Recent Articles

A sports reporter’s spring notebook cleaning

Marlene Stollings’ second hire on her Gopher women’s basketball coaching staff is Nikita (Niki) Dawkins. She is a 23-year coaching veteran who has been a VCU assistant coach the last two seasons and held similar positions at Old Dominion, Michigan and Ohio State, her alma mater. In a released statement, Stollings called Dawkins, whose duties include recruiting coordinator, “one of the top assistants in the country.” She joins Tiffanie Couts, who Stollings named director of basketball operations. Couts was a grad assistant last season at VCU. The women are the only two Blacks on the staff. Continue Reading →

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Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund, Year X does it again!


Amazing — we’re blessed to recognize that we have been given another day to try and get our lives straight. It really hits you when you look up and realize it’s been 11 years since April 10, 2003, the day Carol Fitzgerald died of breast cancer. This past weekend, the 10th annual Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund (CFMF) celebrated the legacy of Carol’s life with the benefit at the Metropolitan Ballroom Friday night in Golden Valley and the celebration of her life and work Saturday at Martin Luther King Center in Minneapolis. It’s not easy asking people you know and don’t know to trust you and help you with raising money and taking their time to benefit others. But that is what we are about with the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund. Continue Reading →

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Greater diversity unlikely in post-Borton Gopher women’s basketball



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 →

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March madness continues



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 →

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Otaak Band brings East Sudanese soul to the west bank


By Junauda Petrus
Contributing Writer


It was a glimpse into a world nearly lost. But the rituals, the traditions, the passed down legacies and teachings from ancestors were still evident in his being. Ahmed Said Abuamna, from Otaak Band, sang as though the music was shooting up from the ground through him, his voice sounding transcendent of earthliness. Watching the smooth and effortless way in which movements flowed from Abuamna’s limbs and in the way songs poured seemingly unencumbered from his soul at the January 29th performance at the Cedar Cultural Center, became a reminder of the importance of keeping a people’s culture and traditions alive. Otaak Band is the collaboration of Abuamna who hails from Eastern Sudan, and Miguel Merino, a percussionist from Indiana. Continue Reading →

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March Madness begins



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 →

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Gophers rise up, beat Nebraska

The best football in town easily is being played on the campus of the University of Minnesota. I was at TCF Saturday to witness the 54th meeting between the Cornhuskers of Nebraska and the Gophers. After 16 straight losses dating back to 1963, the Gophers rallied from a 10-0 deficit and won their second straight game in the Big Ten 34-23, beating 25th-ranked Nebraska for the first time since 1960. Nebraska travels with a large following,

and it was clear that TCF Stadium had at least 15-20,000 Nebraska fans in the house. The Gophers’ success helped keep the Cornhusker fans quiet. Continue Reading →

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College football games aren’t cheap, either

Last week we looked at the high cost of attending a Vikings game, but is attending college football games significantly cheaper than pro football games? To quote Les McCann and Eddie Harris — compared to what? Using again Team Marketing Report’s Fan Cost Index (FCI), the average cost of a Gopher football game for tickets, food, parking and game souvenirs is around $400, nearly $50 cheaper than a Minnesota Vikings game. “I think we’re one of the lowest ticket prices in the Big Ten,” U of M Deputy Athletics Director David Benedict told the MSR last week. “Based on where we are in relation to our conference peers, we are very affordable because we are on the low end of the scale.”

We examined football single-game ticket prices at all 12 conference schools, as well as Maryland and Rutgers, who both are expected to join the Big Ten in 2014. Continue Reading →

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Top WNBA teams hope to peak in playoffs


By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


The 2013 WNBA Playoffs begin this week: Washington-Atlanta and Indiana-Chicago in the East, and Minnesota-Seattle and Los Angeles-Phoenix in the West in the four best-of-three first-round matchups.  

“When we get into the playoffs, it’s our own destiny,” notes Indiana guard Shavonte Zellous, a member of the 2012 defending champions. The Fever, the only sub-.500 club among the eight playoff teams, has been injury-riddled all season. “We’ve gotten some good wins and some tough losses as well,” explains forward Tamika Catchings. “I think we’ve gotten better from the beginning of the season to now.”


“We are going to make a good run,” predicts Zellous. Continue Reading →

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