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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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Talented Black female coaches await their chance

 

A new U of M Tucker Center report has found that about 75 percent of all collegiate women’s team coaching openings in the last two years has been filled by men. A male coach replaces a male coach in 34 of 66 women’s team vacancies, but in only 10 vacancies does a female replace a female. The report, titled “Head Coaches of Women’s Collegiate Teams,” shows a “historical decline in the percentage of women head coaches in the 40+ years following the passage of Title IX” in 1974, and graded 76 institutions. Only one, Cincinnati, got an A because 80 percent of the school’s women teams are coached by women. Eight schools got B’s, and 27 schools, including Minnesota, got C’s. Continue Reading →

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One Black coach, a few Black players reach NCAA women’s volleyball playoffs

 

 

 

Each of the four teams that played in the NCAA first- and second-round volleyball matches hosted last weekend by the University of Minnesota had at least one player of color: Cheyanne James (Radford), Alexis Austin (Colorado), Victoria Hurtt and Erin Taylor (Iowa State), and two Puerto Rico-born players: Iowa State’s Neira Ortiz Ruiz and the Gophers’ Daly Santana. James was second on her squad in kills — one of a school-record five players receiving all-conference honors. Hurtt thrice led Iowa State with 20-plus kills. Colorado Coach Liz Kritza called the sophomore Austin “team-oriented.”

While seeing a low single-digit number of players of color at a volleyball match, even a post-season match, wasn’t that surprising, discovering that one of the schools was coached by a Black female was a surprise, especially since, unlike the other three schools, her photo was not included in her school’s pre-game notes. Marci Jenkins last weekend completed her sixth season at Radford (Va.) University, which won the Big South conference this year. Continue Reading →

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College hoops still stuck on gender equity, racial diversity

But there appears to be agreement on rule changes 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

College basketball is now off and running.  Here are a couple of the least-discussed story lines:

 

Gender inequity in sports reigns supreme

ESPN next Monday (November 11) will hold its 24 hours of hoops. Once again the four-letter sports network, using three of its umpteen channels, will show only two women’s basketball games among its 18-game marathon coverage that starts at 6 pm Central next Monday and goes through next Tuesday. And although the two women’s games kick off the coverage, it remains a head scratcher that the self-appointed sports leader can’t or won’t find other female programs to show. After all, if ESPN can dedicate three channels to over 24 hours of live hoops, certainly, if they really were committed to women’s sports coverage besides the typical lip service, then what would it hurt to add a fourth channel for it? But when you ask the ESPN brain wizards about this like I did several years ago during a women’s basketball media conference call, they brushed my inquiries off like dandruff on a dark-colored sweater. 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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Conference shuffle the big news for U-M men’s hockey

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Big Ten league promises much — will it deliver?  

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

College sports in recent years have seen conferences either expand or implode both in football and basketball. Now it’s trickled down to men’s hockey. In what organizers called “an unprecedented day of college hockey discussions in the Twin Cities,” last week the two newest men’s hockey conferences held their respective media days September 19. “We’re ready to go in a new season and a new conference,” proclaimed U-M Coach Don Lucia in St. Continue Reading →

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Gophers WBB falls again

 

HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILL. — In a few days, Penn State and several other Big Ten women’s hoop squads will learn where their March playing schedule takes them next. But unlike the regular season champions, the Lady Lions, who are assured their spot, the Gophers aren’t sure of theirs. “We just let the basketball gods figure it out,” admitted U of M Coach Pam Borton last Thursday after her team’s nine-point loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten tourney’s first round as she referred to the NCAA selection committee. “It’s out of our hands,” added Ohio State senior guard Tayler Hill of her Buckeyes’ chances. 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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