MISSOULA – Timmy Falls can be described with one word — emotional.
He wears his emotions on his sleeve and fans love it.
Falls, the sophomore guard and sparkplug for the Grizzly men’s basketball team, uses it to his advantage every time he makes a play, whether that be as one of the team’s best defenders or making near-impossible passes look elementary.
As with all emotional players, sometimes they spill over, and according to Falls, that is essentially what led to a two-game absence before he suited up on Monday at Dalberg Arena as Montana defeated the College of Idaho 80-52.
“I just said some stuff I shouldn’t have and just my attitude, I had to take a little break,” Falls said.
Falls missed Montana’s losses to Creighton and Georgia Southern, but returned with a flare on Monday night. He finished with 11 points on 4 for 5 shooting, three assists, three rebounds and three steals.
“I think it was good for me to get back on the court with my teammates,” Falls said. “It was kind of hard to watch the Creighton game from home.
“It gave me a good perspective on what we need to work on as a team. It was hard but it was good for me just to tell some guys, ‘Hey, I saw this, I saw this.’ And it just helps us in the long run.”
Falls’ energy and knack for exciting plays have made him a fan-favorite for the Griz. And oftentimes, he’s his biggest critic. In the final minute with the game sealed, Falls turned the ball over but immediately sprinted back and blocked a layup. He clapped his hands and yelled, frustrated that he’d even turned the ball over at all.
For him, it’s about finding that balance going forward.
“Freshman year, I was a little hot,” Falls said. “I’ve been working on that and getting my attitude right.”
“I don’t know that we ever do (balance it),” Montana coach Travis DeCuire added with a smile. “I think our strengths are our weakness and that’s for everyone, right? When you’re an athlete, it’s always at the extreme end. So when you’re an emotional person, your emotions catch up with you.
“He needed some time to himself to get situated and get healthy and I think he’s in a good place right now.”
The game against the College of Idaho was never in doubt as the Griz jumped to a 19-4 lead in the first eight minutes before heading into halftime up 48-22. Senior Ahmaad Rorie and junior Sayeed Pridgett each led the scoring charge by dropping 17 apiece while senior Bobby Moorehead tallied 14. Pridgett grabbed eight rebounds and Rorie dished seven assists.
“(Tonight was) better defensively,” DeCuire said. “I thought we did a good job of sharing the ball and when the ball moves you get wide-open shots and percentages catch up. But offense hasn’t really been our issue. Our issue has been the defensive end and I thought we did a better job of responding.”
Montana improved to 5-2 with the win while College of Idaho, the No. 2-ranked team in the NAIA, will use the game as an exhibition and remains at 11-1. The win got Montana off of a two-game losing skid.
“The losses do get your attention,” DeCuire said. “No one wants to lose three in a row and practices are tough and the more we lose the tougher practice gets.
“I think we’re back to playing together on both sides (of the ball) and that’s the biggest thing is play together.”
Notes: The Griz shot 57.1 percent (32-56) from the field and 39.1 percent (9-23) from 3-point range, going 8 for 13 in the first half. … Redshirt freshman Kelby Kramer of Rock Springs, Wyoming, made his first career start and finished with two points, six rebounds, three blocks and one steal in 22 minutes. … Montana racked up 10 blocks, with Kramer, senior Michael Oguine and freshman Mack Anderson each getting three with Falls adding one more. … Montana won the overall rebounding battle 38-37 but College of Idaho grabbed 16 offensive boards compared to UM’s seven. … Montana racked up 18 assists compared to COI’s six and forced 16 turnovers. … Montana’s next game is at UC Irvine.