Williams Arena

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In memory of three great men

By Charles Hallman
Staff writer

 

We lost three individuals this April; I personally didn’t know each of them, but came close to meeting one of them. Charles Sumner “Chuck” Stone, Jr. died April 6 of congestive heart failure at an assisted-living facility in North Carolina at the age of 89. Born in 1924 in St. Louis, he was a Tuskegee Airman in World War II. Then, instead of attending Harvard — who accepted him, he instead went to and graduated from Wesleyan University in 1948, and later earned his master’s from the University of Chicago. Continue Reading →

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Stollings makes all the right promises

Marlene Stollings last week became the 11th women’s basketball coach in Gopher history and the sixth head coach for the longest running beat reporter of U of M women’s hoops — yours truly. “Thank you for covering [us] for so long,” Stollings said before our one-on-one interview last Tuesday on the Williams Arena floor. Asked about recruiting more Black players, Stollings said, “The best answer I can give you is I’m looking for people that can play and perform at a high level. We will recruit the best, whoever that might be. We will go after them.”

Asked if she will reach out more to local Black high school coaches, the new coach said, “I don’t mind you telling me if there is someone we have not connected with. Continue Reading →

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Gophers AD dodges the diversity question

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I never attend an introductory press conference without my sixth sense, third eye and third ear. Without it, this columnist could not decipher such adjectives as “best” and “right fit” that always are used when a non-Black coach is introduced. The “White” adjectives flowed like maple sap April 8, when Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague introduced new Gopher Women’s Basketball Coach Marlene Stollings at Williams Arena. He proudly told the assembled media,

including the MSR, that Stollings’ hiring is the result of tapping “a very deep and diverse talent pool.”

However, during the Q&A session, when the MSR asked Teague if his “pool” also included Black candidates, it looked like he was mentally scratching his head in search of the right response: “Charles, I don’t want to go too deep into where and who we interviewed,” disclosed Teague. “I’m not sure I can tell you right now. 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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U of M green initiative receives national attention

New energy study forces athletic department to think sustainably smart
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

A new report cites University of Minnesota Athletics “as a leader in sustainability and energy efficiency.” Collegiate Game Changes: How Campus Sport is Going Green, a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Green Sports Alliance and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education points out that over 200 college sports programs, including U-M are prioritizing “green practices” such as holding energy efficiency audits and water conservation upgrades. The NRDC report also used statistics from a University of Arizona survey this year submitted by 148 institutions: 216 collegiate sports departments installed recycling infrastructure in their facilities; 146 have invested in more energy-efficient practices; and 122 uses greener cleaning products. It further stated that the report is “not a comprehensive list of all U.S. collegiate sports sustainability initiatives, nor does it rank sports greening programs.”

Minnesota is one of 10 detailed case studies featured in the report that points out how these sports programs “employing more sustainable techniques to manage their energy, water, waste and purchasing.” The athletics department began providing recycling bins inside on-campus facilities in 1998, and stepped up its sustainability efforts in 2003 as the school began construction of its new football stadium. “We’ve been working hard on all of our sustainability platforms for the last couple of years,” noted Jeff Seifriz, the school’s athletics facilities director last week in a MSR phone interview. As a result, the stadium “has become a catalyst for broader greening efforts across U-M’s athletic facilities” since it opened in 2009, states the NRDC report. 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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Norwood Teague fires Tubby Smith!

Gophers fire a great coach rather than build a great team
 
 

I understand why Tubby Smith was fired after six seasons, 121 wins, 81 losses and three NCAA appearances. After playing the toughest schedule in the nation, he fired up the Minnesota fan base for Gopher hoops. After a 15-1 start and reaching number eight in the polls, expectations went through the roof and became unrealistic. Tubby said this was his best team, and he was right, with wins over nationally ranked Michigan State, Illinois, Memphis and Wisconsin, the incredible court-rushing experience of beating number one Indiana at Williams Arena. His Gophers even beat one of the top five NCAA programs of all-time, UCLA, 83-63, the Pac 12 Champions in the NCAA tournament; and they finished 21-13 after a second-round loss to No.3 Florida. Continue Reading →

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More should be done to honor Kwame McDonald

 

Why is it that we Blacks must often wait for the shortest month each year to be honored, to get our accomplishments recognized, to get our heritage respected? Why do we often have to be half-past dead to finally get our bouquets? It took one Black History Month and nearly half of another before the Minnesota Golden Gophers publicly honored the late Kwame McDonald, who died in October 2011. The belated recognition came Sunday at halftime of the Minnesota-Illinois men’s basketball game. The Gopher women are expected to offer a similar tribute at this Sunday’s Minnesota-Northwestern contest. Continue Reading →

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HBCU Tennessee State plays Gophers here this week

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 →

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