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March 24, 2017


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A Creative Charters fan bus had taken Gene Lindahl and others to Milwaukee for the Gophers opening NCAA Tournament game against Middle Tennessee State earlier this month. On the ride home a passenger near Lindahl wondered out loud what states all the basketball players from the NCAA Tournament teams come from.

Gene Lindahl

“…Nobody took him seriously that anybody would actually be dumb enough to sit and do that (calculate the answer),” Lindahl said with amusement. “I got home and started thinking about it.”

“Hell, I can do that,” Lindahl told himself. “You just go to all the teams’ websites, and copy and paste (names and hometowns).”

Lindahl lives near Faribault and is a retired high school basketball coach. It required eight to 10 hours to come up with the origins of players from not only the 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament, but also the 32 NIT teams. He researched 1,319 players.

Any surprises? “I was surprised that (the state of) Minnesota had as many (players) as they did,” Lindahl said.

There were 31 Minnesotans on various teams, and Minnesota’s total ranked behind only 12 other states. Minnesota finished ahead of neighboring Wisconsin (No. 29 with 14 players) and Iowa (No. 30, 13 players). Minnesota also had more players than more populous states like No. 15 New Jersey (30 players), No. 16 Pennsylvania (29 players) and No. 27 Washington (16 players). At No. 13, Minnesota trailed these states and their totals of players:

1. California, 119

2. Texas, 111

3. Illinois, 86

4. Florida, 75

5. North Carolina, 70

6. Ohio, 69

7. Georgia, 68

8. Indiana, 60

9. New York, 53

10. Virginia, 52

11. Maryland, 46

12. Michigan, 38

The Gophers’ roster has six Minnesotans, including starters Amir Coffey and Reggie Lynch. Jarvis Johnson is a scholarship player from the state who didn’t play last season, but could be counted as a seventh Minnesotan.

North Dakota’s roster has five Minnesotans including starting guards Geno Crandall and Quinton Hooker. They played prominent roles for their team as did some other Minnesotans including guard/forward Sanjay Lumpkin at Northwestern and guard J.P. Macura with Xavier.

After searching over 150 team websites, Lindahl also compiled a breakdown of countries. In addition to the United States, 56 other nations were represented by 178 players on the 100 teams. Only four of those countries had double-digit totals of players—Canada, 29; Australia, 23; Nigeria, 13; and Senegal, 10.

Lindahl shared his findings with Creative Charters who distributed the information via email to those who made the trip to watch the Gophers. The research and email came as a surprise but was appreciated.

“Nobody would expect somebody to be as stupid as I am,” Lindahl repeated.

Worth Noting reported on Monday the current “NCAA Tournament is the most-watched in 24 years through the first Sunday (March 19), with an average of 9,325,000 million viewers, up 10% from 2016 (8,513,000).”

Horse racing enthusiast Steve Erban emailed that Malagacy, a top 10 contender for this year’s Kentucky Derby, has a sister who is a Minnesota bred racehorse. Classy Shackles sold for $26,500 in a Minnesota thoroughbred yearling sale last year, Erban wrote.

Erban’s Creative Charters, based in Stillwater, annually offers a trip to the Kentucky Derby. He said this year’s trip to the May 6 Derby in Louisville is sold out.

The Star Tribune named its All-Metro boys basketball teams this week and the first team included Maple Grove guard Brad Davison and Lakeville North forward Nathan Reuvers. Both will play for Wisconsin next season and are high potential college players. The Gophers could be second-guessed about their recruiting if the next few seasons are successful for Davison, Reuvers and the Badgers. Wisconsin, a program that hasn’t finished below fourth in the Big Ten standings since 2001, has a history of using Minnesota-raised talent in its starting lineup.

Jerry Krause, the legendary general manager who shaped the rosters of the Chicago Bulls NBA title teams in the 1990s, died this week at age 77. I met Krause at Met Center when he brought the Bulls to Minnesota for an exhibition game I helped arrange. He was all business and demanded the Bulls’ fee before tipoff—or the team wasn’t taking the court.

Jacob Isaia, a highly regarded offensive lineman from Bishop Gorman High School in Nevada, has offers from the Gophers and many other colleges including Michigan State, UCLA and Utah, according to a Tuesday online story from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Isaia is originally from Hawaii and is the grandson of Bob Apisa, the starting fullback on the 1966 national champion Michigan State team. A senior in high school next fall, Isaia has 13 college offers and is being nationally recruited, according to the Review-Journal story.

Cordarrelle Patterson (photo courtesy of Minnesota Vikings)

With Cordarrelle Patterson leaving the Vikings via free agency to the Raiders, Laquon Treadwell has more opportunity to figure in Minnesota’s plans for its wide receivers. Treadwell, the team’s first round draft choice in 2016, wasn’t ready to play last season and caught only one pass for 15 yards. Former Vikings wide receivers coach George Stewart told Sports Headliners this week that Treadwell can become a “fine player.” Treadwell doesn’t turn 22 until June 14.

The Gopher hockey team will try to win the Northeast Regional this weekend, and advance to the Frozen Four and compete for the NCAA title. Minnesota has a NCAA-best 37 national tournament appearances, but what frustrates many fans is the Gophers have won just two national championships since 1980. The Gophers were NCAA champions in 1974, 1976, 1979, 2002 and 2003.

Jason Shaver, the Apple Valley High School alum and son of Gophers radio play-by-play man Wally Shaver, is the TV voice of the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves. Jason’s grandfather is the legendary radio voice of the North Stars, 89-year-old Al Shaver who is retired and living on Vancouver Island.

White Bear Lake’s Phil Bonin, a well-known hockey name, passed away from cancer on Monday. Phil was a youth hockey supporter and father of Brian Bonin, the former Gopher hockey player and 1996 Hobey Baker Award winner. Condolences to family and friends.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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