Thus far, Gopher AD Norwood Teague is two-for-two in firing coaches in consecutive years. He fired Pam Borton as the school’s women’s basketball coach, seemingly less than 24 hours after her last game last week. She got the ziggy in less time than Tubby Smith got axed around this same time nearly a year ago. Borton was my fifth coach I covered as the longest tenured Gopher women hoops beat writer, She had her faults — no coach is perfect, and for whatever reason, she couldn’t convince too many local Black females to play for her.
Former Gopher Leah Cotton, who played for Borton (2010-13), recently spoke to the MSR while in town for the team’s Senior Night March 2. Continue Reading →
The National Invitational Tournament (NIT) has a rich storied history dating back to pre-World War II days. The Women’s NIT since 1998 has tradition as well — just not as long as the men’s. However, present-day hoops fans and snobbish media types give both the Rodney Dangerfield treatment:
No respect for either of them. While there are those who only see one tournament, and while the men’s NCAA annually gets marathon King Kong coverage and barely Timberbell-like coverage on the women’s side, this reporter gives four-fold attention to the two bigger tournaments, as well as the NIT and WNIT. Both men and women Gopher squads this week are in their respective NIT sweet 16 — the men play Southern Mississippi Tuesday at Williams Arena, and the women go to South Dakota State on Thursday. Continue Reading →
INDIANAPOLIS — The waiting game is now underway. Minnesota (20-12) is .500 (1-1) thus far this post season. The women’s basketball team will know this Monday whether or not their proverbial “body of work” has earned them their first NCAA at-large berth since 2009. Nearly everyone who the MSR talked to here in Indianapolis last week thinks they have:
“I think Minnesota deserves to be in the NCAA Tournament,” says Nebraska Coach Connie Yori, whose league tourney champion Huskers twice defeated the Gophers this season, including a 13-point win in the Big Ten quarterfinals March 7. “With the strength of our league and their RPI (38), I think they need to be in the NCAA Tournament.”
The Gophers are 7-3 in their last 10 games, including a first-round overtime win after being down 16 points in the second half over Wisconsin. Continue Reading →
Let’s be perfectly clear from the start — this and all subsequent columns are March Madness cliché-free. We won’t be talking about dancing or getting tickets punched here. The Gophers women basketball team plays Thursday in the 2014 Big Ten women’s tournament in Indianapolis — they face 11th-seeded Wisconsin at approximately 8 pm local time. Minnesota (19-11, 8-8 Big Ten) as the sixth seed goes into Indy on a modest two-game winning streak, but more importantly, especially for further post-season considerations, the Gophers have won seven of their last 11 contests. Although the team finished with a positive conference record for the first time since 2009, from now on U of M’s “second season” record must stay above .500. Continue Reading →
I’ve been approached of late by several Gopher women’s basketball fans. I listen attentively but with a non-committal demeanor as they complain about the current head coach. And as much as they’d hoped I would agree with them, thus far I have avoided such traps. Let me be perfectly clear — I don’t advocate for any coaches losing their jobs. It’s so easy for non-coaches, eh, fans to give ziggies from their seats. Continue Reading →
Spotlight on the Gophers 100
By Charles Hallman
There are approximately 100 African American and other student-athletes of color this school year at the University of Minnesota. In an occasional series throughout the 2013-14 school and sports year, the MSR will highlight these players. This week: Freshman center Amanda Zahui B.
After sitting out last season after arriving at the University of Minnesota, one might think homesickness could be a common reoccurrence for Swedish-born Amanda Zahui B. But she says it’s not so: “I’ve been by myself since I was 15. I’m used to being away from my family,” the 6’-5” redshirt freshman center tells us. Despite her Patti Labelle declaration of being on her own, Zahui still misses her family. Continue Reading →
The non-conference portion of a typical college basketball season, especially in Gopherville, is pretty much fool’s gold. This is where the home team’s fans are fooled into thinking such a gaudy win-loss record will translate into a successful conference campaign. Both non-league-winning Gopher squads begin conference play this week — the men on Thursday, the women on Saturday. If the guards don’t handle pressure better than they did in a loss to UCLA last month, or if other players don’t become more consistent offensively, it will be a long Big Ten season for the Minnesota women (now 11-3). “Other people need to step up — we need to find a third scorer on this team,” bemoaned Coach Pam Borton. Continue Reading →