No tournament invitations again this year
“For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.”
— Grantland Rice, White, Dean of American Sports Writers, 1920-1940s
“Tubby Smith’s knack for rebuilding earns him Sporting News Coach of the Year,” a headline three years after being fired as the University of Minnesota’s head basketball coach.
We are ready once again for prepared excuses to explain another bad University of Minnesota (UM) basketball season, especially the men’s program under Coach Richard Pitino, which continues its free fall. This year I purposely remained silent. I wanted to catalogue the excuses by Minnesota‘s White fourth estate.
We were given many fairytales from former athletic director, the disgraced Norwood Teague. He fired Tubby Smith, a very successful coach every place he has been (including at Minnesota: averaging 21 wins per season and five postseason appearances, including three in the NCAA Tournament).
I wrote of Tubby’ success in four previous columns, success not recognized by the Star Tribune nor the UM, due to the still in-vogue practice at the “U” of preferring not to hire African American coaches. See my columns of March 26, 2015, March 27, 2014, April 10, 2013 and April 03, 2013. The April 10, 2013 column lists 20 positive Tubby news stories from across the country.
As the 2016 season came to an end, Coach Pitino made the traditional MN move: blamed the season’s failure on Black players, hence his effort to gain public sympathy for himself by dismissing four African American players within two weeks. It is quite clear that Coach Pitino was over matched when he was hired as head basketball coach at the UM, regardless of his mythical “Pitino DNA.”
The reluctance to showcase Black athletes is also seen in MN women’s basketball, where, despite being the most productive player in program history, Rachel Banham’s talents were not exploited as they should have been, nor was she showered with the attention given Lindsey Whalen. If not for Rachel Banham’s outstanding season, including tying the record for the most points in a single game — 60 — the women’s basketball team would have only had 10 pure victories.
Banham is from Minneapolis. The excuse of the women’s head basketball coach (brought in by the disgraced Norwood Teague): She couldn’t find excellent local basketball talent.
Black athletes are being stripped of scholarships in the men’s program. It appears there will be a new approach over the next couple of years, and that would be to Whiten up the men’s basketball program. Facts are facts. The UM men’s basketball program is in disarray. Its coach is in over his head. A new direction is the order of the day.
I know that there are some who will not be happy with this column. But these facts are real and not myth. Truth must prevail.
It will be interesting, given the decline in attendance, how much longer the University can accept the long-term failures within its basketball programs. As I saw and warned of this (as seen in columns listed above), why didn’t the brilliant minds the White fourth estate?
They continue a long-standing tradition favoring Whitening MN sports teams, pretending when failure occurs in football and basketball that the blame falls on young, Black men and women.
Thank God for the MN Lynx, the most significant Level I sports program in Minnesota. The MN Timberwolves have a bright future, as long as no one screws up by having losing programs due to not developing young players.