Mary Willingham has received death threats from social media users. She’s looked at by some with disdain. All because she decided to step forward and help bring to light what was going on at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). Willingham, then a school’s academic tutor for UNC players, finally let it be known that she was the “unnamed source” for a local reporter’s investigative reporting on the school having set up fake classes, changed grades and awarded worthless degrees for football and basketball players — too many of them were Black — for at least a couple of decades. “I want to do right by them because I was part of the problem,” says Willingham during an MSR phone interview on the “hundreds” of UNC players she worked with during her seven years as a tutor. 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 →
A quick prediction for this year’s NCAAs — Black male basketball players’ graduation rates will remain virtually unchanged. While nearly everyone is filling out their brackets, the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) released on Monday its annual study on the academic performance of the players in the NCAA Division I tournament teams. The study’s primary author, TIDES Director Dr. Richard Lapchick, compares the graduation rate data of Black and White male basketball student-athletes.
“There is not much good news to report as almost every category examined remained the same or got worse,” wrote Lapchick. The women teams’ report was released Tuesday. A more detailed analysis will be in next week’s “Another View” in the MSR print edition. 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 →
With four seconds remaining, Minneapolis Washburn guard JEFF JONES, the state’s Mr. Football, received the inbounds pass, dribbled quickly across half court, and launched a one-handed, running three-point shot that careened successfully off the backboard as the buzzer sounded, giving the Millers a thrilling 73-71 City Conference boys’ basketball victory over first-place North.
Mpls Washburn vs. Mpls North
Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014
The victory, witnessed by a capacity crowd at North, opened up the race for the conference title and confirmed that basketball in Minneapolis is back on the rise. Washburn appeared to be in control, taking a 44-33 lead behind the sharpshooting of EVAN SHEPHERD, who finished with a game-high 24 points and Jones, who added 22. Continue Reading →
Spotlight on the Gophers 100
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 Gopher basketball guard Stabresa McDaniel
Stabresa McDaniel is used to getting “the most attention” as one of six siblings in her family. “I actually like being the youngest,” she admits. “My older siblings say I’m spoiled — I get away with a lot of things.”
Leaving both the Lone Star State and her family hasn’t been as hard as one might expect for the youngest McDaniel. Continue Reading →
As usual, the favorites to contend for the St. Paul City boys’ basketball title are defending champion Johnson and rival St. Paul Central. (By press time, the teams had already met in the first of two contests.) Challenging them are Como Park and Highland Park; also competing are Harding, Humboldt and Washington with some outstanding players in their own right. Since 2004, Johnson, who prior to that had won their only City crown in 1983 (behind the outstanding play of WAYNE ELLIS, MONTE DEBERRY, SCOTT ACKERSON, CHRIS GARRETT, DARRIN CHAPMON, TONY ADKINS and COY NELSON), has owned the conference. Continue Reading →
Is there a connection between playing such sports as football and brain diseases that down the road can produce fatal effects? Medical research indicates that such a connection exists, and athletes and coaches are doing their best to come to terms with the implications. Earlier this fall, Frontline’s League of Denial documentary on PBS in October showed a prominent Black doctor being “blackballed” after he performed an autopsy on a deceased former NFL player’s brain and blamed football for the player’s untimely death at age 50. The two-hour documentary also suggested that the league may have known that playing football could cause permanent brain damage but kept quiet about it. “The brain is the last frontier in medicine,” says Jack Brewer, whose Brewer Sports International group last June held a brain injuries seminar in the Twin Cities. Continue Reading →
While local media types flew to a former Minnesota Timberwolves player in town, asking him once again what it’s like to play against his former team, this reporter opted instead to hang around a native Minneapolis player’s locker. Alan Anderson played his prep ball here, his college ball at Michigan State, and now is in his fifth NBA season with New Jersey. “I’m blessed,” admitted the 6’-6” guard/forward after his 11-point effort in a bad loss to the host Wolves. Anderson signed as a free agent with the Nets in July after one year in Toronto. He logged his “basketball years” in China, Russia, Croatia, Israel and Spain as well as in the NBA Development League. Continue Reading →
This week’s column features a perennial state boys’ basketball power off to a fast start, a former boys’ basketball state champion and top football prospect playing his final collegiate game, and a former boys’ basketball standout who returned home to face the Timberwolves in an NBA game.
St. Paul Johnson off to a fast start
Defending St. Paul City Conference boys’ basketball champion Johnson got off to a fast start in their season opener, defeating visiting Lakeville South 83-60 before a capacity crowd. PIERRE CONWELL, a 6’-3’ forward, led the way with 26 points, including a powerful two-hand dunk. Continue Reading →