March Madness — it’s more than hoops

Gophers on ice go for fourth consecutive title
Gophers on ice go for fourth consecutive title

In the sporting world, March is “cause and effect” time. At no other time on the sports calendar are so many teams affected in such simple either-or terms: Win and advance or lose and go home. It really doesn’t matter what you did a year ago — the Gophers’ men’s basketball team this season has realized this — but rather what you have done in the proverbial “down the stretch” heading into this month.

Brad Frost
Gopher Women’s Hockey Coach Brad Frost

Contrary to popular belief and the male chauvinists and their narrow-minded mainstream media lackeys, March Madness is more than just big-time men’s hoops. This week’s “View” is devoted to that “more” — women’s pucks and hoops. They too are in a maddening state of mind at this time of year.

Gopher hockey women enter fourth quarter

The Minnesota women’s hockey team this weekend will be in North Dakota vying to win its fourth consecutive WCHA Final Faceoff title. If successful, the feat would be unprecedented, the program’s seventh league tournament title and a shoo-in for an NCAA berth.

Gopher Coach Brad Frost, trying not to sound cliquish, told the MSR last weekend that it’s the fourth quarter for his squad, who outscored Minnesota State—Mankato 15-1 in their 2-0 WCHA first-round series win at Ridder Arena.

“We talk about the season in quarters,” Frost explains. “Once the regular season is done, that’s the third quarter, and now we are getting into the fourth quarter of the season.”

Though the nation’s second-ranked team is all but assured an NCAA berth in a couple of weeks, Frost and his players aren’t taking anything for granted. “You have to give out your best on every shift,” notes U of M sophomore forward Dani Cameransi.

“Nothing is ever guaranteed in the playoffs” says Frost. “You almost have to play every game like you are not sure you are going to be playing the next one.”

TV schedule adds to madness

The 2015 five-day Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament starts Wednesday in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The conference’s three Black coaches shared their thoughts during the March 2 pre-tourney teleconference with reporters, including the MSR.

“I think the conference tournament is exciting,” exclaimed Penn State Coach Coquese Washington. “I think all the players and all the teams get fired up for it. I think the fans get fired up for what is sure to be an exciting time.”

“The conference tournament is an opportunity for those who maybe didn’t finish as strong as they wanted to,” admits Wisconsin Coach Bobbie Kelsey. “We have one more guaranteed game; then after that we don’t know. You have to win to keep playing.”

Now with 14 teams, each Big Ten school this season played a first-time 18-game “compressed” non-round-robin league schedule. The MSR asked if it’s time and if it’s possible to return to a balanced schedule.

“I’m not sure how you do that,” responded Washington. “Personally, I’d like to see it go back to 16 regular season games.”

Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer said, “We all know that more often than not television drives everything” when it comes to scheduling games. “It’s crazy getting all these games and getting them over with. For what? I don’t feel that it’s very helpful.”

They don’t call it March Madness for nothing.

Local sistahs shine  

The media named Minnesota sophomore center Amanda Zahui B. the conference Player of the Year. She and Northwestern sophomore forward and Hopkins graduate Nia Coffey are two of nine Black players named Monday on the 10-player All-Big Ten first team.

Gopher forward Shae Kelley made the media all-conference first team, and the coaches’ second team.

Zahui B. was the lone unanimous pick by both coaches and media for this year’s All-Defensive Team, also made up of five sistahs. Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to