Pam Borton

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Pam Borton discusses her coaching past, her Team Women present, her undetermined future

Except for last year, Pam Borton and I have always had an “exit” interview at season’s end. We resumed our tradition last week, but at a local eatery this time and not in her coaches’ office. “I had 12 great years [as Gopher women’s basketball coach]. Lots of memories. I met a lot of great people, a lot of great staff members and players,” said Borton, who was fired in March after a dozen seasons. 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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Inclusive candidates for Borton’s replacement



The news wasn’t even an hour old before a local daily newspaper posted on their website a list of possible candidates to succeed Pam Borton as Minnesota women’s basketball coach. Not one, however, of the eight current head coaches and six assistant coaches suggested for the position was of color. The Gophers probably hadn’t gotten back in town after last Thursday’s loss at South Dakota State before Minnesota AD Norwood Teague simply inserted the final date on Borton’s “Dear Jane” dismissal letter — the same type letter that former coach Tubby Smith received last year. Every time I saw Teague at a Gopher game during the season, he looked like he was just counting days, hours and minutes before he could zap her out. The former coach had been on shaky ground since last season. 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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NCAA shot still pending for Gophers women (updated)


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 →

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Keep Pam: Firing Gopher women’s basketball coach won’t solve team’s problems

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 →

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Reflections on a magical year for Gopher women’s hoops






Only one time in Gopher women’s basketball history has the team been among the final four teams standing after a long season. A reunion of those players at a recent Gopher’s game provided an opportunity for some pleasant reminiscing. The MSR is the only Twin Cities weekly to consistently cover the Gopher women for at least four decades, beginning with the late Kwame McDonald in the 1970s; then this reporter joined him in the late 1980s. While other local media have totally ignored the program, we always were there. Then came 2004. Continue Reading →

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Coaches, teammates help Texas native adjust to North Country






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 →

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Concussion issue raises safety concerns among many contact sports

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 →

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Upcoming TV show to address media neglect of women’s sports

Almost half of all athletes are women, but not even five percent are shown in this country’s media. This is expected to be discussed in the upcoming U of M Tucker Center-TPT2 co-produced Media Coverage and Female Athletes on Channel 2 this Sunday, December 1, at 7 pm. Tucker Center Associate Director Nicole LaVoi told the MSR during her group’s 20th-year celebration in October that the show features interviews with academic types, coaches, players and the media. Sadly, this longtime women’s sports reporter wasn’t contacted, but if I had been I would have easily pointed to these examples:

Only two women’s games were shown on ESPN’s college basketball 24-hour tip-off live telecasts despite the availability of three of their eight channels for use during that time. Fox Sports North shows every Timberwolves game live and replays them at least twice afterwards but annually only shows six Minnesota Lynx games — with no repeats. Continue Reading →

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