No football game tomorrow means we'll focus on some other sports first. I almost opened with Patrick Reusse and his hooptyball thoughts, but the STrib did a piece on the Gopher women that I wanted to feature first.
- THE STREAK. It hangs over everything the Gopher women do. Dennis Bracken took a look at how the team views the streak and how they handle the pressure it causes. It's a great piece and you need to read the whole thing, but here's a couple of parts that jumped out at me.
On the team bus, once an improbable comeback was safely in the record books, a freshman on the Gophers women’s hockey team quietly approached senior co-captain Bethany Brausen.
"She said, ‘Were you scared?’ Brausen recalled about the Gophers’ needing and getting two goals in the final 2:02 last Saturday at St. Cloud State to secure their 61st consecutive victory. "I told her I wasn’t scared — scared’s not the right word. But we were a little nervous. How can you not be?"
I'm glad the team is open about the pressure. As cool as the streak is, it's not their #1 goal and it's not the thing fans should care about. It's a great story, but if it comes to an end sometime soon it will be a time to salute the team for their accomplishment rather than lament the end of the run.
But hockey is among few sports where one player — a hot goaltender — can drive wins. Baseball, with ace pitchers, is the most similar. Somewhere, sometime, a hockey team is going to run into a goalie having an incredible night, just like baseball teams are going to have to match up against an overpowering pitcher.
This is why I find the streak to be so impressive. Hockey is a game where the little things or an unexpected moment can loom much larger than in other sports. To pull together this kind of a run despite that is extraordinary.
Fans, too, have taken note of the team’s achievement. The average attendance for home games at 3,400-seat Ridder Arena was 838 in 2010-11. The final six home games last season each attracted more than 2,000 fans. This year’s average attendance is 1,928.
Hats off to you Gopher fans. Whenever the streak ends, let's make sure the support continues.
- The streak got some major coverage over the weekend as ESPN featured the women's comeback win over SCSU on Saturday night's SportsCenter. Meant to get a piece up about this earlier but it didn't happen.
Honestly, this is a HUGE deal. ESPN doesn't devote barely any time on SC to pro hockey, so for the women to get a 30 second spot is a big sign of respect. Big enough where I think we can all overlook the multiple factual errors the spot contained (61 wins not 60, game wasn't in Minneapolis, etc).
- Reusse takes a look at DeAndre Mathieu and likes what he sees:
He's the smallest starting player that I've seen in four decades of watching Gophers basketball on a regular basis.
And then you watch him for the first time and find out why Rich Pitino and his staff outdid Ole Miss and other major programs to recruit Mathieu out of Central Arizona, a junior college. This 21-year-old is the super quick point guard required to press and push the pace in Pitino's pressurized system for playing hoops.
The question becomes, will this small man be able to do the same in the Big Ten? I think there's a chance a guy this quick will give fits to the Wisconsins of the world, if not the Michigan States.
Pat also has high praise for Andre Hollins:
Andre Hollins is another player who appears to love the Pitino system. There's no governor on his offense in his junior season: He can shoot from anywhere, without being required to look at the sideline to find out if that was OK.
He made three 3s early, including a no-conscience pull-up over a defender that might have drawn a yelp from the previous administration.
The question becomes, is Hollins the best Gophers' player since Clem Haskins was the coach? I like his all-around game better than Przybilla, Humphries, Grier or Hoffarber, so I'm saying yes.
I probably won't be able to catch a game in person until January, but I'm really looking forward to watching the up-tempo ball in person.
- Down With Goldy previews tomorrow night's game against Richmond.
- Amelia takes a look at the new NCAA foul rules and how they might be affecting the Gophers.
- A really good basketball player named Tyus Jones who is "considering" the U makes his college decision today.
- For those who haven't been to The Barn yet, here's what the new MBB intro video looks like:
- YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD ABOUT OUR FRESHMAN...Freshman live up to the hype by racking up the points, Kloos and Cammarata make the transition to NCAA together, the frosh pucksters are finding early success,
- In case you weren't aware, TDG member gopherguy05 is handling Pride On Ice coverage for Down With Goldy. His recap of ND/preview of Mankato is up. Purple Cow Party ya'll!
- MSU-Mankato has some issues to iron out.
- Here's all the details from this week's Meet the Media.
- Joe C does a nice job summarizing Kill's history of success for any locals who are starting to pay attention. You guys know that stuff. What most of us aren't aware of is exactly what Coach Kill has been up to since he took his leave of absence. Here are the bit I found most notable:
On Oct. 10, Kill announced that he was taking time to treat his epilepsy. He went to a level-four epilepsy treatment center in Grand Rapids, Mich., for a few days and a spent some time at his downtown Minneapolis home, away from the office.
He visited Gophers practice before the team left for the Northwestern game on Oct. 18. That night, his wife, Rebecca, drove him to a hotel about 90 miles outside of Evanston, Ill. Kill surprised the team by showing up at Northwestern, and spent that game mostly watching from the coaching booth.
Kill, 52, has been at every practice since that day. Starting with the Nebraska game on Oct. 26, he was heavily involved in the game-planning and in-game decision making. He's been careful not to steal credit from his assistants, but at the same time, the Gophers are fighting a perception that Kill has faded into the background.
That perception has annoyed me, because it's a lazy one that ignores how much the staff relies on each other and how much Kill has always relied on his staff. The work the assistants have done during this period is fantastic and the steps Kill has taken to improve his condition while remaining involved and committed to the Gophers are laudable. I'm hopeful that the balance they've struck can continue to work as time passes.
- The Daily has a great profile on Gopher legend Bobby Bell:
Shelby High School Principal and Shelby, N.C., native David Allen recalls hearing the "Legend of Bobby Bell."
The story goes that the North Carolina football coach was recruiting in Shelby and saw Bell play, Allen said. The coach called Minnesota and said if Bell didn’t end up being a player, he’d pay for his scholarship.
Allen doesn’t know how much truth there is to the story. But if it’s true, the North Carolina coach had nothing to worry about.
Bell wasn’t just a player at Minnesota. He was an All-American.
Give it a read!
Enough Gopher Links To Make Goldy's Head Spin
Quick look at all the other good stuff happening in Gopher sports...The #16 ranked women's cross country team is ready for the NCAA Midwest Regional...the soccer team earned a berth in the NCAA tournament and face Texas Tech tonight at 7pm...the Women's BB team signed a top local talent and smoked Charlotte...local volleyballer Adriana Nora has become an important piece in a talented Gopher team...Five U wrestlers have moved up a weight class...the latest edition of Ski-U-Mah magazine is out online.
A Sports Focused Smorgasbord
- HOCKEY FIGHT. Bemidji State's women's team got into a brawl over the weekend.
- Ohio State's Aaron Craft does his Rubik's cube wizardry and then signs it for a young fan.
- And last but not least, Bethel football coach Steve Johnson has another chance to win a national Coach of the Year award for his work on and off the field.