery, who is head coach of the Golden State Warriors.
O'Day name Tinkle, a Griz assistant for the past five years, as the team's new head coach.
Tinkle, 40, played for the Grizzlies from 1985-89 and was a three-time all-Big Sky Conference selection.
"We are very fortunate to have someone like Wayne Tinkle waiting in the wings," O'Day said. "For the past several years he's been a stable rock on our staff. As we've gone through some coaching changes, he has been the one constant and we'll give him an opportunity to show his talents."
Tinkle is ranked fifth among Montana's all-time scorers (1,500 points) and fourth in rebounding (836).
Tinkle played professional basketball for 12 seasons, until 2000. He played in the Continental Basketball Association and in Sweden, Spain, Italy and Greece and briefly in the International Basketball League.
He became a UM assistant in 2001 and served under coaches Don Holst (2001-02), Pat Kennedy (2002-04) and Krystkowiak (2004-06).
He was a finalist for the head coaching job after Kennedy resigned.
"I can't express how excited I am to have the opportunity," Tinkle said. "During my playing days we could have picked anywhere to live, and we always came back to Missoula. We love the city and the state, and we wanted to be around the program. To now be able to run the program, along with my staff, is a dream come true.
"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."
O'Day said Krystkowiak is leaving Missoula to join the Bucks mini-camp, which starts Friday.
"This is a dream professional career opportunity for Larry as there are only a few of these jobs in the country," O'Day said. "We respect his decision and know he will always remain a valued member of the Griz family."
Krystkowiak, 41, led Montana to a 42-20 record over the past two seasons, two appearances in the NCAA tournament and a first-round win over Nevada this year.
He interviewed for a job at Pepperdine this spring, but withdrew his name from consideration before the job was offered.
He remains UM's leading scorer and rebounder with 2,017 points and 1,105 rebounds.
He played nine seasons in the NBA — with San Antonio, Milwaukee, Utah, Orlando, Chicago and the Los Angeles Lakers, but his career was hampered by injuries.