Minnesota Gophers

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Gopher shortstop leads team in runs, hits, doubles, triples and home runs




The leadoff hitter in baseball is mainly expected to be speedy and a regular on-base player. After her last home game of the season, we asked U of M shortstop Tyler Walker, who bats leadoff for the Gophers, if there is a similar expectation in college softball. “I think it’s different only because the dynamics of the game is different,” she briefly explained. “You use the same approach [as in baseball] — you want to get on base to start the game and get things going.”

Down a run at the U of M’s May 5 home finale, Walker led off the seventh inning. “I think my approach was to hit the ball hard, make contact, and I will find a hole,” she recalled. Continue Reading →

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Final 4 memories




As this year’s NCAA tournaments crown new men’s and women’s national champions, this reporter took a stroll down my own memory lanes. I didn’t begin watching college hoops until the mid-to-late 1960s – I sneaked downstairs and watched the UCLA-Houston game played in the Astrodome on television – it was past my bedtime.  As a result, I watched Lew Alcindor (UCLA 1967-69) but not Bobby Joe Hill of Texas Western (1966), the first national champion with five Black starters. The UCLA great — now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, guards Earvin Johnson (Michigan State 1978-79) and Mateen Cleaves (Michigan State 1998-2000); and forwards Keith Wilkes (UCLA 1972-74) and David Thompson (North Carolina State 1974) are my personal five-player, all-time great tournament team. Georgetown (1983-84) always will be my all-time championship team simply because the Hoyas were the first men’s national champs coached by a Black man.  The UCLA squads (1966-69; 1971-73), N.C. State (1973-74), Indiana (1975-76), Michigan State (1978-79) and UNLV (1989-91) ranks just right behind them. If I had to choose the most memorable historic moment, although I didn’t witness it, it would naturally be Texas Western’s 1966 title win. Continue Reading →

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Another View Extra — Coaching Gopher basketball a career killer




By Charles Hallman


Only two coaches in Minnesota men’s basketball history have ever led teams to a national championship: Clem Haskins won two NIT crowns in the 1990s, and Tubby Smith won the 1998 NCAA title at Kentucky. Both Black men have the most 20-win seasons: seven for Haskins and five for Smith. However, both men also have the dubious honor to have been fired at Minnesota. Despite a 511-226 career record in 22 seasons, Smith unfortunately is a victim of college sports’ “What have you done for me lately?” philosophy. “When you let a guy go with the character and the skill of Tubby Smith, you better have an idea of somebody who can turn things around, and I don’t know of any of the elite coaches [seeking the Gophers job],” says Washington, D.C. radio host Mark Gray.  “I don’t know what direction they are going, but you are trading a sense of value when you disrespect a guy who’s a Hall of Fame-caliber coach.”

Minnesota AD Norwood Teague thinks that the next coach will have an easier time than Smith did selling the idea to blue-chippers that playing in a “classic” Williams Arena, a place that only looks good when it’s full of people, is an urban hoopster’s dream. Continue Reading →

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Tubby Smith relieved of coaching duties at Minnesota


University of Minnesota Director of Athletics Norwood Teague announced today that head basketball coach Tubby Smith has been relieved of his coaching duties, effective immediately. A national search for the 17th men’s head basketball coach in the history of the Golden Gopher program is ongoing. “Tubby has had a long and distinguished career and we feel it’s time for a fresh set of eyes for our student-athletes and our program in general,” Teague said. “We are grateful to Tubby and his entire staff for their hard work and dedication to this University, our students and the entire Minnesota community. We wish Tubby, Donna and the entire staff well.”

Smith compiled a record of 124-81 (.610) in his six seasons at the helm in Gold Country and led the program to five postseason berths. Continue Reading →

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Gopher senior leaves the team like she played: with a big smile




Her coach and this reporter both watched Leah Cotton’s growth over her four years at Minnesota from a happy-go-lucky freshman to a fully confident young woman in her senior year. “It’s fun to watch her grow as a person, and it’s been really rewarding to see where she’s come from,” noted Gopher Coach Pam Borton last week. It wasn’t always pretty watching Cotton, however — she had a penchant for making silly fouls. She sometimes got her foot stuck on her energy accelerator. Yet you never saw the 5-8 senior guard from Kansas City, Kansas back down from her challenges. Continue Reading →

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U of M assistant coach helps guards transition to college play



The main teaching point Saul Smith stresses to the Minnesota Gophers basketball guards he works with is tempo. “As a former point guard, I think tempo is going to be crucial to any player. “[Controlling] tempo — whether that’s faster or slow, whatever you play — you are going to be more successful. This is what we preach to our guys,” says Smith, the sixth-year assistant coach who helps develop the team guards. Does the fact that he once played guard in college help? Continue Reading →

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Twitter accounts pose new challenges for college athletes

A new study has found that college student-athletes use Twitter to stay in contact with family and friends, but it also allows fans to be overly negative toward the players. “The Positives and Negatives of Twitter: Exploring How Student Athletes Use Twitter and Respond to Critical Tweets” by Clemson Assistant Communication Studies Professor Jimmy Sanderson and Baylor Assistant Communication Professor Blair Browning, is based on interviews with 20 NCAA athletes. The co-authors also reported that players often get post-game comments that are “critical or even abusive…both performance-wise and personally.” Browning calls such tweets “modern…hate mail.”

The MSR recently asked four University of Minnesota student athletes about their Twitter use:

Junior Maverick Ahanmisi says he occasionally uses it to post pictures “or maybe when I have something that’s really on my mind, then I will use it. I really don’t use it that much.”

“I just got a Twitter account a few months ago, and I’m on it very rarely,” admits senior Leah Cotton. “I use it, but not that often,” adds senior Andre Ingram. Continue Reading →

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Minnesota suits Puerto Rican native just fine, weather and all


It’s been almost a year since Daly Santana’s first-ever experience of Minnesota. “It was real cold,” she quickly recalled of her visit here last December. The cold weather didn’t discourage the Puerto Rico native from signing with the Gophers. “Still, I knew this was the place I had to be. I just love it,” says the 6-1 Santana, who is the U of M volleyball team’s only player of color. Continue Reading →

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For 30 years now, college football has chased the green

Many think it’s time all the workers get their share
It went unnoticed, but last week was the 30th anniversary of college football turning into a big green industry. Green as in $$$. From the early 1950s, the NCAA negotiated college football television deals. Then came the 1980s. The College Football Association was formed by a group of schools and got its own TV deal. Continue Reading →

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Hall of Fame coach took father’s advice, stood up for what’s right



I first met C. Vivian Stringer back in the late 1980s when she was the head coach at Iowa and I was a radio reporter covering the visiting Gophers there. She discussed at length her concerns about Proposition 48, then a new NCAA-passed measure that was controversial because of its perceived impact on incoming Black student-athletes. Stringer’s lengthy and emotional response came after the post-game press conference, and it was just the two of us still in the room. The two of us were together again a couple of weeks ago in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Stringer, now the head coach at Rutgers, was the featured speaker at the SHARP Center seminar on Title IX, and this print reporter was supposedly on vacation. Continue Reading →

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