March Madness 2014, basketball edition, is over, but the real madness in college sports is still disgracefully alive. Dr. Richard Lapchick’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport annual NCAA tournament graduation rate study, released last month, shows that White basketball players graduate almost 25 percent more often than Black players at many Division I schools. Last weekend’s four finalists all posted “disparity gap” graduation rates among their Black players. “When you look at the schools participating in the Final Four, and you look at the graduation rates of Black males…it’s a travesty,” noted Black Star Project Executive Director Phillip Jackson in a recent MSR interview. Then there’s the rarely-discussed North Carolina academic scandal. Continue Reading →
While people’s busted tournament brackets dominate this year’s March Madness hoops chat rooms, once again little or nothing has been said about that proverbial 2,000-pound elephant in the room — the continued hypocrisy of college sports. The University of North Carolina was among the 68 men’s teams and 64 women’s teams in this year’s respective NCAA tournament fields. This despite a huge academic scandal that has hovered over Chapel Hill for at least two years now involving the school offering “bogus classes” since the 1990s for mostly basketball and football players. Ohio University Professor David Ridpath told CBSSports.com that the U of M academic scandal in the late 1990s, when class papers were ghostwritten for several basketball players, then considered the worst scandal in sports history, “pales in comparison” to the UNC situation. Remember Minnesota’s 1997 Final Four run and their Big Ten title that year as well? The Gophers’ NIT crown won in 1998? Continue Reading →
Monday’s Minnesota Lynx championship celebration looked more like a bon voyage send-off, especially given that every player soon will leave for off-season overseas jobs. “It’s awesome having our fans out here and be able to say good-bye to them,” said Lynx guard Monica Wright, who heads to South Korea by month’s end.
Added Israel-bound rookie Sugar Rodgers of her first overseas assignment, “I’m going down to take care of a little business, to see my family before I head out.”
“It’s a long off season, and I will miss this group,” noted Maya Moore, who will play again in China. Mounds of confetti became a temporary asphalt blanket on Monday as the procession that carried the 2013 WNBA Champions Lynx moved slowly along Nicollet Avenue, with adoring fans providing escort as they made their way to their downtown Minneapolis basketball home. There, inside, a large crowd impatiently awaited the arrival of the only local pro team that boasts a championship trophy these days. Continue Reading →
Cupcakes — this is the insulting term local media often uses to undervalue, underestimate and margainize the Gophers men’s basketball non-conference opponents each season. Former coach Clem Haskins hated such annual references to his early-season schedule, which included at least one Historically Black College and University (HBCU) school each year. “Not only is it financially beneficial to them [the visiting team gets a guaranteed payout plus a portion of the gate receipts], but it also exposes them to a great city and a great atmosphere and Big Ten basketball,” explains Gopher Coach Tubby Smith on scheduling Tennessee State (TSU) at Williams Arena this Thursday at 7 pm. “That’s what we try to do on a yearly basis.”
Nearly 20 players who played at TSU, including Dick Barnett, Leonard “Truck” Robinson and Anthony Mason, were later drafted and distinguished themselves with long pro careers in the NBA. The late John McLendon, who learned and put into practice the fast break from James Naismith, won over 87 percent of his games as head coach in the 1950s. Continue Reading →
By Charles Hallman
If Bobbie Kelsey has her way, her Final Four consecutive appearance streak will stay intact. Her last four seasons she has sat on the Stanford bench as an assistant coach as the Cardinal women’s team twice played for a national title (2009 and 2010) and twice reached the semifinals (2008 and 2011). However, it’s a long shot that her new team will make it five in a row for Kelsey, who’s in her first season as Wisconsin head women’s basketball coach. She was named the school’s sixth-ever head coach last April, as well as U-W’s first Black female in this position. “Minnesota has a very talented group,” Kelsey told the MSR after her Badgers defeated the host Gophers on January 26. Continue Reading →
By Charles Hallman
ESPN Analysts Carolyn Peck and Kara Lawson recently discussed this season’s women’s college basketball storylines. Here are some of their observations:
1) A breakout year for Britney Griner: “I think the international experience that she
had this off-season definitely helped her,” observed Peck of the 6-8 Baylor junior center. She also sees Griner’s body maturing, “…catching up to what she wants to do” as an offensive player.
“The thing I’ve seen Britney improve on is her aggressiveness and [ability] to handle double teams,” noted Peck, especially the junior’s anticipating the doubles coming at her quicker and passing the ball before they arrive. The Gophers will play nationally ranked Baylor in Williams Arena December 4 as part of the Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge. Continue Reading →